Twenty-seven courts nationwide began receiving candidate nominations for the Senate elections on Saturday. The window for nominations will remain open until 18 July.
According to National Election Authority (NEA) chairman Lasheen Ibrahim, 382 candidates had registered by the end of Sunday.
“This is an average number, not so big, not so small,” said Ibrahim. “Running in the Senate election is costly in terms of campaigning. An individual candidate will be required to cover a wide geographic area over a long period of time.”
“The two-week campaign period will run from 20 July to 7 August, with 8 August a silent day. The poll will take place on 11 and 12 August, though Egyptians abroad will cast their ballots earlier, between 9 and 11 August.
Sixty-three million Egyptians will be eligible to vote in the Senate election.
“The polls will be supervised by 20,500 judges,” said Ibrahim, “and 163 media organisations, and 13 foreign and Egyptian civil society organisations, will take part in monitoring the vote.”
Ashraf Rashad, secretary-general of Mostaqbal Watan (the Future of the Homeland Party), the largest party in the House of Representatives, says the party will field candidates in all of the 100 seats reserved for independents.
Individual Mostaqbal Watan candidates who registered for the poll this week include party leaders Essam Hilal, Giza governorate secretary-general Adel Nasser, political analyst Amr Okasha, former MP Abdu Abu Aysha, former Shura Council member Mahmoud Abu Sidira, and former MP Hassan Al-Aish.
Rashad said that following two rounds of negotiations with 15 political parties, Mostaqbal Watan has also prepared “a national unified list” that will contest another 100 seats reserved for party lists. The National Unified List includes Free Egyptians, the Wafd, the Congress, the Egyptian Socialist Democratic, the Tagammu, Ghad, Modern Egypt, the National Movement, the Will of the Generation, and the Egyptian Freedom parties.
“Mostaqbal Watan is the only party capable of fielding individual and party list candidates across Egypt,” said Rashad. “We have offices nationwide, and the financial resources to campaign in all districts.”
Mostaqbal Watan is a staunch supporter of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.
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 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, economic 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.
The Guardians of the Nation Party has said it will not join the Mostaqbal Watan-led Unified List. “We can win a lot of seats without the support of others,” says party leader Galal Haridi.
The Republican People’s Party has also opted to run alone. Topping the list of its candidates is high-profile media mogul and steel tycoon Ahmed Abu Hashima.
The Salafist Nour Party will also field individual and party list candidates. They include Deputy Chairman Al-Sayed Khalifa, secretary-general Mohamed Ibrahim Mansour, party leadership office members Abdallah Badran and Talaat Marzouk.
The Senate will comprise 300 members, one third elected via the individual candidacy system, a third via closed party lists, and a third to be named by the president. The Senate law stipulates that 10 per cent of Senate seats be reserved for female candidates.
Under the law, says Lasheen, 100 independents will be elected in 27 districts. There will be four party list districts, two of which will elect 15 representatives, and the remaining two 35 each. “Party lists competing for in the 15-seat districts must include a minimum of three women, and seven women in the 35-seat districts.”
Political analyst Amr Hashem Rabie says the final number of Senate candidates is unlikely to be high.
“This is due not only to the high costs of campaigning, but because the Senate’s powers are insignificant when compared to the former Shura Council, which was dissolved in 2013.”
“The Senate, unlike the Shura Council, will not have control of the national media or political parties. The former Shura Council was authorised to supervise print media and name editors, license political parties, and discuss budget and development plans, none of which applies to the Senate,” says Rabie.
The Senate election is Egypt’s first for a second chamber since the Shura Council was dissolved in 2013. The 2014 constitution did not envisage a second house, though constitutional amendments passed in 2019 made room for the Senate.
A law regulating the second chamber was passed by the House of Representatives on 17 June.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 16 July, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the title: Candidate registration