NDP set for "historic" 97% parliamentary win

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 5 Dec 2010

The ruling NDP is all but certain of winning overwhelming dominance of parliament, following Sunday's vote

A police officer carries a ballot box to a counting center
A Police officer carries a ballot box to a counting center, after polls closed in Alexandria, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

 

Today's second-round parliamentary poll will see ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) candidates running against each other in 114 constituencies out of a total 166 constituencies that remained up for grab following last Sunday's first round. Even before Egyptian voters start heading to polling stations, the NDP is all but assured for a 97% majority in the next parliament.

The NDP’s six-member steering committee held an urgent meeting yesterday to review the party’s final preparations for today’s vote. NDP Secretary-General Safwat El-Sherif said the party aims to win the largest number of seats.

“Our preparations are in full swing to score a sweeping victory and win the greatest majority of seats in the coming parliament,” said El-Sherif, adding, “chairmen of the NDP’s provincial offices are under strict orders to mobilize the party members and officials to vote in favour of the party’s official candidates.” In El-Sherif’s words, “we told senior party officials in 29 governorates that they must fight the runoff battle with a high degree of enthusiasm, seriousness and determination.”

Joining with El-Sherif, Ahmed Ezz, the NDP’s secretary for organisational affairs and one of Egypt’s top business tycoons indicated that “the party’s strategy, based on fielding double candidates for the same seat and mobilising its two-million-member voting bloc, aims to achieve a historic victory in today’s runoff polls.”

Ezz also explained that the NDP’s Central Operations Room will keep in contact with the party’s operations rooms in all governorates to review the progress of voting.

More than 100,000 NDP representatives will be available in all polling stations to "guide" the party’s members and ensure that they vote for its candidates, says Ezz.

“Our campaigning will also include the Internet, reaching out to the largest number of social networks such as Facebook to answer questions about the party,” Ezz said.

On another front, senior NDP officials launched an intense counter-offensive against the Wafd Party, taking its leaders to task for failing to win a decent number of seats in the election’s round first. According to El-Sherif, “The NDP cannot be bothered by the attacks of a party that suffered a stunning defeat in the first round, and decided to run away from the runoff battle.”

In El-Sherif’s words, “The Wafd party went into shock due to the insignificant number of votes they got in the first round and by the fact that it was the NDP that won the trust and confidence of the majority of voters.”

El-Sherif’s attacks came after the Wafd Party decided last Thursday to boycott today’s runoff battle. The Wafd won just two seats in the first round, while nine of its candidates were able to make it to today’s second round. Leaders of the Wafd charge that the first round vote was rigged in favour of NDP candidates and vowed that they would do their best to put the legality of the coming parliament into question.

Rejecting the Wafd’s charges, El-Sherif described the first round balloting as a “democratic landmark”, adding that “voters freely chose their representatives from among those who wish to preserve security and stability; those who do not trade in religion or hid behind its mask.”

 

In today’s second round, 566 candidates are competing for the remaining 283 seats of the People’s Assembly. Officials of the Higher Elections Committee (HEC), the body appointed by President Hosni Mubarak to oversee the polls, said a number of election irregularities in the first round had led to excluding four constituencies in the Nile Delta governorate of Kafr El-Sheikh from today’s runoff contest. According to HEC, official results from the 28 November first round, the NDP won 209 seats or slightly over 40 per cent of the 508 seats of the lower house of parliament.

Only 12 seats were won by non-NDP candidates in that round.

In today's poll, the NDP is fielding 386 candidates running against 136 independents, 27 Muslim Brotherhood, 9 Wafd, 6 Tagammu, and one for each of two marginal parties —the Democratic Peace and the Republican parties. The HEC indicated that today’s list includes candidates of the Wafd and Muslim Brotherhood, irrespective of their declaration of boycott. “Requests submitted for withdrawing or boycotting the polls can never be accepted before or during the voting day,” HEC chairman, Judge El-Sayed Abdel-Aziz Omar said.

The Wafd and Brotherhood’s boycott of today’s run-offs will give the ruling NDP a free hand to win an easy victory. Senior officials acknowledged that NDP candidates will be contesting against each other in 114 districts out of a total 166, not to mention that 90 per cent of the 136 candidates competing as independents are in fact renegade NDP members who decided to run against the official party ticket. Invariably, as has been the case in many previous elections, they rejoin the party fold once they won their seats in parliament.

“The NDP is assured, one hundred per cent, of winning at least an additional 120 seats, because the competition in 114 districts is confined to NDP official candidates competing against each other,” boasted Ezz, adding: “NDP candidates are also braced to clinch a large number of seats, while competing against NDP-independents and the remaining few opposition figures.”

Amr Hashem Rabie, a political analyst at the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, expects that the NDP will end up winning no less than 97 per cent of the seats of the coming parliament.

“We will be hurled back to the 1990s, when the lack of full judicial supervision gave the NDP majorities of more than 97 per cent, and total control of parliament,” said Rabie, arguing that “today’s runoff is primarily a NDP versus NDP battle.”

Rabie went on to describe today's poll as "a farce", because it lacks the principal feature of a democratic election, which is competition between various contending political forces.

Despite the Wafd’s boycott decision, at least 5 of its 9 candidate who made it to the runoff roundsaid they would take part in today’s contest. Topping the list is business tycoon Rami Lakah (running in north Cairo’s district of Shubra), Atef Al-Ashmouny (running in east Cairo’s district of Al-Matria), Mohamed El-Malky (running in downtown Cairo’s district of Al-Gamaliyya), Tarek Sabbaq (running in north Cairo’s district of Rod El-Farag), Omran Megahed (running in Damietta governorate’s district of El-Zarqa), and Magda El-Neweshy (running in Ismailia governorate).

The NDP’s El-Sherif was full of praise for the participating of Wafdist candidates, saying that “their decision not to boycott the election is to be highly appreciated because they put legitimacy and loyalty to voters above partisan interests.”

A Muslim Brotherhood candidate —Magday Ashour, running in east Cairo’s district of Al-Nozha —also decided to take part in today’s runoff.

The runoff will see stiff NDP versus NDP competition. In Qalioubiya governorate, north of Cairo’s district of Shubra El-Kheima, NDP candidate and Al-Ahram journalist Abdel-Mohsen Salama is fighting a hard battle against NDP veteran MP Eid Salem Moussa. In the Tanta district of the Nile Delta governorate of Gharbiya, NDP candidate Ahmed Shubair, a football star, is engaged in a cutthroat competition with Yasser El-Guindy, another NDP candidate and a business tycoon.

Four NDP candidates who were heads of committees of the outgoing People’s Assembly also face a tough battle today. The list includes Hamdi El-Sayed, chairman of the Doctors Syndicate and of parliament’s Health Committee, in East Cairo’s district of Al-Nozha, Abdel-Reheim El-Goul, chairman of the Agriculture Committee, is running in the district of Nagaa Hamadi in Upper Egypt’s Qena governorate, while Farouq Taha, chairman of the Defence and National Security Committee, is running in the district of Abu Qorqas in the Upper Egypt governorate of Minya. Ahmed Abu Taleb, chairman of the Culture Committee, is running in the Tamiya district in the governorate of El-Fayoum, to the south west of Cairo.

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