As the vote count nears an end, preliminary results of Sunday’s parliamentary poll indicate a sweeping victory by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and a retreat for the Muslim Brotherhood and major opposition parties.
The state-owned press has headlined on its front pages news that the ruling party seems to have defeated its contenders in most of the nation’s 254 contested constituencies. Al-Ahram daily newspaper refers to provisional indicators with the headline: “The NDP is in the front,” ruling out the possibility of the Muslim Brotherhood, the regime’s main contender, having won any seats.
Heavyweight Muslim Brotherhood leader Mahmoud Ezzat said that so far no Muslim Brotherhood candidate has been announced a winner, while 15 are officially set to stand in run-off elections on Sunday.
"In many constituencies, preliminary indicators show that the Muslim Brotherhood are in advance despite vote rigging," Ezzat said. “Yet, all depends on what the judge of each polling station will announce. The judge does not necessarily announce the true result.”
Ezzat spoke to Al-Masry Al-Youm shortly after the vote count had been concluded in most districts. The figure Ezzat gave looks outstandingly meager compared with the historical victory that his group achieved in 2005. In the last parliamentary race, the country’s largest Islamist organization garnered 88 seats, establishing itself as the largest opposition bloc in parliament. Ahead of this year’s poll, many NDP leaders vowed that Islamists would not be allowed to achieve the same success again.
Margeritte Azer, the head of the Wafd Party's elections operation room, said that so far her party has won the battle in nine districts in Cairo, Sohag, Port Said and Aswan. So far, Wafd candidates are expected to stand in run-off races in 12 districts, she added.
In yesterday's poll, nearly 5000 candidates competed for 508 seats of the parliament's lower house in 254 districts. Violent clashes erupted on the sidelines of the race leaving at least two people killed, one in Cairo and another in Northern Sinai.
The voting process was allegedly marred by vote rigging and ballot stuffing in many constituencies, which prompted the High Elections Commission to invalidate nearly 50 ballot boxes.
“This parliament will not reflect the political map of Egypt,” said Hussein Abdel Razek, senior leader of the left wing Tagammu Party. “The NDP has succeeded by all means of rigging and interference to secure a sweeping majority that could exceed two thirds.”
So far, one of Tagammu’s 76 fielded candidates has officially won in the 6th of October district, while three others are expected to stand in a run-off, said Abdel Razek. One of these candidates earned 13, 890 votes, failing to secure the required 50 percent majority, which forces him to stand in another race next week against an NDP candidate who was only able to garner the support of 4000 voters, added Abdel Razek.
Many of the party’s heavyweight members have lost their electoral battles, including Badri Farghali in Port Said, Raafat Saif in Aga, Waguih Shokry in Minya, and Hussein Ashraf in Cairo, according to Abdel Razek.
“The NDP leaders are putting the country in a very dangerous situation,” said Abdel Razek. “Because they kill all hopes for change through the ballot box which opens the doors for other means to bring about change.”
The vote count kicked off last night on the heels of clashes and sweeping accusations of opposition representatives being prevented from monitoring the poll and intimating non-NDP supporters. Yet, the count itself might have witnessed other violations.
“There are many candidate representatives who withdrew from monitoring the count in objection to violations, which left the door open for further manipulation,” said Ahmed Fawzi, director of the Egyptian Association for the Enhancement of Political Participation.
Fawzi expected the NDP to come first, Wafd to come second, Tagammu to come third, and Muslim Brotherhood to come fourth.
He also expected small parties–which are usually dismissed as insignificant and incorporated by the regime–to be given a small share of the parliamentary pie.
“There are indicators that each of the small parties will be given one seat so they can participate in the presidential elections,” added Fawzi, whose group monitored the poll. So far, Mohamed Abdel Al, Chairman of the Social Justice party, reportedly won one seat in a Cairo district.
As dictated by the 2007 constitutional amendments, parties with at least one member in parliament are eligible to field a candidate in the presidential poll slated for 2011.
Observers say the NDP has been encouraging small parties to engage in elections in order to give the political process legitimacy.