Brotherhood and Salafists set to make big gains in Alexandria

Ahram Online, Monday 28 Nov 2011

The two main Islamist currents in the country are expected to make substantial gains in the parliamentary elections in Egypt's second largest governorate

parliamentary elections
People walk past electoral banners, ahead of the parliamentary elections in Alexandria 26 November 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

All indicators in Alexandria show that Islamists parties are likely to win a large share of the seats in the parliamentary battle in the second the largest governorate in Egypt.

Alexandria will send 24 out of 498 representatives to the People's Assembly. 16 members will be elected on the basis of proportional representation from party and coalition lists across 2 large constituencies, while 8 seats will be filled by independents elected through 4 constituencies.

New eligible voters’ lists that were prepared by the Supreme Electoral Commission after the January 25th revolution show that Alexandria has 3,024,000 voters; more than 40% of these voters are under the age of 30. Alexandria voters are expected to cast their ballots in 3349 poll stations.

The Muslim brotherhood (MB), which enjoys a mass base in Alexandria, announced a strategy to win more than 30% of the seats in the new parliament.

In the 2000 and 2005 parliamentary elections, the MB won more than half of the seats in Alexandria cashing on their popularity among the middle and upper middle classes in the governorate, but failed to win seats in the 2010 elections after widespread rigging by Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) in that year's contest.

Both the MB’s Justice and Freedom party and Salafists’ Al Nour Party are competing with full electoral lists and on all independent seats.

The moderate Islamist Wassat party, a 1999 split from the Brotherhood, are only running through lists.

The MB are fielding some of the same candidates who scored a sweeping victory over the NDP in 2005 such as Hamdy Hassan and Sobhi Saleh.

The well-known reformist Judge Mahmoud el-Khoudariy who is running on the MB’s Freedom and Justice ticket as an independent in the Ramel constituency is battling Tarek Taalat Mostafa, a former leading member of ousted president Hosni Mubarak's defunct National Democratic Party (NDP)  member and one of the wealthiest construction tycoons in the country.

Some political experts believe that MB could win at least 11 out of the 24 seats in the governorate; six out of electoral lists and five independents.

The Salafist Al Nour party, experts predict, might collect five or six seats, and finish second behind the MB in Alexandria.

Meanwhile, observers think that Wassat party, facing an uphill battle against the MB and salafists, might be unable to pick up any seats in the governorate.

Other Some observers here believe that the MB’s chances of winning a majority of the seats might not be as strong as some predict becauseof the heavy voter turnout – expected to reach 50% of eligible vote compared to only 23% in the 2005 contest – might work against the Brotherhood.

Alexandria has a long history of tilting towards Islamists in elections. Both Salafists and the Brotherhood have performed well in parliamentary elections in the governorate since 1987.

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