Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Egypt gets parliament with at least some opposition, after massive vote rigging and some horse trading

Protest by unhappy oppostion members

Official results of the 2010 parliamentary elections in Egypt are somewhat of a surprise after all: the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) clinched almost 86.4 percent of the 508 seat People's Assembly, with 424 MPs . Some 65 went to independents, who for the most part are also NDP candidates albeit in disguise. The opposition won a meagre 16 seats, or around 3 percent, in contrast to their 23 percent representation in the outgoing parliament.
The liberal Wafd party won six seats. The left-wing Tagammu five (as opposed to only one in the outgoing parliament), the Muslim Brotherhood won only one seat (down from the 88 it won in 2005) and the Ghad (Tomorrow), Geel (generation), Adalah (social justice), and Salam (social peace) parties, won one seat each. The total number of  "opposition" in the new parliament is now 15.

Four seats are still up for grabs, following clashes in the constituencies. The Higher Election Committee has said another election round for those four seats - which constitute a little less than one percent of the parliament - will be scheduled at a later date.
Both the Muslim Brotherhood and Wafd had withdrawn from the elections two days after the 28 November vote last Sunday, citing “blatant” and “widespread” rigging in favour of the ruling party, and after both parties had alsmost no seats won in the first round.
It seems, however, that the NDP backtracked on the way it handled this first round and for the second round on Sunday made some last-minute backroom deals with opposition candidates to guarantee a few independent victories after all. According to observers the NDP in this way pushed some independent candidates to join parties that had no run-off candidates.
In the Aga district of Daqahliya Governorate, NDP candidate for the professionals seat Abdel Fattah Diab announced his withdrawal from the election in protest over alleged fraud aimed at facilitating a win for his leftist Tagammu Party competitor. The NDP pushed Mohamed al-Kharweeli, an independent candidate in the Mahalla Governorate, to join the Geel Party, according to a report published today by the Egyptian Association for the Development of Societal Participation.
Also one Muslim Brotherhood contender was forced to run in the second round in order to guarantee Brotherhood parliamentary representation, according to rights reports. In this way MB-affiliated parliamentary candidate in Al-Nozha district of Cairo, Magdy Ashour, won the group’s sole parliamentary seat this year. It is as yet  unclear whether he will choose to relinquish the seat or not. “It’s totally up to [Ashour],” Saad El-Katatni, head of the 2005 MB parliamentary bloc, told Daily News Egypt. “We are not pressuring him to withdraw. He can choose to do whatever he sees fit. But if Magdy Ashour decides to [accept the MP position], he will be considered an independent candidate who does not represent the Brotherhood.”
Also the Wafd announced, in line with the party's decision last Wednesday to pull out of the elections, that it will suspend candidates who participated in the election runoffs on Sunday. “The Wafd is not going to have any parliamentary representation,” party Secretary General, Mounir Fakhry AbdelNour. 
After the first round Safir Nour and Mosaad El-Meligy emerged as the only victorious Wafd candidates. ats. A week later, during the runoff round, the party surprisingly won four additional seats which went to Atef El-Ashmouny, Tareq Sebaq, Mohamed El-Malki in Cairo and Magda Neweshi in Ismailia  
Initially the party expected it would win more than 20 seats, but members were shocked when only two seats were secured in the first round and in a reaction to what they argued was "widespread rigging", the party decided to pull out of the elections.
At the other hand, the leftist Tagammu, which decided to stay in the elections, won one in the first round and four seats in the second one. It is not expected that the party is going to renounce these seats, but te position of party secretary general Rifaat Said has been considerably weakened after the decision not to withdraw, which was critisized by large factions  in the party. 

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