The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) is expected on Sunday to announce its list of 508 candidates to compete for parliamentary seats, including those allotted to women, state-run daily Al-Ahram reported.
The official list will include all government ministers, along with a number of public figures.
At a press conference on Saturday, NDP Secretary-General Safwat al-Sherif asserted that the party’s method of selecting its candidates was “democratic,” and aims to provide Egyptian voters with the “best choices” available. Al-Sherif declined to specify the proportion of old to new candidates, merely noting that 18 candidates would run as independents.
State-run magazine Rose al-Youssef, however, reported that an estimated 30 to 40 percent of the NDP's parliamentary nominees–between 140 and 170 candidates–would be new ones.
Fierce competition over NDP nominations in the run up to parliamentary elections–slated for 28 November–has raised a number of questions regarding the fate of excluded candidates, the party's strategy for dealing with them, and the effectiveness of existing criteria for candidate selection.
An average of 25 candidates per seat are vying for NDP nominations, while an average of 8 candidates per seat are vying for nomination by the opposition Wafd Party, Hazem Abdul Rahman wrote in Al-Ahram. At the same time, however, the selection process lacks transparency in all political parties, including the ruling NDP, Abdul Rahman wrote.
Excluded candidates are often unaware of the reasons why they were passed over, while decisions are frequently made on the basis of personal relationships and financial considerations. Abdul Rahman contends that Egypt’s law on political rights must set down clear and objective guidelines for the selection process, with a view toward limiting the role of personal and financial considerations.
News that Amin Radi, vice president of parliament’s defense committee, won the NDP nomination for Kafr al-Zayyat caused an uproar among would-be NDP candidates in Gharbiya. In 2005 elections, Radi had changed his status from "professional" to "worker" in order to avoid competing with Mohammed Fathi al-Baradei and Talaat Abdul Qawi. Members of the governorate's municipal council who had been competing for the nomination–protesting the lack of clear criteria for the selection of candidates–threatened to resign en masse from the party if Radi was chosen.
Issues of fairness aside, the large number of excluded would-be nominees presents a challenge for the NDP as it attempts to control its own rank and file and preempt competition from independent candidates. Writing for state-run daily Al-Akhbar, Sherif Riyad argued that the NDP was “smart enough” to learn from its past mistakes and keep its members under control in the upcoming races.
The NDP has closed all doors for candidacy outside the party by requiring members to sign official agreements barring them from running independently in the event that they were not nominated by the ruling party. The NDP has also confiscated the national identification cards of several of its members to further discourage splintering.
Despite preemptive steps like these, however, several candidates–learning hours before the announcement of the party's official list that they had been passed over–decided to run as independents. In a surprising development, Al-Ahram reported that Magdi Khatab, current NDP representative at Al-Ahram, announced on Saturday that he would run independently following leaks that his name was not on the party’s candidate list.
In the Cairo districts of Bab al-Saariya and Al-Mouski, meanwhile, several candidates–including Zaki Salah, former NDP secretary for Al-Mouski, and Ahmed Abdul Fattah Hafez, NDP media secretary for Bab el-Shariya–have also reportedly decided to run as independents.
Al-Ahram went on to report that several would-be candidates in Kafr al-Sheikh were similarly considering independent candidacies. A total of 159 would-be nominees competed for the NDP nomination for the governorate. According to state-run daily Al-Gomhuria, Hamam Abdin, the party’s representative for Gohayan, Sohag, has also decided to run as an independent.