Run-offs for Egypt’s Senate elections kicked off on Tuesday, with polling stations open in 14 governorates nationwide under heightened security and strict preventive measures amid the coronavirus crisis.
Some 174 senators representing different constituencies countrywide were officially named last month after securing most votes during the first round of elections, while 26 seats are still up for grabs in the run-offs on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Only 8.95 million out of 62.94 million eligible voters cast their ballots during the first round's voting in August, a total turnout of 14.23 percent.
Most seats were won by a pro-government coalition led by the Mostaqbal Watan Party, claiming, along with its allies, the majority in the newly reconstituted 300-seat upper house of parliament.
The remaining 26 seats, whose nominees failed to obtain the necessary absolute majority, are distributed over 14 governorates: Qalioubiya, Menoufia, Kafr El-Sheikh, Giza, Beni Suef, Assiut, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia and Marsa Matrouh.
In the first round, the pro-government Mostaqbal Watan Party won 118 (around 60 percent) out of the 200 contested seats.
The National Election Authority (NEA) said Mostaqbal Watan won 68 individual seats and 50 party list seats during the first round, with eyes on winning a majority in the run-offs.
Around 52 candidates will compete in the run-offs, of whom 24 are affiliated with Mostaqbal Watan, four with the Islamist Nour Party, three with the Guardians of the Nation Party, two with the People's Republican Party, one with the Congress Party, one with the National Movement Party, and one with the Ittihad (union) Party, according to the NEA.
The results are set to be announced on 16 September.
The Senate, which was created in accordance with constitutional amendments approved last year, will act as an advisory chamber to the House of Representatives. It will sit in place of the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament that was dissolved in 2014.
Two-thirds of the members are elected via the individual candidacy and the closed party list systems, and the rest will be appointed by the president.
The first session of the new body, where senators are required to be sworn in, is set to be held in October. The first five-year term of the Senate will end in 2025.