44 political parties contested in 1st stage ‎of Egypt's parliamentary elections: Report

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 19 Oct 2015

A semi-official report concluded that a list of 44 political parties ‎‎– out of a total 83 – contested in the first stage of Egypt's ‎parliamentary elections that opened Saturday

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."‎

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