As many as 2,000 candidates are expected to contest the third – and final – stage of the parliamentary elections, scheduled to take place on 3 and 4 January in nine governorates. These nine governorates – out of a total of 27 – span Qalioubiya, Gharbiya, Daqahliya, Qena, Minya, South Sinai, North Sinai, Marsa Matrouh and New Valley (Al-Wadi Al-Gedid). Run-off elections are due to be held on 10 and 11 January.
Of the 150 seats up for grabs in the final round, 50 are independent seats and 100 to candidates standing on party lists.
In the first two stages – held between 28 November and 22 December – 348 were initially up for grabs. A number of legal disputes and election irregularities, however, led the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC), tasked with supervising and monitoring the elections, to bring this down to 331 seats.
The two leading Islamist parties – the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and Salafist Nour Party – have so far gained the majority of contested seats in the first two stages. A number of semi-official estimates show that the two parties have so far been able to get between 70 and 75 per cent of the total number of contested seats.
Figures cited in the media put the number of seats taken by the FJP at around 160 seats, constituting almost 50 per cent. FJP’s official figures show that it won 163 seats in the first two stages, representing 50 per cent. While the FJP had won 87 seats or 35.9 per cent of the party-list vote in the first two stages, it had also secured 76 individual seats (36 and 40 in the first two stages respectively).
Trailing the FJP at second place is the Nour Party, which took around 72 seats or 22 per cent. Many observers were surprised by this performance. For instance, Manar El-Shorbagy, a political analyst, said the big success of the FJP was expected, “but I never imagined that the Salafist party would be able to clinch such a large number of seats.” He added, “Given their lack of experience and radical Islamist agenda, we expected that the Salafists would get only 5 per cent.”
The Nour Party was most successful in Upper Egypt’s governorates. Among the Salafist parties, it was the Nour Party that dominated. For instance, the Gamaa Islamiya’s Reconstruction and Development Party (RDP) which also espouses a Salafist ideology won only around six seats. Safawat Abdel-Ghani, founder of RDP, indicated that the supporters of RDP gave their votes to the Nour Party. “This is not to mention that a big number of our candidates joined a one party-list with the Salafist Nour party,” he added.
Including the five seats clinched by the Wasat Party, a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, the Islamists have overall secured 73 per cent of seats in the first two stages of parliamentary elections.
In a statement issued on 24 December, FJP officials expressed their deep gratitude for the Egyptian people, “who bestowed their trust on us and gave our candidates the majority of their votes in the first two stages.”
The statement boasted that, “the Democratic Alliance which included ten non-Islamist parties and was led by the FJP helped at least 15 prominent candidates of these parties and independents win seats.” Among these, according to the FJP statement, are Wahid Abdel-Meguid, an Ahram political analyst; Mahmoud El-Khodeiri, a reformist judge; Saad Abboud, a Nasserist lawyer and former MP; Mohamed Abde-Moneim Al-Sawy, a former minister of culture and a founder of the secular Civilisation party; Kamal Abul-Eita, a political activist and member of the Nasserist Dignity Party; and Mohamed El-Said Idris, an Ahram political analyst and a founder of the dissident Kifaya movement.
According to the FJP statement, the results of the first two stages in the polls confirm that Brotherhood-affiliated candidates enjoy high levels of popularity. “Not only had FJP candidates defeated their rivals (mostly including remnants of ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s defunct ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), but also chairmen of at least ten of FJP’s provincial offices found their way into the new parliament,” the statement declared. Most of these FJP provincial leaders are former Muslim Brotherhood deputies, such as Hussein Ibrahim and Farid Ismail, chairmen of FJP’s offices in the governorates of Alexandria and Sharqiya respectively.
FJP also boasted that the liberal Egyptian Bloc parties failed to clinch a considerable number of seats in spite of the huge support they had received from the Orthodox Church and Egyptian Copts. “This Bloc and the huge support it received from Egyptian Christian Copts were not enough to stand up to the popularity of our candidates,” said FJP statement.
FJP, however, deplored that the liberal-oriented Wafd party also preformed poorly. The statement suggests that this was “largely because the Wafd opted to leave the Democratic Alliance.”
The two major liberal forces – the Egyptian Bloc and the Wafd – won 26 and 27 seats respectively.
The FJP officials expect that its candidates continue their “excellent” performance in the third stage of elections, which includes at Gharbiya, Daqahliyya, Qalioubiya and Minya, socially conservative governorates where the Brotherhood enjoys high levels of popularity and grassroots support.
In the third stage of polls, the FJP will field a number of its most prominent members. These include a former Brotherhood deputies such as Saad El-Katatni, FJP’s secretary-general standing in Minya; Saad El-Husseini, a member of Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Office standing iin Gharbiya; Mohamed El-Beltagi, a professor at Ain Shams University; and journalist Mohsen Radi standing in Qalioubiya governorate.
In previous elections under the Mubarak regime, the governorates of Gharibya and Daqahliya were strongholds for the Brotherhood. “The popularity of Brotherhood candidates in these two rural governorates was so strong that it stood up to rigging practices and security intervention,” said FJP’s daily newspaper mouthpiece on 25 December.
FJP candidates, however, are expected to face stiff competition in Qena, another governorate in Upper Egypt. A number of figures formally part of the NDP are standing in Qena, such as Abdel-Reheim El-Ghoul, a long-time member of parliament. Tribal and familial connections, could work in the favour of these figures and play against the FJP.
Tribal and clan considerations are also significant in the governorates of South Sinai, North Sinai, Marsa Matrouh and the New Valley (Al-Wadi Al-Gedid). The four are also governed by tribal and clan considerations.