Egypt's two main opposition groups — the Wafd Party and Muslim Brotherhood — have announced their withdrawal from the 2010 parliamentary elections ahead of the second round, due to take place next Sunday, alleging that the first round was rigged in favour of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).
"Our party felt it was deceit. We announce our withdrawal from the elections," Essam Shiha, member of the Wafd Party's higher council, told Ahram Online. "Our two winning candidates will also withdraw. Whoever wants to continue will continue as an independent."
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood's Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badie, announced that his movement would boycott the second round of the elections taking place on Sunday, pulling all 27 candidates out of the runoff, including the candidate running in the women's quota category.
"We have withdrawn from the elections leaving it to the NDP to do with it whatever it wants. We wanted to push reform in this country, but election rigging took place in an obvious way," Hesham El-Kady, a Brotherhood candidate in Qus constituency, told Ahram Online.
A reduction in the number of opposition deputies in parliament was expected, but not to the extent revealed by the first round of the elections. The Wafd Party, which ran for candidates for 222 seats, won just two in the first round, while the Muslim Brotherhood did not win a single seat that round. The Brotherhood held 88 seats in the 2005 parliament, making it the largest opposition presence in the Egyptian parliament.
The Wafd Party fielded a large number of candidates following signals from the ruling party leaderhship that they would welcome greater parliamentary presence for the old liberal party. "It is the first time since 1918 for the party to invest such a high budget in the elections," said Shiha. "We had a budget of LE20 million."
Alleging vote rigging, Muslim Brotherhood candidates appealed the election results before the Administrative Court. "Ballot boxes were replaced with fake ones," El-Kady alleged, in statements to Ahram Online.
In the first round, on a turnout of around 25 per cent, the ruling NDP won the majority of seats with four legal opposition parties winning five seats between them (including two for the Wafd Party). Seven other seats went to independents.