I know there is nothing better for a politician than to appear on a talk show to criticize government policies, and is thrilled if the audience or even the anchor seem to agree. It is even better if some trademark Egyptian humor is injected in the conversation. With all due respect this not the way to improve policy; better policies are a result of practical, realistic ideas supported by technical details, ones that address the mind more than the heart. Their costs need to be quantified, even before their advantages are noted. It is easy to talk of the advantages of any proposal, but it is difficult to figure out its cost, how it is to be implemented, and what repercussions it might have.
Which brings us to a further reason why voters changed their minds about the Muslim Brotherhood. The group insisted on nominating candidates from outside the particular constituencies in which they running, which made them strangers to the constituents. Fascination for their ideas gave them success in the 2005 elections. But the experience of the constituency of Bandar El-Minya in 2010 is illustrative of how this could not work a second time around.
They nominated Mohamed Saad El-Katatni, who hails from a distinguished family in Girga, Sohag. By 2010 constituents had come to realize that these representatives were strangers to them, knew nothing of their lives, and as such they rejected the idea of voting for strangers from far away districts.
This was amply demonstrated by voters in the district of Badrasheen, 6th of October. In that district, the Brotherhood nominated Rizq Hawwas, who had been away from the district for 20 years working in Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, the NDP nominated two candidates in this district, namely Sherif Anani and Khalil Lam'ie. The Brotherhood candidate was in the district only seven months before the elections, while our candidates had represented the district since 2005.
Meanwhile, in the district of Shortet Al-Fayoum in Fayoum governorate, the Brotherhood nominated Mohamed Khalil Abdel-Atti, who had spent the last 20 years between Yemen and Qatar. Abdel-Atti came to Fayoum two months before the elections and only began campaigning one month before balloting. The NDP's winning candidate, Mahmoud Saad, was already present in the district, and had been preparing for the elections for more than four years.
For all these reasons, the fascination with the Brotherhood that we saw five years ago had dimmed this year. People felt that their Egypt is not the same as the one which the candidates have in mind. Yes, we are the same religious society, but we are also a society that penalizes those who pretend to be religious but act to the contrary. In a large number of districts, there was some punitive voting by the people against those who traded in religion over the past five years.
A second factor in the NDP's win, is its adoption of strategic electoral alliances, which meant that we nominated several candidates for the same seat. This strategy aimed at amassing voting power in support of the party in the first round, as well as to prevent candidates from carrying the first round single-handedly, especially Brotherhood candidates. At the same time, this strategy also prevented any alliances between Muslim Brotherhood and NDP candidates.
By placed a party candidate in every important electoral district and allowing party candidates to form NDP-NDP alliances, and preventing any NDP-other party alliances, this strategy helped from the party with the win we came to witness. By doing so, we ensured that all party members who wanted to run in the elections were able to so without the need to incite voters against the party, whether in the first round or the reruns.
There are many examples that prove that the power of "bloc" voting for NDP candidates made it impossible for the Muslim Brotherhood candidates to win in the first round:
• In the district of Shubra El-Khaima, in the governorate of Qalyubiya, Brotherhood candidate Mohamed El-Beltagui was unable to win the majority of votes in the first round, when he ran against NDP candidates Megahed Nassar and Hani Tawfik. Our candidates in this round received 26,434 votes while former MP El-Beltagui got 9,798 votes.
• In Shortet Kafr El-Sheikh District, in Kafr El-Shiekh govenorate, there was no way that Brotherhood candidate Abdallah Misbah (with 7,807 votes) would win 50+1 per cent in the first round against NDP candidates Ashraf Abdel-Wanees and Ashraf Sihsah who together, received 28,413 votes.
• In Markaz Shortet Beni Sueif, in the governorate of Beni Sueif, Brotherhood candidate Hamdi Zahran was trapped between our three candidates, Abul Kheir Abdel-Aleem, Magdi Abdle-Wahab and Osama El-Gindi, who altogether won 43,546 votes while Zahran received 12,707.
• In Markaz Shortet El-Minya, in the governorate of Minya, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood bloc in the 2005-2010 parliament, Saad El-Katatni was challenged by three NDP candidates, Mahmoud Marawan, Mahmoud Khalafallah and Shadi Abul Ela who reaped 27,770 votes in comparison to El-Katatni's 5,565.
There are many examples of districts where we decided to challenge the candidates of the banned group with our stronger candidates as individuals, even if this meant they were contesting seats which are not originally theirs in the district.
• In El-Dawahee district in Port Said governorate, the NDP's El-Husseini Abu Qamar, the representative for the workers' seat in 2005, ran in the professionals' category this year against Akram El-Sha'er, the incumbent Brotherhood candidate. Had Abu Qamar run in the workers' category he would have won very easily, but we decided to confront the Brotherhood with our strongest candidate. Abu Qamar ran a fierce battle for the professionals category and he held his own. Anyone who knows the sentiments of the people of Port Said, knows well that the figures were a true expression of Abu Qamar's popularity. He comes from the southern section of the city where he has a strong electoral base. Meanwhile, the party nominated two candidates from Al-Arab district for the workers' seat, which has a larger voting base. El-Sha'er was left with the votes from his home district of El-Dawahee, which has the weakest voting power in the entire district. There is no other explanation for the results in that district.
It was the same story in many other districts where we applied the same election tactic, including El-Arabaeen in Suez governorate, where the NDP MP decided to run for the professionals' seat instead of the workers', to challenge Brotherhood candidate Abbas Abdel-Aziz. The party won the seat with 31,754 votes to 1,909 for the Muslim Brotherhood candidate.
There was also the district of Kafr El-Zayyat, in Al-Gharbiya governorate, where our candidate Amin Radi ran for the workers'/farmers' seat to challenge MB candidate Hassanein El-Shurah. The NDP won by 59,664 to 21,326 votes.
By amassing our voting power against Muslim Brotherhood candidates and challenging them with our strongest nominees, our party had determined nearly a week before the first round that the Brotherhood would not win more than 12-13 seats in the reruns. The results of the first round for Brotherhood candidates were in the same vein. They contested 27 seats in the reruns and it was very likely that that they would win 12-13 of those.
We believe that the Brotherhood had come to the same conclusion, and hence decided to withdraw after the first round in order to justify the sharp drop in their seats in parliament, when in reality the reasons for this had been present and apparent well before the balloting on election day.
Ahmed Ezz is the Organizational Secretary of the National Democratic Party, and the man behind the ruling party's sweeping win in the 2010 parliamentary elections.