The National Election Authority is scheduled to hold a press conference on 1 November to announce the results of the first stage of Egypt’s parliamentary election, held between 21 and 25 October.
Semi-official figures released by judges supervising the elections show that the Mostaqbal Watan-led National Unified Coalition has won the 142 seats reserved for party list districts in 14 governorates: 100 seats in North, Middle and South Upper Egypt, and 42 seats in the Western Delta. Its only opponent was the little-known Call of Egypt bloc.
In Upper Egypt, which includes 11 governorates, the National Coalition came first in the vast majority of constituencies. In Beni Sweif governorate it won 60,663 votes against Call of Egypt’s 46,608. In Giza it scored 70,148 votes, far ahead of Call of Egypt’s tally of 12,474 votes. The only governorate in which Call of Egypt came first was Luxor, where it received 51,534 votes against the National Coalition’s 45,255.
Mostaqbal Watan-led National Coalition candidates in Upper Egypt included Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal; deputy head of the party and head of parliament’s Youth and Sports Committee Ashraf Rashad; head of parliament’s Human Rights Committee Alaa Abed; journalist and MP Mustafa Bakri; former secretary-general of the House of Representatives Ahmed Saadeddin; head of parliament’s African Affairs Committee Tarek Radwan; head of parliament’s Agriculture Committee Hisham Al-Shini, and head of parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Karim Darwish.
In the Western Delta district (which includes the three governorates of Alexandria, Matrouh and Beheira), the National Coalition also triumphed. In Matrouh supervising judges said the National Coalition received 48,345 votes, far ahead of the Call of Egypt’s 9,756 votes.
The National Coalition’s candidates who won in the Western Delta include Sahar Talaat Mustafa, a former head of parliament’s Tourism Committee; Ahmed Al-Sigini, head of parliament’s Local Administration Committee; and Rashad Othman, an Alexandria businessman.
The 142 independent seats up for grabs in the first stage were contested by 1,800 candidates. Mostaqbal Watan Party candidates appear to have won many outright, without the need for run-offs. In the Giza and Dokki district, for example, two Mostaqbal Watan candidates — businessman Mohamed Abul-Enein and Zaki Abbas — won the two seats.
Though Abul-Enein, a high-profile businessman and owner of the ceramics Cleopatra Group, technically ran as an independent, he is deputy chairman of Mostaqbal Watan. He was competing against journalist Abdel-Rehim Ali and Ahmed Mansour, son of the controversial chairman of Zamalek Sporting Club, MP Mortada Mansour. The vote-count showed Abul-Enein won 125,758 votes, followed by Mostaqbal Watan’s official candidate Abbas on 83,995.
Gamal Zahran, a political analyst, said “Abul-Enein exemplifies the growing interest of businessmen in joining parliament.
“They think they need to have legislative powers to promote a market economy agenda,” said Zahran.
“Under the Mubarak regime, businessmen used to pay money in return for being placed on the official list of candidates fielded by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). Now they have changed tactics and instead of the defunct NDP they pay Mostaqbal Watan to secure an official nomination.”
Several TV talk shows have accused Mostaqbal Watan of accepting money from businessmen.
Hossam Al-Khouli, deputy chairman of Mostaqbal Watan, confirmed to Sada Al-Balad TV channel on Saturday that “it is no secret that the party receives money from businessmen against nomination.
“Yes, we get money from businessmen who want to run as party list candidates and not as individuals, but the money they pay is really insignificant, ranging from LE250,000 to LE300,000 only, and not millions as some like to claim,” he said.
Judges supervising the vote-counting process on Sunday night and Monday morning said many current MPs who ran as individual candidates failed to retain their seats. One judge anticipated “a highly exciting and competitive run-off round on 23-24 November”.
Zahran expects the pro-regime Mostaqbal Watan Party and its allies to repeat its first round success in both the run-offs and the second round.
Most independent observers and monitors agreed the turnout ranged between average to high. Ahmed Maklad, a member of the so-called Political Parties’ Youth Coordination Committee, said in a TV interview that monitors in the first stage’s 14 governorates observed a high turnout in villages and rural districts and a moderate to low turnout in urban areas.
“We think the turnout will be a little bit higher than for the Senate election (14 per cent), and that this trend will continue in the second stage,” said Maklad.
“No significant complaints or irregularities were reported,” said the joint mission of international NGOs observing the poll.
The mission noted that security forces did not intervene in the polling process. “The only role security forces played was to guarantee that voting stations were safe and citizens did not face any kind of threats or intimidation,” said the mission.
Ahmed Al-Asoomi, head of the Arab Parliament, said in a press conference on Monday that the first stage of Egypt’s parliamentary election had been held in an orderly fashion.
“Holding the election was a challenge given the coronavirus pandemic, but the government took all the necessary protective measures,” said Al-Asoomi. “It was remarkable to observe that senior citizens and women were the most keen to vote, and that large numbers of physically challenged persons also participated in the election.”
The National Election Authority (NEA) said that no complaints were reported on the two days of voting. NEA head Lasheen Ibrahim also said no violations or disruptions to the electoral process were reported.
The State Information Service said turnout on the second day of voting (25 October) increased gradually throughout the day, and that it was highest in rural areas. It also confirmed the high turnout among senior citizens and women.
According to the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights, 627 women are participating in the elections, representing 8.6 per cent of all candidates.
Ibrahim said last week’s voting was supervised by 12,000 judges.
“Candidates who want to file appeals against the results of the election can do so on Monday and Tuesday, meaning on 1 November we will be in a position to announce the final results,” said Lasheen. “Voting in the second stage of parliamentary elections, which includes 13 governorates, will take place from 4 to 6 November for Egyptian expats and on 7-8 November for citizens at home.”
The total number of eligible voters in Egypt is 63 million, out of a population of 100 million. There were an estimated 33 million eligible voters in the first round.
The governorates included in the first stage of parliamentary elections were Giza, Fayoum, Beni Sweif, Minya, Assiut, Al-Wadi Al-Gedid, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, the Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira, and Matrouh. The second stage will include the governorates of Cairo, Qalioubiya, Daqahliya, Menoufiya, Gharbiya, Kafr El-Sheikh, Sharqiya, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai, and South Sinai.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 29 October, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly