Senate poll kicks off

Gamal Essam El-Din , Friday 24 Jul 2020

Campaigning for the Senate elections begins on 27 July, reports Gamal Essam El-Din

Senate poll kicks off

Lasheen Ibrahim, head of the National Elections Authority (NEA), announced Sunday that the papers of 762 candidates for the 9 August Senate elections had been accepted. Ibrahim also revealed that the NEA had rejected 150 candidates for failing to submit the required documents.

Rejected candidates can appeal the decision between 22 and 24 July, and a final list of the candidates will be announced on 26 July. Ibrahim said campaigning will kick off on 27 July and continue until 7 August. There will be a silent day on 8 August, after which the polls will open on 9 August.

“Final candidate lists will be published in two state-owned newspapers so that voters can identify the candidates,” said Ibrahim. Two lists will be published — one with party list candidates, the second with the names of candidates standing individually.

Candidates are prohibited from raising religious slogans or using mosques or churches for campaigning. Ibrahim stressed the media must refrain from spreading rumours, or showing bias to particular parties.

In a meeting with the National Press Organisation and the National Media Organisation on Saturday, Ibrahim said media outlets would also be banned from conducting opinion polls.

“The media should provide fair coverage and deal with candidates on an equal footing,” he said.

Initial tallies suggest the Mostaqbal Watan Party will field the largest number of candidates, with reports suggesting 93 members will be contesting the 100 individual seats.

Mostaqbal Watan also dominates among the11 political parties running under the umbrella National Unified List, fielding 59 candidates. The other parties include the People’s Republican (10 candidates), the Guardians of the Nation (10 candidates), the Wafd (six candidates), the National Movement (two candidates), the Reform and Development (three candidates), the Tagammu (one candidate), the Conference (one candidate), the Egyptian Freedom (one candidate), the Egyptian Democratic Socialist (three candidates), and Modern Egypt (one candidate).

The Conservatives Party, led by business tycoon and MP Akram Qortam, announced that it would boycott the Senate election as a result of “problems and obstacles candidates faced when submitting their registration papers even though they followed all the instructions imposed by the National Elections Authority”. The party opposed the constitutional amendments passed in April 2019 and has taken a strong opposition line over the last 12 months.

The Ghad, led by former presidential candidate Moussa Mustafa Moussa, refused to join the National Unified List, opting to run on its own.

The Mostaqbal Watan-led unified list will include the party’s leader, former chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razek, deputy chairman of the party Hossam El-Khouli, Wafd Party deputy chairman Yasser Al-Hodeibi, Wafd assistant secretary-general Tarek Al-Tohami, editor of the Tagammu Party’s mouthpiece Al-Ahali Amina Al-Naqash, deputy editor of the independent weekly Al-Osbou Mahmoud Bakri, Chairman of the Egyptian Socialist Democratic party Farid Zahran, economics professor Rasha Al-Mahdi, former chairman of the Social Fund for Development Hani Seif Al-Nasr, Al-Ahram journalist Abu Siri Imam, and Chairman of the Syndicate of Engineers Reda Al-Shafie. It also includes media mogul and steel tycoon Ahmed Abu Hashima.

Yasser Al-Hodeibi, deputy leader of the Wafd Party, said the party will field candidates in 10 governorates.

There are two other party lists, the Ittihad and Long Live Egypt coalitions, which include candidates from low-profile political parties.

In Alexandria, the initial list of candidates competing for seven individual seats has reached 72. These include candidates from Mostaqbal Watan (six candidates), the Guardians of the Nation (five candidates), the Salafist Nour (four candidates), the Reform and Development (two candidates), and Al-Nahda (two candidates).

Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat, head of the Reform and Development Party, told Al-Ahram Weekly there is an agreement among parties joining the Mostaqbal Watan-led National Unified List that individual candidates also coordinate ahead of the poll.

“I think all parties should view the Senate election as an opportunity to reactivate political life and so I am against any form of boycott,” said Sadat.

“Political parties should see the Senate election as a warm up for the House of Representatives’ poll due in November, an opportunity to gauge their popularity on the street and ascertain whether voters are still suffering from election fatigue.”

“There are fears that turnout will be low, not least because of the coronavirus,” but Sadat says this should not be taken as a reason to delay the poll because the country needs to move forward on all fronts.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 23 July, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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