"For the love of Egypt" coalition organising meeting (Photo: Al-ahram)
Preliminary reports suggest the "For The Love of Egypt" coalition, which supports the agenda of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, has swept to victory in the list-based system in the first phase of Egypt’s parliamentary elections, with Islamist rivals the Nour Party lagging far behind.
Arabic language media and candidate representatives reported these unofficial results after attending vote-counting at the close of polling on Monday night. The official results are due to be announced by the High Elections Committee on Thursday.
“For the Love of Egypt”, led by former intelligence officer Sameh Seif Al-Yazal, appears to have emerged victorious in the winner-takes-all list-based system in the 14 governorates which voted in the first phase, winning 60 seats across the Upper Egypt and West Delta districts.
The performance of Nour contrasts starkly with their showing in the 2012 parliamentary elections, the first since the 2011 revolution that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, when they won the second most seats of any party, after the Muslim Brotherhood, to emerge as a main player in a parliament that was dissolved that same year
After supporting the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, Nour have been the only Islamist party to survive a security crackdown on Islamist groups in the past 14 months.
The success of “For the Love of Egypt” is likely to boost efforts to amend the 2014 constitution, with some of its members suggesting powers granted constitutionally to parliament should be relinquished to the president to strengthen his hand.
The president stopped short of openly supporting calls for such amendments but, in what analysts have said is a thumbs-up to the initiative, he said the constitution was “written with good intentions but good intentions are not enough to build a country”.
“The coalition aims to act as reinforcement for El-Sisi in the coming parliament,” Sameh Seif Al-Yazal, chairman of the Gomhouria Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, said last month.
According to the constitution, which was approved by overwhelming majority in a referendum in early 2014, the president’s appointment of a prime minister must be approved by parliament. Parliament also has the power to impeach the president in certain circumstances.
Some critics argue that the House of Representatives will only rubber-stamp El-Sisi’s executive orders, given the lack of prominent opposition in the parliamentary elections due to the absence of Brotherhood candidates and other non-Islamist oppositional figures.
The president has signed more than 200 executive orders into law since taking power in June 2014. The new parliament will be mandated by the constitution to review all laws passed in its absence.
Although there are 10 political parties running on the coalition's lists including the Wafd Party, the Free Egyptians Party and the Conference Party, "For the Love of Egypt" is "an electoral coalition and not a political party", Mohamed Al-Orabi, a former foreign minister who is running on the coalition's list, had earlier told Ahram Online.
"We don't have a certain ideology. We promote the idea that our four lists include experienced men and well-known former parliamentarians, and Egypt needs figures which can handle and sustain parliamentarian issues and laws."
The public figures on For the Love of Egypt lists include Sameh Saif Al-Yazel, a former intelligence officer and a security expert, Mustafa Bakry, a pro-Sisi journalist and former parliamentarian, Mohamed Farag Amer and Mohamed Zaki El-Sewidi, former NDP parliamentarians and businessmen, Taher Abu Zeid, a popular 1980s footballer and former sports minister, Ossama Heikal, former information minister, and Amna Nosseir, an Al Azhar scholar.