Egypt's parliamentary polls: Vote count underway following calm 2nd stage
Ahram Online, , Monday 23 Nov 2015


The vote counting process started on Monday evening following the second stage's final day of ballot casting in Egypt's parliamentary elections.

Monday, which saw Public sector employees given a half day off to allow time for voting, marked the last day before run-offs on 1 December and 2 December.

No official turnout figure has been announced by the High Electoral Committee (HEC) throughout the two days of voting. However, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said that he noticed the turnout was "on the rise" as he was casting his ballot on Sunday.

The HECannounced that the number of Egyptian expats who voted abroad exceeded 37,100 voters, with the results to be announced Tuesday. Voting abroad started on Saturday and was concluded Sunday night.

In Egypt's North Sinai, 28,411 voters out of 77,653 eligible voters cast their ballots, representing a turnout rate of 36 percent, according to Essam Khedr of the governorate's Operations and Crisis Management Centre.

The 13 governorates voting in the second stage are Cairo, Qalyubia, Daqahliya, Menoufiya, Sharkeya, Gharebya, Kafr El-Sheikh, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.

The first phase of the elections, held in 14 provinces on October 18 and 19, witnessed a turnout of 26.5 percent. A total of 55.6 million Egyptians are eligible to cast ballots in the parliamentary polls; 27.4 million were eligible to vote during the first stage, while 28.2 million are in the second.

The last parliamentary elections held in Egypt came months after the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, yielding a turnout of 62 percent in the first round.

Premier Ismail has been in direct contact with the cabinet's operation room tasked with following the elections, and says he was assured the process was "going well."

The Egyptian health ministry announced on Monday that one person died due to a heart attack and 40 were injured over the course of the day during the voting process, which was relatively calm over the past two days.

Violations

The National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) said that 89 violations were recorded during the first day of voting in the second stage of Egypt's parliamentary elections.

"Among the most significant violations was the delay in opening many polling stations in different governorates (Cairo, Ismailiya, Qalioubiya, Gharbiya, Kafr El-Sheikh), and there have been 13 complaints about electoral bribes in Cairo, Daqahliya and Gharbiya," the NCHR statement read.

The statement also said that there were 16 complaints about illegal campaigning near polling stations in governorates including Cairo, Kafr El-Sheikh, Qalioubiya and Gharbiya.

On Monday, 24 polling stations opened late nationwide, the HEC announced. Voting hours are between 9am and 9pm, and public sector employees have been given a half-day off to allow time for voting.

Voting during the second stage took place in 12,946 polling stations in 13 governorates.

Also in greater Cairo, NCHR monitored a polling station were a supervising judge used a single ballot box for both individual and list-based candidates, which violates regulations issued by the HEC.

According to the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR), violations including electoral bribes and the attempted influencing of voters, as well as some violence, took place during the electoral process.

The EOHR also recorded instances of buying votes at LE500 per vote.

Electoral alliance conflict

Meanwhile, former Judge Tahani El-Gebali claimed on Monday in a press conference for the Republican Alliance of Social Forces electoral list that The Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait was funding For the Love of Egypt electoral list.

"The For the Love of Egypt list needs the Muslim Brotherhood back on the political scene. They are betraying the Egyptian people," she said, referring to the group from which hails Egypt's ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

El-Gebali claims that she has photos of leading figures from For the Love of Egypt meeting with Brotherhood figures in Kuwait. The individuals she accuses include the list coordinator and former intelligence minister Sameh Saif Al-Yazel and former information minister Ossama Heikal.

However, Saif Al-Yazel rejected El-Gebali's claims while speaking to reporters, describing her claims as "unacceptable and unreal." For the Love of Egypt is widely believed to be supporting Egypt President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

The Republican Alliance of Social Forces has only one list in Cairo, South and Middle Delta, meaning it is only contesting 45 seats with the For the Love of Egypt and other alliances.

The For the Love of Egypt alliance won 60 list-based seats in the first phase of the elections.

The group won 45 seats in ‎Giza and Upper Egypt and another 15 in the West Delta, and has almost won the 15-seat Nile East Delta constituency (including the governorates of Sharqiya, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, and North and South Sinai) as it is the only party list which successfully registered there.

It has to secure 5 percent of the vote in this constituency to be officially declared the winner.

A number of 222 individual seats are contested by hundreds of candidates in the second round. For party-based lists, a total of 60 seats in two constituencies in Cairo and the Nile Delta are in play.

The new legislature will be comprised of 596 seats: 448 elected as individuals and 120 through winner-takes-all lists. The remaining 5 percent of the parliament will be appointed by the president. The chamber is planned to hold its inaugural session in December

Egypt has been without a parliament after the 2011 lower house, dominated by Islamists, was dissolved by a court ruling in June 2012. In the next year the upper house, the only house operating at the time, was dismantled upon the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

President El-Sisi has held legislative power since taking office 17 months ago.

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