Voters in 13 governorates head to the polls next week in the run-off round for the first stage of parliamentary elections. Egyptians abroad will vote between 21 and 23 November, and those at home between 23 and 24 November. Second stage run-offs will be held between 5 and 8 December.
The competition will be limited to individual seats. “The Mostaqbal Watan-led National Coalition has already won the 284 seats allocated to party lists in the first two rounds of the polls, so the race now is limited to individual seats,” said National Elections Authority (NEA) head Lasheen Ibrahim. “A total of 211 seats are up for grabs.”
Next week 110 seats in 14 governorates — Giza, Fayoum, Beni Sweif, Minya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, the Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira, and Matr0uh — will be contested. “Just 32 individual seats in these governorates were won in the first round, with the majority of successful candidates affiliated with Mostaqbal Watan Party,” said Ibrahim.
In Alexandria, where 13 of the city’s 16 have yet to be decided, a fierce battle between opposition MP Haitham Al-Hariri and the Mostaqbal Watan Party candidate Mohamed Gebril is expected in the Moharram Bey district.
In Luxor, where a majority of current MPs failed to hold their seats, the competition in the run-off round will be between the Mostaqbal Watan and the Republican People parties. In Beni Sweif the run-offs are limited to independent and Mostaqbal Watan candidates.
In Giza governorate the Nasserist Nashwa Al-Deeb and independent Tarek Said were the only candidates to win seats in the first round, leaving 61 candidates to battle it out over 23 seats in the run-offs.
In Minya, where 15 seats remain up for grabs among, four Copts are among the 30 candidates who made it to the run-offs, while in Beheira three candidates affiliated with the Salafist Nour Party remain in the race.
Results announced by the NEA on Sunday showed that the National Coalition easily won the 284 seats reserved for party lists in the two-stage poll.
“Mostaqbal Watan and its allies are already assured of a majority in the House of Representatives,” says political analyst Gamal Zahran.
“The coming parliament will not differ much from the previous house. Many high-ranking MPs and committee heads running on the National Coalition list were able to retain their seats. They include Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal, his deputies Mahmoud Al-Sherif and Soliman Wahdan, and the chairman of the Social Solidarity Committee Abdel-Hadi Al-Qasabi.”
The list of the coalition’s winners also includes Mostaqbal Watan’s deputy chairman and head of parliament’s Sports and Youth Committee Ashraf Rashad; second deputy chairman and head of parliament’s Human Rights Committee Alaa Abed, and the party’s parliamentary spokesperson Atef Nasr. The heads of the religious affairs, education, telecommunications and information technology and small-scale projects committees all retained their seats.
Al-Ahram political analyst Amr Hashem Rabie puts down the Mostaqbal Watan-led coalition’s victory in winning all 284 party list seats to the fact its only competition was from three little known rival blocs.
“Essentially it was an extension of the Senate election in which a Mostaqbal Watan-backed coalition won 100 party list seats unopposed,” said Rabie. “Candidates running on Mostaqbal Watan coalition lists are basically appointed: they face either no competition, or competition that is largely symbolic.
“Mostaqbal Watan and its allies secured more than 70 per cent of Senate seats and are about to repeat this in the House of Representatives. The end result will be a toothless parliament dominated by regime loyalists,” said Zahran.
NEA head Lasheen Ibrahim said the first round of the second stage of the election saw 29.5 per cent of 31.43 million registered voters go to the polls, slightly up from the 28.05 per cent reported in the first stage.
Of the votes cast 1.5 million ballots were invalid in the second stage, and one million in the first.
The large number of invalid votes, says Zahran, reflects how complicated the election system is, with its division into mega-party-list constituencies and smaller districts in which individual candidates compete, and how few people understand it.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 19 November, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly