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Upcoming Egypt parliament elections: Pre-ballot jockeying

Political parties are examining the possibility of forming coalitions to contest parliamentary elections

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 9 Sep 2020
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Preparations for Egypt’s parliamentary elections will soon get underway. Lasheen Ibrahim, head of the National Elections Authority (NEA) which is in charge of supervising the polls, held a meeting with Minister of Health Hala Zayed on Monday to discuss procedures for candidates to undergo required medical check-ups. 

 Zayed said hopeful candidates will be able to take medical tests in a number of Ministry of Health affiliated hospitals and will be able to use “the Ministry of Health’s website to report their personal data, select the hospital they favour, and make an appointment for the medical check-up”. 

Informed sources say the meeting between Ibrahim and Zayed shows that the NEA has already started to lay the groundwork for the House of Representatives elections. They expect that once the Senate election finishes on 16 September the NEA will announce the timetable for the House poll. The door for candidate registration will likely open in October, and the ballot be held in two stages in November and December. The first stage is expected to include 14 governorates and the second 13. Voters will elect 284 deputies via the individual candidacy system and 284 through the closed list system. The president will appoint 28 deputies. 

On Monday, in another move signalling the nearing of parliamentary elections, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi ratified the law redrawing the House’s electoral constituencies passed by parliament on 18 August.

The law delineates 143 constituencies for individual candidates and four mega constituencies for closed party lists.

The law divides the 134 individual seats among Egypt’s 27 governorates.

The four party list constituencies will be Cairo and the Middle and South Delta, North, Middle and South Upper Egypt, the Eastern Nile Delta and Alexandria and the Western Nile Delta. 

On 3 September the pro-government Mostaqbal Watan (Future of the Homeland) Party said that it has held meetings with representatives from 12 political parties — the Wafd, the Republican People, the Guardians of the Nation, Reform and Development, Tagammu, Modern Egypt, the National Movement, the Egyptian Socialist Democratic Party, the Liberal Egyptians, Ghad (Tomorrow), Adl (Justice), and the Egyptian Freedom — with the objective of forming a coalition to contest party list seats.

Informed sources within Mostaqbal Watan said the party’s successful experience in forming a national coalition that was able to win the Senate’s 100 party list seats had encouraged its leaders to follow the course with the House elections.

Leftist political parties are also mulling the possibility of forming an election coalition. These include the Popular Alliance, Karama (Dignity), and the Constitution. A statement issued by the Popular Alliance lamented that three leftist political parties — the Egyptian Socialist Democratic, Reform and Development and the Tagammu — opted to join a coalition with the pro-government Mostaqbal Watan.

“Leftist political parties will continue their struggle for true democracy in Egypt, and deplore that some parties have chosen to join a coalition whose objectives are opposed to leftist ideals,” read the statement. 

MPs affiliated with the leftist bloc known as the 25-30 group said this week that they are not seeking to join any parliamentary coalition. Khaled Shaaban, a member of the bloc, said in a press interview that members of the bloc would prefer to contest the House polls as independents. 

Meanwhile, a number of politicians last week said they will form a coalition of independents. A statement issued on 3 September indicated that the founders include Amr Amer, the son of late Field Marshal Abdel-Hakim Amer, Sabri Seraj, deputy chairman of Zamalek Sporting Club, Nahla Abdel-Aziz, chairman of Egyptian TV’s channel 2, and Hamdi Balat, deputy chairman of the New Independents Party, founded in 2011. 

A group of political activists also announced on Sunday their intention to form the Egyptian National Current coalition. The coalition, led by Alexandria’s former governor Tarek Al-Mahdi, held a press conference on 6 September.

“We hope that we can field national figures that have the will and intention to contest the House elections and play a role in preserving social peace and reinforcing responsible participation in political life,” said Al-Mahdi.

He said 25 political parties and 300 public figures had already expressed interest in the coalition which will “cooperate with all forces, including the Egyptian presidency, to create a vibrant political life and meet the challenges facing our country”.

 

 

*A version of this article appears in print in the 10 September, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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