Candidates of Al-Nour Party are rolling up their sleeves to compete for 27 seats in eight governorates during the runoffs of the Egyptian parliamentary elections’ first round, scheduled for 5 and 6 December. After highly competitive two-day polling, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) is now set to be Al-Nour’s arch rival, although both sides are from the Islamic current.
Al-Nour, the biggest Salafist party and the leading player of the Islamic Bloc that includes Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya’s Building and Development Party and Al-Asala Party under its umbrella, is the second biggest winner in the first round, having seized 25 per cent of the votes, whereas the FJP amassed 40 per cent to emerge as the would-be dominant force of Egypt's first post-revolution parliament.
The elections’ first round took place in Cairo, Alexandria, Assiut, Luxor, Kafr El-Sheikh, Port Said, the Red Sea, Fayoum and Damietta. Al-Nour mostly trailed behind the FJP except in the latter governorate, where the Salafist party got 38 per cent of the votes, six per cent ahead of the Brotherhood, who showed notable supremacy in the other eight governorates.
During the first round, held on 28 and 29 November, both Al-Nour Party and the FJP reportedly took turns to slam each other with accusations, some of which were substantiated with video evidence. Leafleting, bribery and even forgery were among the charges going in both directions and have tarnished both sides’ relationship with each other.
“Actually, it was the Brotherhood who accused us of violations. We didn’t say anything,” Al-Nour Party spokesperson Yossri Hamad told Ahram Online, refuting reports claiming the accusations were mutual. “The reason behind these false accusations is that the Brotherhood let the youth handle their electoral campaign; they really shouldn’t have.”
Both Al-Nour Party and the FJP were also accused of these charges by forces from across the political spectrum.
Previously, Al-Nour Party, along with Islamic Bloc members the Building and Development and Al-Asala parties, were part of the Democratic Alliance for Egypt, which is led by the FJP. Weeks before the elections, however, the three parties defected from the alliance in protest against their paltry shares on the alliance’s electoral lists, following on the heels of other groups who had earlier parted company with the Brotherhood, such as Al-Wafd Party.
Despite the end of their cooperation, Al-Nour and the FJP had a gentleman's agreement to vie with each other in an honest way in the first two polling days of the ballot, according to Al-Nour’s spokesperson Nader Bakar. Now with both sides at loggerheads, the runoffs and next stages will see no such understandings between them.
“There isn’t any sort of coordination between us and the Brotherhood this time around,” Hamad stated. On the other hand, the head of the Supreme Committee for Elections, Abdel Moez Ibrahim, assured that the necessary procedures would be taken in the runoffs to avoid violations seen during the first round.
In the imminent runoffs, Al-Nour will be vying in the same governorates of the first round except for the Red Sea. In Alexandria, where an abundance of Salafists are located, observers expect to witness the most heated two-horse race between Al-Nour and the FJP.
Five Al-Nour candidates will compete with their FJP counterparts in the coastal city, while the Salafist party is reportedly backing up independents Tarek Talaat Mostafa, an ex-member of the National Democratic Party (NDP), and Moussa El-Senousi against Brotherhood-supported Mahmoud El-Kodeiry and Saber Aboul Fotouh respectively.
“The competition is going to be extremely tough for sure, especially in Alexandria and Damietta, where we have six candidates,” Hamad said. “We also support some independent candidates who we believe in.”