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NDP discomfort over election results

Even within the ranks of the ruling party there is a certain unease about the results of Egypt's legislative elections

Dina Ezzat , Wednesday 1 Dec 2010
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All are not celebrating in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). While the NDP is making fast headway in securing an extremely comfortable majority in the next parliament, there are voices — even if not so many within the ruling party — who argue that 217 seats for the NDP and eight seats for the opposition, including independents of NDP origin, is an exaggerated figure for any properly democratic context.

"Less would have been more dignifying [for the image of the party]," argued one of the dissenting voices.

The NDP member, who sits on the Gamal Mubarak-chaired Policies Committee, argues that when all is said and done, political opposition in Egypt remains very weak and that the NDP "has a presence on the ground" and financial and political influence. He also argues that the level of intervention in favour of NDP candidates in the first round of this year's elections is significantly less than the second and third rounds of the 2005 elections when alarm raised by the sweeping victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the first round prompted a considerable "reaction" in the second and third rounds.

"Still, things did not need to go so far. This is damaging to the credibility of our image as a party that seeks to cement the call for democracy," the NDP member acknowledged.

According to the same source, there is "a serious debate now" within the party on "the best approach" towards the second round. He said that there are "some" within the NDP who argue that "we need to act in a way that will not undermine our credibility nor that of the secular opposition," especially the liberal Wafd and leftist Tagammu parties.

"To leave all the secular opposition with much fewer seats than the 88 seats that the Muslim Brotherhood managed to secure in the outgoing parliament is a message to public opinion that the political presence and influence of these parties is insignificant. This is damaging," he said.

The source added that it is also damaging to make the Muslim Brotherhood, "who enjoy a certain presence among the public whether we like it or not," look like the perfect victim because that brings them more public sympathy.

The source, who spoke to Ahram Online on strict conditions of anonymity, added that those who are expressing concern are too few to influence the NDP electoral machinery that appears to be heading towards the second-round run-offs with the same plan as during the first round.

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