The role and make-up of Egypt’s parliament

Egyptians voted in a parliamentary election on Sunday that is expected to produce another clear victory for President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Sun 28 Nov 2010, 1:28 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:19 AM

The government has promised a free, fair and peaceful vote. Opposition groups have cried foul in advance.

Below are some details about the lower house of parliament:

Electoral mechanics

The outgoing assembly has 454 seats. The new one will have 518 after 64 women-only seats were added. Women can and do run for seats outside the quota. Only 508 seats will be contested. The president appoints the remaining 10.

If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of votes, the top two candidates contest a run-off vote on Dec. 5. A ruling party official estimates that 180 seats could go to a run-off.

Parliament’s role

Parliament passes legislation but the outgoing assembly was seen as a rubber-stamp for the government because the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) had a two-thirds majority.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which fields its candidates as independents because it is not a legal party, had its most successful result in 2005 when it won 88 seats.

Election outlook

The Brotherhood’s impressive 2005 showing coincided with heavy pressure on Egypt from its ally and major aid donor, the United States, to open up its politics. That pressure, part of a drive for democracy in the Middle East launched by former President George W. Bush, faded even before he left office.

Analysts say the authorities have signalled their intentions before this vote by rounding up many Brotherhood members.

NDP officials have also predicted the Brotherhood would lose seats. Even the Brotherhood quietly admits that it may lose ground and is fielding fewer candidates than five years ago.

The liberal Wafd, a decades-old party which lacks the grassroots support the Brotherhood enjoys, is widely expected to make gains at the Islamist movement’s expense.

NDP keeps tight grip

The government says voting is free and fair, and that any violations are investigated.

The opposition and Egyptian election monitors have cited widespread abuses in previous votes, such as using security forces to block Islamist and other opposition supporters from voting. They expect similar government tactics this time.

The government has rejected international oversight of the poll. Some opposition groups say they do not want foreign involvement but complain that Egyptian monitors are denied proper access.

The NDP failed to win a majority in 2005, but maintained its grip on parliament by reinstating dozens of former party members who had quit because they were not on the NDP’s candidate list and then ran as independents, defeating the party’s nominees.

This year, the NDP is fielding more than 830 candidates, so many NDP candidates will be running against each other. Party officials say this will help to ensure that voters do not cast protest ballots for the Islamists or others out of frustration that their preferred NDP candidate was not on the ticket. Such frustrations are common in areas of Egypt where family or clan loyalties remain strong.

Party strengths in outgoing assembly

Shifting allegiances mean the tally can be fluid. Just as the NDP’s official list did not win a majority in 2005, the Wafd won only half a dozen seats, but now claims double that.

National Democratic Party - 318

Muslim Brotherhood - 86

Wafd - 12

Tagammu - 1

Al Ghad* - 1

Karameh - 2

Others including appointed MPs - 34

TOTAL - 454

· The Al Ghad party in parliament is seen as a pro-government splinter group from the Al Ghad party founded by Ayman Nour, who came a distant second to Mubarak in the 2005 presidential poll.

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