Egypt's election run-off round expected to boost party presence

Ahram Online , Monday 26 Oct 2015

Four of 226 individual seats available in first stage were filled

An election monitor sits next to ballot boxes at a polling station during the final day of the first round of parliamentary election, in Fayoum, Egypt, Monday, Oct. 19, 2015. (Photo:AP)

Run-off votes for the first phase of Egypt's parliamentary elections are to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, with many political parties expected to win seats.

The coming House of Representatives will be comprised of 596 MPs, 448 elected via individual seats and 120 from party lists. Twenty-eight will be appointed by the president.

The first phase of the elections, which began last week, saw votes take place in 14 out of 27 governorates.

All 60 party list seats available in the first phase were filled, with the pro-Sisi “For the Love of Egypt” list securing over fifty percent of the required votes in each constituency.

By comparison, just four of the 226 individual seats available in the first stage were filled. The successful candidates included former members of Hosni Mubarak's now-disbanded party, the National Democratic Party.

Ballots for 16 individual seats will be re-held after a court ruled the results void. The seats include four in Damanhour, seven in Alexandria, and five in Beni Suef.

The remaining 206 individual seats will be filled via the run-offs this week, with the two highest-polling candidates per seat competing for the most votes.

The results are likely to see some of Egypt's political parties securing representation in parliament.

"Almost half of those vying in the run-offs are party members, something that will help political parties reach parliament," said Yousri Azabawy, a political researcher at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

Azabawy said that most of these party members are wealthy businessmen, which could fuel fears of the kind of patronage politics and cronyism that was a feature of Mubarak's rule.

An electoral list of opposition liberal and socialist group withdrew from the elections earlier this week, further strengthening Mubrak-era figures and supporters of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

The once ruling Muslim Brotherhood, which gained the most seats in the 2011-12 elections, has been banned and declared a terrorist organisation.

The Nour Party, the only Islamist party standing in the vote, lost the competition for party seats in the constituency of West Delta, coming second to For the Love of Egypt.

The Salafist party, which supported the ouster of Egypt's Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, may do better this week, as its members are contesting 25 individual seats in the run-offs.

Many observers do not expect a higher turnout than the 26.6 percent reported last week.

The figure was a substantial drop from the 62 percent turnout in the 2011/12 parliamentary elections, which came off the back of the revolution against Mubarak, and raised hopes for political and economic reforms

"There might be surprises though," Azabawy said.

Egypt has since been without a parliament since June 2012 when a court dissolved the body.

The remaining 13 governorates will vote in the second phase of elections beginning on 21 November, with run-offs due on 1-2 December.

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