Egyptians make their way past banners with photos of parliamentary election candidates hung on a street, during the first round of the parliamentary election, in the Boulaq El Dakrour district of Giza, near Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015 (AP)
Statistics prepared by Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS) revealed that 44 political parties contested in the first stage of Egypt's parliamentary elections. The ballot that covers 14 governorates with some 27 million voters opened on Saturday and will close on 28 October.
The ACPSS figures indicate that the number of legally licensed political parties decreased to 83 in 2015. They were over 100 in 2012.
Amr Hashem Rabie, an Ahram political analyst, told Ahram Online that "the political developments in Egypt in the last two years have negatively impacted political parties."
"This eliminated Islamist political parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, while many of the young revolutionary forces that came into being since the removal of former president Hosni Mubarak from office in February 2011 have become far less active," said Rabie.
"Out of total [44 parties], 13 participated as members of electoral coalitions competing for party-based seats and 31 fielded candidates as independents," said Rabie.
The first stage saw eight electoral coalitions with 240 candidates compete for 60 seats reserved to party-based candidates in two constituencies: the Nile West Delta (with 15 seats) and the North, Middle, and South Upper Egypt (with 45 seats).
It also saw around 2,573 vie for 226 seats allocated to independents.
The so-called For the Love of Egypt electoral coalition, widely believed to be supported by Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, includes some of Egypt's oldest and most active political parties such as the Wafd and the Free Egyptians, headed by business tycoons Al-Sayed Al-Badawi and Naguib Sawiris respectively.
ACPSS's statistics also show that Wafd has come on top in terms of number of independent candidates in the first stage. While Wafd has fielded around 300 independents, the Free Egyptians Party has put forward 250.
The ultraconservative Salafist Nour party, the only Islamist force contesting the polls, decided to compete in one party list constituency – the Nile West Delta – with 15 seats. Nour also fielded around 200 candidates as independents.
The alliance of the Egyptian Front and the Independence Current was accepted by the High Election Committee -- that is in charge of supervising the polls -- as an electoral coalition with 60 candidates competing in the first stage's two party list constituencies in West Delta and Upper Egypt.
Rabie believes that the three factions – the For the Love of Egypt, the Nour and the alliance of the Egyptian Front and the Independence Current – will dominate Egypt's new parliament.
Rabie also said that the above statistics clearly show that the performance of secular political parties has become generally weak in the past few years.
"It was supposed that the elimination of the two forces which have dominated Egyptian politics since 1980 – Hosni Mubarak's defunct ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and Muslim Brotherhood – would leave the field wide open for old political forces like the Wafd party or new revolutionary factions like the Constitution Party – to penetrate Egyptian cities and villages and create power bases there, but this has never happened," said Rabie, arguing that a "lack of money, ideological differences and internal divisions have left most of the new political parties completely unable to gain ground in different parts of Egypt."