Wednesday,13 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1273, (3 - 9 December 2015)
Wednesday,13 December, 2017
Issue 1273, (3 - 9 December 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Crossing the finishing line

Run-offs in the second stage of the parliamentary elections began Tuesday with 426 candidates competing for 213 seats in 99 constituencies, Gamal Essam El-Din reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Egyptian expatriates voting in second stage of parliamentary run-offs could do so on Monday and Tuesday and domestic voters on Tuesday and Wednesday. Commentators expect at best an average turnout.

On Sunday the Higher Election Committee (HEC) announced 426 independents would compete for 213 seats in 99 constituencies in the run-off.

HEC spokesperson Omar Marawan has announced administrative courts have rejected the majority of appeals contesting the results of the first round. In Mansoura, the capital of the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahliya, however, it was ruled the first round ballot must be restaged after one of the candidates on the ballot paper was disqualified. Thirty candidates were competing to fill three seats in the constituency.

In the Nile Delta governorate of Sharqiya the death from a heart attack of candidate Ezzat Badawi means the former MP will be replaced on the ballot paper by Abdel-Hamid Abdel-Gelil, the candidate who came next to Badawi in terms of votes.

In the first round of the second — and final — stage of the election 2,893 candidates were competing for the 222 seats reserved for independents and 195 for the 60 seats reserved for party lists.

Four Mubarak-era National Democratic Party (NDP) figures won seats outright. In Sharqiya Ali Al-Moselhi, a former minister of social solidarity and NDP MP, won in the constituency of Abu Kibier; Mahmoud Khamis, a businessman and a former NDP MP won in Belbeis and Talaat Al-Swedey, a business tycoon and a former NDP MP, won in Diarb Negm. Al-Moselhi and Khamis stood as candidates with no political affiliation while Al-Swedey won as an independent affiliated with Al-Wafd party.

Mahmoud Othman, a former NDP MP and the son of the founder of the Arab Contractors Company Othman Ahmed Othman, won in Ismailia. Othman is married to Gihan, the daughter of late president Anwar Al-Sadat.

Film director Khaled Youssef won Kafr Shukr in Qalioubiya governorate; political analyst Samir Ghattas won in Nasr City; journalist Ahmed Badawi took the Toukh constituency in Qalioubiya and Ibrahim Abu Shiera and Gazi Abed secured seats in North Sinai.

Of the candidates who made it to run-offs, 200 were affiliated with political parties and 226 had no clear party affiliation.

The Cairo-based National Centre for Research and Consultancy (NCRC) reported that the Free Egyptians Party, founded by business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, had the highest number of candidates in the run-offs. Fifty-two of its 110 candidates made it to the second round. It was followed by the Future of Homeland Party with 50 out of 89 candidates.

Forty three candidates out of 135 affiliated to the Wafd Party qualified for the run-offs.

The Salafist Nour Party faced a virtual wipe out with only four of its candidates making it through to the run-offs. They are all competing in the Nile Delta governorate of Kafr Al-Sheikh.

The Nour Party, which came second in the 2012 parliamentary elections, won just eight seats out of 222 in the first stage.

Two leftists made it to the run-offs: Abdel-Hamid Kamal, a former MP and member of the Tagammu Party and Khaled Abdel-Aziz Shaaban, a member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.

Of 168 women candidates 19 qualified for the run-off round, the NRCR reported.

Up to 100 Mubarak-era figures were able to beat their rivals and qualify for the run-offs.

“The majority are businessmen, former politicians or former NDP MPs,” says Yousri Al-Azabawi, chairman of Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies’ (ACPSS) Parliamentary Forum Unit.

Many ran as political party affiliates.

“In the absence of popular and experienced candidates and strapped for cash many parties put forward former NDP officials who are not only well heeled but have deep family and tribal ties in the constituencies they once represented,” says Al-Azabawi.

A typical example cited by Al-Azabawi is businessman Talaat Al-Sewedy, a former NDP official who won in Sharqiya governorate as an independent affiliated with the Wafd Party.

Some of Mubarak’s fiercest critics, on the other hand, were among the losers in the second stage of the polls.

“Foremost among these are Mohamed Abdel-Alim, long-time Wafdist MP and a fierce critic of Mubarak and his son Gamal, and Hafez Abu Saeda, chairman of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR),” said Al-Azabawi.

Hussein Megawer, the former chairman of the General Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions (GEFTU), and Talaat Al-Qawwas, a long-time NDP MP and owner of a chain of readymade garment shops, were among the senior NDP officials who made it to the run-offs in Cairo constituencies. While Megawer stood as an independent, Al-Qawwas stands is affiliated with the Free Egyptians Party.

The list also includes Ihab Al-Omda in the north Cairo district of Shorabiya; Ahmed Ezz’s lawyer Mohamed Hammouda; Mohamed Massoud, running as an affiliate of the Free Egyptians Party in Boulaq; Sherine Ahmed Fouad Abdel-Aziz in Al-Wayli; Ahmed Shiha in Al-Khalifa and Karim Nabil, a former NDP official and manager of the 2012 presidential campaign of Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, in Heliopolis;

Bigwigs from the NDP who made it to run-offs in the Delta include Mubarak-era economy minister Mustafa Al-Said; former NDP MP Ahmed Fouad Abaza; Moataz Al-Shazli, the son of Mubarak-era minister for parliamentary affairs and NDP secretary for organisational affairs Kamal Al-Shazli and Tawfik Okasha, owner of the private TV channel Al-Faraeen.

Run-offs were held amid tight security with 150,000 central security forces and 160,000 soldiers deployed to safeguard the poll, according to Interior Minister Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar.

Foreign NGOs observing the vote noted a marked increase in vote-buying in the second stage of the poll. Said Sadek, professor of political science at the American University in Cairo (AUC), told Al-Ahram Weekly that “political money” will be hugely influential in determining the results of the second stage.

“Given the number of businessmen competing in the stage, and the fact that election laws do not impose penalties for vote-buying, it is only to be expected that political money would dominate,” says Sadek.

“There were, however, exceptions to this rule. In East Cairo’s commercial community of Nasr City, political analyst Samir Ghattas was able to win without a run-off, beating off business rivals who spent millions in an attempt to win a seat in parliament.”

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