The results of the first stage of the Senate elections were announced on 19 August. Lasheen Ibrahim, head of the National Elections Authority (NEA), said in a press conference that 14 per cent of Egypt’s 62.94 million eligible voters had cast their ballots during the four-day voting period.
“The low turnout was no surprise. But it was at least higher than the turnout for the 2012 Shura Council election, when just 12 per cent of voters bothered to go to the polls,” said Al-Ahram political analyst Amr Hashem Rabie.
Ibrahim stressed that the Senate poll was held in difficult circumstances, against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, and during the sweltering heat of August.”
While Rabie concedes coronavirus had an impact on voter numbers, he argued that the major factors behind voter apathy was the fact few people know what the Senate will actually do, and the widespread feeling that the results were a “foregone conclusion”.
Ibrahim announced that the Mostaqbal Watan Party-led National Unified List won 100 party list seats unopposed, of which the party itself takes the lion’s share. And of the 74 individual candidates who won seats in the first round, 68 were affiliated to Mostaqbal Watan.
Hossam Al-Khouli, deputy chairman of Mostaqbal Watan, said the party would fill half of the seats won by the National Unified list, and that as well as securing 68 individual seats in the first round, 24 Mostaqbal candidates would be competing in the run-offs due on 8 and 9 September.
Ibrahim confirmed the figures, saying 52 candidates, 24 of whom are affiliated with Mostaqbal Watan, will compete for 26 seats in 14 governorates in the run-off round.
Campaigning for run-offs will take place between 20 August and 5 September.
According to Ibrahim, candidates could file appeals against the results of the first round between 20 and 22 August, which the Supreme Administrative Court will adjudicate by 31 August at the latest.
On Saturday the court said that it had received 27 appeals.
The Mostaqbal Watan-led National Unified List included candidates from 11political parties. Among the better known were Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razek, head of Mostaqbal Watan Party and a former chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Mahmoud Bakri, deputy editor of the weekly Osbou newspaper, Tarek Al-Tohami, secretary-general of the Wafd Party, Yaser Al-Hodeibi, deputy chairman of the Wafd Party, Hossam Al-Khouli, secretary-general of Mostaqbal Watan Party, and Farid Al-Naqash, editor-in-chief of the Tagammu Party’s weekly mouthpiece Al-Ahali.
The list also included real estate tycoon Mohamed Al-Morshedi, construction magnate Ahmed Sabbour, stock market broker Ahmed Al-Manzlawi and the Alexandrian industrialist Mohamed Rashad Othman.
The People’s Republican Party, led by business tycoon Ahmed Abu Hashima, managed to win five seats, one each in the governorates of Cairo, Menoufiya, Gharbiya, the Red Sea and Alexandria, and two of its candidates will compete in the run-offs.
The Wafd, Egypt’s oldest opposition party, failed to win a single individual seat. Bahaaeddin Abu Shoka, chairman the party, said an urgent meeting will be held this week to discuss the poor performance of its Senate candidates.
“The party does not have any candidates in the run-off stage, and the results are sounding alarm bells given the House of Representatives election is due in November,” said Abu Shoka.
Five parties will join Mostaqbal Watan and the People’s Republican Party in the run-off round, the Islamist Nour Party (with four candidates), the Guardians of the Nation (three candidates), the Congress (one candidate), the National Movement (one candidate), and the Ittihad Party (one candidate).
Only one independent, non-affiliated candidate, John Louis, won a seat in Cairo in the first round, though 16 independents will take part in the run-offs.
Women candidates failed to win a single individual seats though 17 female candidates on the Unified List secured places in the Senate.
A total of 797 candidates competed for the 100 individual seats in the 300-member upper chamber.
The run-off election will be held on 6-7 September for Egyptians abroad and on 8-9 September for resident nationals.
The final result is set to be announced on 16 September.
The Senate will act as an advisory chamber to the House of Representatives. The first session of the new council, during which senators will be sworn in, is scheduled for October.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 27 August, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.