Mansoura ballot: Islamists are ahead but not unchallenged

Mansoura - Sherif Tarek, Wednesday 4 Jan 2012

The Revolution Continues vies with the mighty Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party in Mansoura during the third round of the parliamentary ballot

A farmer drives a makeshift carriage, passing under one of the numerous banners of FJP candidate Ibr
(Photo: Mai Shaheen)

A mixture of urbanity and pastoral environment, a remarkably high turnout of voters and stern electoral competition among candidates made polling in Mansoura out of the ordinary.

As the third round of parliamentary elections got underway on 3 January, constituents all over the Daqahliyah city began lining up at polling stations in the early hours of the morning.

As the work day ended, the queues grew longer as people from all walks of life and all different ages, eagerly awaited to cast their votes.

A city primarily known for its agricultural production, a sizeable percentage of voters were farmers who overshadowed the presence of metropolitan-looking constituents.

The entire turnout appeared to be a response to Mansoura’s streets, which are excessively strewn with an array of banners and placards emblazoned with candidates’ photos and slogans.

The names of many political political figures featured in the roundabouts and thoroughfares of the city, whether independent candidates or affiliated to parties and electoral coalitions.

And like the vast majority of Egyptian cities, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) had the lion’s share of banners and, many believe, votes as well.

The presence of the Salafist Nour Party, the second biggest winner in the ballot, is not to be ignored either, but unlike in most rural areas, Islamists are challenged in Mansoura.

The Revolution Continues, who has only secured a negligible amount of parliamentary seats thus far, appears to be somewhat curbing the influence of the Islamist duo in Mansoura.

The revolutionary list chiefly derives its power in Mansoura from the support of Mohamed Ghoneim, a professor and chairman of the Department of Urology at Mansoura University.

Apart from his stature as an academic, numerous Mansoura residents think the world of the iconic pro-revolution Ghoneim, and therefore, are showing faith in the Revolution Continues.

However, the FJP remains tangibly superior.        

Mahmoud Saad, a candidate on the Revolution Continues’ list for Daqahliyah’s second constituency, told Ahram Online, “We are strong here in Dekernes [Village]. But to be honest, we cannot dream of anything more than coming in second place. Securing third place would be good too.”

Saad, who runs for the professional seat, admitted that the Brotherhood’s political wing is more organized and better funded than his side. “We started our campaign a bit too late, and our lists were not formed on time either. All that took its toll on our chances,” he explained.

But Saad also spoke of the FJP’s “underhanded” tactics.

“If they win, and I think they will, the Brotherhood’s triumph will be 40% down to their credentials, and 60% to bribery and deception. The FJP, like Al-Nour Party, distribute food and gifts to people,” Saad went on. “They pretend to respect the regulations, but the truth is they are breaking many laws in the backstage.”

In general, electoral violations in Mansoura were not as blatant as in other cities, with no campaigning of any sort seen in front of polling stations during the first voting day.

“We are committed to law that bans campaigning 48 hours ahead of polling,” said Mohamed Faroun, coordinator of FJP’s candidate in Mansoura’s third constituency, Ibrahim Ali Soliman.

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