By Marwa Al-A’asar
The results of the 2010 elections of Egypt’s bicameral parliament are likely to shape the country’s political life for the coming few years.
Most opposition groups and parties believe that the People’s Assembly (the Lower-House of Parliament) and the Shoura Council (the Upper-House) elections were orchestrated to guarantee a sweeping victory for the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).
The NDP won a sweeping victory in both parliaments, the Shoura Council and the PA, amidst allegations of violations committed by the authorities in favor of the ruling party candidates.
The NDP won 420 out of 508 seats in the PA — while Al-Wafd won six seats, Al-Tagammu won five and the Democratic Peace Party and the MB Brotherhood (MB) won one each.
“The fact that the NDP … won [about] 90 percent of the PA seats in 2010 raises a question mark,” said Amr El-Chobaki, senior researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
“This tremendous victory does not imply genius; we are talking here about the regime’s party,” he added.
The MB withdrew from the polls after the first round. Yet one Brotherhood member who won a seat in the runoffs decided to accept the post and become an MP. The MB fired him two days after he took his service oath.
Likewise, Al-Wafd boycotted the elections after the first round, freezing the memberships of seven members who decided to defy the party’s will and register as MPs.
The party officially informed the PA that it has no parliamentary representation there, which rules out Al-Wafd as a possible competitor in the presidential elections. The constitution stipulates that a party has to have at least on seat at the parliament in order to nominate a presidential candidate.
One Al-Ghad member had won a seat in the first round even though the party had boycotted the elections.
Sixty-nine independent candidates, not including the MB, who also ran as independents, won.
“This is a dangerous indicator [as the current] parliament does not represent the new political forces,” El-Chobaki told Daily News Egypt.
“Neither does it represent the opposition,” he added. “[That’s why the current] parliament lacks credibility.”
Such results indicated that the main player in the race for the presidential elections will be the ruling party where no real opposition is present, or legally eligible, to compete over the country’s most important position.
The 2010 PA elections were the first to be held following the constitutional amendments enacted in 2007, which allow any political party to put forward a presidential candidate provided that it has a minimum of one seat in the PA.
One month prior to the PA elections, NDP senior member Ali Eddin Helal announced that President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in office since 1981, would be the party’s official candidate if he was willing to run.
This announcement came a few months after some campaigns led by individuals claiming to have no connection with the NDP called for nominating Mubarak’s younger son, Gamal, for presidency in the coming round, leaving observers puzzled about the possible inheritance of power scenario raised over the past few years.
During the 2010 PA elections, the NDP unprecedentedly fielded more than one candidate in the same constituencies to compete with each other in a bid to split votes and win as much seats as possible.
In 2005, the NDP competed with the MB and other political parties. “In 2010, the NDP competed with itself,” El-Chobaki said. In 2005, the MB won 88 seats, or fifth of the PA, making it the largest opposition bloc.
“The available political parties including Al-Wafd, Al-Tagammu and the Nasserist, are the victims of the political disruption that began since the 1952 Revolution … in addition to the crackdowns on all opposition [trends],” said Nabil Abdel-Fatah, senior researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
“Other political parties … and opposition groups calling for change, specially the National Association for Change (NAC), represent a deep gap between a base [of supporters] and a party [the NDP] that represents social and political interests,” Abdel-Fatah told Daily News Egypt.
Earlier in Aug. 30, opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei’s had called on Egyptian citizens and all opposition groups and parties to boycott the PA elections.
Only a few parties and opposition groups responded to his call, while the MB group and opposition parties including Al-Tagammu and Al-Wafd decided to field candidates in the polls, realizing later that it might have been the most unsound decision.
Opposition groups, parties and human rights organizations have repeatedly called for dissolving what they described as the “null and void” PA that does not represent the will of the Egyptian people.
A few days after the runoffs, former parliamentary candidates including members of the MB and Al-Wafd Party filed 20 complaints before the Administrative Court against the results of the PA elections, calling for its annulment and a redo of the elections. Hundreds of lawsuits were filed to challenge the legitimacy of the parliament as a whole.
On the day of the first PA session, former opposition MPs swore themselves in to an “alternative parliament” on the steps of Cairo’s State Council. Around 30 members of Al-Wafd and Al-Karama political parties, the MB and ex-independent MPs took the oath of allegiance in unison — at the same time as the PA’s 514 elected and appointed MPs were also sworn in.
Opposition members and former MPs, including Hamdeen Sabbahi (center left) and Mohamed El-Beltagi (center right), protested that the new parliament is null and void. (Daily News Egypt photo/Sarah Carr)