Authorities began accepting candidates’ applications on Wednesday in advance of Egypt’s first parliamentary elections after the February ouster of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak.
The day witnessed a large turnout of candidates competing for individual seats. There was also a large turnout of former members of Mubarak’s now-defunct National Democratic Party (NDP) running for individual seats in several governorates.
A total of 1325 candidates have so far registered, both for the upper and lower houses of parliament. According to new elections laws, one third of the seats in parliament will be reserved for individual candidates, while two thirds will be based on electoral lists.
The Cairo-based Egyptian Organization for Human Rights estimated that no less than 50 per cent of the candidates that registered for candidacy on Wednesday were former NDP members.
Political parties and activists have repeatedly called on the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to implement a “treason law” aimed at banning former NDP members from participating in any political activity for at least a five-year period.
According to an agreement hammered out two weeks ago between the SCAF and 13 political parties, the council would “study” the possibility of applying such a law.
At a public conference earlier this month, former NDP members from Upper Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula threatened to mobilize some 15 million supporters if such a law was applied.
Ex-NDP members have reportedly applied for both individual candidacies and as members of party lists. Several licensed parties have been accused of including ex-NDP members on their lists, including the Al-Hurreya Party and the Union Party.
The socialist Popular Alliance party announced its withdrawal from the Egyptian Bloc electoral list because others parties in the coalition insisted on including ex-NDP members on their electoral lists.
The Democratic Alliance, which groups together 25 political parties including the influential Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Freedom Party (JFP), has not yet announced its final plan for elections.
Meanwhile, the Salafist Asala Party has announced its withdrawal from the Democratic Alliance because only four of its 50 proposed candidates were chosen for inclusion in the alliance’s electoral lists.