Registration for Egypt parliament elections closes Saturday, potential candidates near 5,500

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 12 Sep 2015

Around 5,500 candidates have registered to run in Egypt's upcoming parliamentary polls, scheduled in October and November

Parliamentary elections
Egyptians wait in line to submit nomination paperwork for potential candidates in parliamentary elections (Photo:AP)

The window for candidacy registration for Egypt's coming parliamentary elections closed 2pm Saturday.

Speculation was rife Thursday and Friday that the polls would be either postponed, or that the candidacy registration deadline would be extended by three days after two judicial rulings on medical check-ups and electoral districts were issued Monday.

The Higher Election Committee (HEC), the seven-member judicial body in charge of supervising the polls, moved quickly Friday to reassure that the original registration deadline of 12 September would be maintained except for two districts in upper Egypt.

The committee's spokesperson, Omar Marawan, indicated that potential candidates who filed before 12 September would be granted until 15 September to submit their obligatory medical check-up reports.

Cairo Administrative Court took all by surprise 7 September when it ruled that the HEC decision to accept candidates' medical check-ups conducted in February, weeks before the polls were originally scheduled, violated the House of Representatives Law.

Marawan also said that the HEC had decided to extend registration in the two constituencies of Qena and Qous in Upper Egypt by three days, or until Tuesday. This goes in line with the 7 September ruling that the boundaries of the two constituencies should be redrawn to achieve representative equality.

While Marawan disclosed that 5,038 had registered by the end of Friday, the health ministry announced Saturday that the number of persons who applied to undergo medical check-ups in order to register in the polls had reached 5,783.

This made political observers expect that the final number of potential parliamentary candidates in the coming polls to be somewhere between 5,500 and 5,700 by the close of 15 September.

Marawan insisted that the above changes would not change the election timeline and that it would proceed as planned. "As scheduled, the period between 13 and 21 (September) will be devoted to settling appeals that might be filed by candidates and announcing an initial list of candidates," said Marawan.

The HEC said that it would announce a final list of candidates running in the first stage of polls, scheduled between 17 and 28 October in 14 governorates, on 28 September.

Most of those who registered seek to run as independents. This goes in line with the election law that states that Egypt's coming parliament be composed of 596 MPs, with 448 as independents, 120 as party-based candidates and 28 as presidential appointees.

Most political parties announced that they had submitted their lists of candidates.

The electoral coalition named "For the Love of Egypt" said it had submitted two lists of its candidates in the East and West Delta. The coalition's coordinator, Sameh Seif Al-Yazal, said the other two lists, for Cairo and Upper Egypt, would be presented Saturday.

According to the election law, four constituencies will be reserved for competition among party lists only, with two allocated 30 seats, or 15 each, and another two allocated 90 seats, or 45 each.

The "For the Love of Egypt" coalition is widely believed to be supported by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his regime, though most government officials deny that they support any electoral bloc.

The coalition includes high-profile candidates from different political parties, such as Al-Wafd and the Free Egyptians Party.

Al-Wafd's chairman, Al-Sayed Al-Badawi, announced that in addition to its candidates running on the "For the Love of Egypt" list, the party will also field around 260 candidates as independents. Al-Badawi will hold press conference Saturday night to announce the names of Al-Wafd candidates.

The ultra-conservative Salafist Nour Party, the only Islamist force contesting the polls, said it decided to field independent candidates in just 50 per cent of constituencies.

Shaaban Abdel-Alim, a leading official of the Nour Party, told Ahram Online that, "The party has decided to field two party lists only, instead of four." "We have limited the number of our candidates, either as independents or party-based ones, to show that we want to be partners with other political groups in the coming parliament, not to monopolise it," said Abdel-Alim.

Abdel-Alim's statement comes on the heels of a campaign aimed at preventing the Nour Party from contesting the coming elections upon the grounds that it is a religious party. The campaign organisers said they aim to implement Article 74 of the 2014 Constitution, which bans the formation of political parties on religious grounds.

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