NDP Loses Big to Muslim Brothers in 2nd Round

NDP Loses Big to Muslim Brothers in 2nd Round

The transparent electoral boxes did not stop fraud and rigging claims.

By Hamdy Al Husseini, IOL Correspondent

CAIRO, November 22, 2005 (IslamOnline.net) – The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) emerged as the frontrunner in Egypt’s second round of general elections, grabbing 13 seats, out of a total 22 that were settled, according to almost final results Tuesday, November 22, with Washington voicing concern over “violence” that was the major headline of the second round.

The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) – headed by incumbent President Hosni Mubarak – won only six seats and the remaining three went to independents.

The performance of the Muslim Brotherhood means, according to observers and political analysts, that the banned but largely tolerated Islamist group is set to score a total of seats amounting to at least 75, making it the main opposition block in the coming parliament.

41 other MB candidates are contesting a run-off Saturday, November 26, out of a total 59 candidates named by the group in the second round. The figures mean that only 5 candidates lost outright in the polls Sunday, November 20.

Some 122 seats are to be settled in the hot run-off next Saturday, where 48 NDP candidates are running, some of them are heavyweights, who will try again to win seats they usually grabbed unchallenged in previous elections.

Provocative Forgery

One of the MB losers is former MP Gamal Hishmat, whose crushing victory over NDP heavyweight was reported by a state-owned daily early Monday after the end of vote counting.

According to Al-Misaa daily, a state-owned publication, Dr. Mostafa Al-Fiqy, Hishmat’s opponent had lost outright to Hishmat, with over 20,000 votes difference in favor of the MB candidate. While Hishmat’s representatives and supporters celebrated his victory, the judge made some calls, according to Hishmat himself, and two hours later Al-Fiqy was declared winner.

Al-Gomhourya daily, the big brother publication of Al-Misaa, Tuesday, November 22, ran a major headline reading: “NDP scores crushing victory in the second round of polls”, with a sub-headline reading: “Al-Fiqy trounces Hishmat”.

The result came as a shock not only to Hishmat’s supporters, but also to monitors and observers, who accused the Egyptian regime of cracking down under the huge gains and unexpectedly strong performance by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hishmat told IOL he would go to court to regain “my right that has been stolen by fraud and rigging”, adding he would ask for “an international probe into the unbelievable forgery of people’s will”.

Traditional political parties, meanwhile, continued their weak and disappointing performance of the first round, not securing a single seat in the second round and only five of their candidates waiting for the run-off.

In the first round, political powers and opposition parties grabbed only 6 seats, out of 164, compared with 114 for the NDP (after accepting back some 48 renegades, who ran as independents), 34 MB members and the rest remained independents.

The elections started Wednesday, November 9, with the run-off 6 days later. The third and final stage is to kick off December 1, and run-offs will be contested December 7, with the first session of the new parliament slated for December 20.

US “Concerned”

Hishmat said he would ask for “an international probe into the unbelievable forgery of people’s will”.

Violence and intimidation, under the watchful eye of state security forces, made the most remarkable phenomenon of the second round.

Late Monday, the United States expressed “real concern” over violence in Egypt’s parliamentary elections and said it expected the Cairo government to ensure a vote free of intimidation.

But the State Department kept its silence on gains registered by the Muslim Brotherhood, insisting that Egypt respects a political process where “all voices are heard”, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Spokesman Sean McCormack spoke a day after the second phase of voting in Egypt, marked by widespread reports of voter intimidation and violence, with at least one election-related death.

“We have noticed recently that there has been an uptick in the level of violence, and this is something that is of real concern,” McCormack told the department’s daily briefing.

“We have talked to the Egyptian government about this issue and urged them to provide an atmosphere so that these elections may unfold in an atmosphere in which people are able to express themselves freely.”

McCormack said Washington had “every expectation” that the government of President Hosni Mubarak, one of its staunchest allies in the Middle East, shared the same goal.

“We think that that is important not only for the Egyptian people, but also for the international perceptions about how the electoral process unfolds, and so that it may unfold in the most free, fair and transparent manner possible.”

Political experts in Egypt had predicted that Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, while in no danger of losing its majority, would use strong-arm tactics to prevent the Islamists from making further inroads.

McCormack made no reference to the election results, other than to say that “a number of independent candidates” appeared to have won seats.