Political parties step up campaigning for Egypt's first stage of parliamentary elections

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 11 Oct 2020

Around 2,000 candidates stand in the first stage in 14 governorates

Archival photo from the 2015 parliamentary elections

Independent and party-based parliamentary candidates in 14 Egyptian governorates have stepped up their election campaigns before the campaigning period ends 18 October, or next Sunday.

Egypt's National Elections Authority (NEA) said the papers of 4,032 individual candidates and eight coalitions had been accepted. "This is the final number of parliamentary candidates in the two-stage election and after the Supreme Administrative Court finished settling appeals last week," said the NEA.
The NEA said voting will take place on October for expatriate Egyptians and 24 October for Egyptians at home. "Egyptian expatriates should register their names on NEA's official website between 8 and 10 October in order to be able to vote by mail on 21-23 October,” the authority noted.
Semi-official figures show that about 2,000 individual candidates and two coalitions — the National Unified List led by Mostaqbal Watan party and the Call of Egypt — are competing for the first stage seats.
The first stage's 14 governorates include Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assuit, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira and Marsa Matruh. As many as 284 seats will be up for grabs in this stage, with half — 142 seats — allocated to individual candidates and the other half to party lists.
There will be two party list districts in the first stage: the North, Middle and South of Upper Egypt (100 seats) and Western Delta (42 seats).
The NEA said candidates are not allowed to use slogans that discriminate on religious or racial grounds, or use public sector institutions or means of transport, or mosques or churches, to serve their electoral campaigns.
The NEA said an individual candidate can't spend more than LE500,000 on campaigning and in case of a re-run, the amount will be reduced to LE200,000. It added that a 100-seat party list can't spend more than LE10.6 million and in case of a run-off the amount will not exceed LE6.6 million. A 42-seat party list can spend LE7 million only, and in case of a run-off can spend LE2.8 million.
The NEA said campaign donations should come from Egyptians only and that a donation shall not exceed five percent of the maximum ceiling of spending on election campaigning.
Meanwhile, an international mission on Egypt's 2020 parliamentary elections released a report on the nomination period, running from 17 September to 5 October. The mission, including seven human rights organisations from Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the NEA followed democratic rules in implementing the nomination period. "But there were some negative points such as courts taking too much time in settling election appeals," said the report, also adding that "the number of individuals and party lists excluded was also a negative point."
The report continued that the nomination period — from 17 to 26 September — was short. "We received many complaints that the nomination period was not enough for many to prepare and submit their papers," said the report.
The international report, however, argued the fact that as many as 4,032 individual candidates and eight party coalitions will stand demonstrates that the election will be competitive. "It is also good that there will be discrimination in favour of some marginalised sectors such as women who will fill at least 25 per cent of parliament's seats," the report stated.
The first stage will see fierce competition in some districts such as Giza where businessman Mohamed Abul-Enein and journalist Abdel-Rehim Ali will compete against each other. Abul-Enein and Ali are current MPs.
In Giza, some 16 political parties have candidates in this governorate, with Mostaqbal Watan coming first with 23 candidates.
The Mediterranean city of Alexandria will also see tough election battles between independent and party-based candidates. Some 17 political parties have fielded candidates in Alexandria. They are competing for 16 seats in five districts in Alexandria.
Statistics show that the pro-government party Mostaqbal Watan has fielded the largest number of individual candidates, with 284 individual candidates in the two stage election. The party, via the National Unified List, will also compete in four party list districts.
In some districts, such as upper Egypt's city of Qena, two Mostaqbal Watan candidates will be in competition against each other.
The last few days saw a large number of public rallies that were organised by the Mostaqbal Watan party, the Free Egyptians Party, the Guardians of the Nation Party and the Wafd Party. 
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