Guide to Egypt’s election
|Wednesday, November 9,2005 00:00|
Guide to Egypt’s election
Of the 454 seats, 10 are appointed by presidential decree and 444 are elected.
There are over 32 million registered voters out of an estimated population of 74.9 million.
The campaign runs from 27 October, when the final candidate list was published, till the day before polling day.
The Parliamentary Election Commission, chaired by the justice minister, sets the election rules and oversees the whole process.
It set a campaign spending limit of 70,000 Egyptian pounds (about $12,150) per candidate.
But a report by the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights says that the spending of some candidates reached 3-5 million Egyptian pounds.
This is the first time transparent ballot boxes are being used in Egypt to prevent election fraud.
CANDIDATES AND PARTIES
In stage one, over 1,500 candidates are contesting 164 seats in 82 constituencies.
The total number of candidates exceeds 5,000 and comprises 444 from the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), about 700 from opposition forces and about 4,000 independents.
PARTIES FIELDING CANDIDATES
The president’s son, Gamal Mubarak, wants to modernise the NDP by replacing a third of its existing MPs. An estimated 2,000 NDP dissidents are running as independents.
An opposition alliance called the National Front for Change, comprising 12 political groups, has announced a list of 225 candidates.
The Front includes three of the opposition parties already represented in parliament: the New Wafd Party, the Nasirite Party and al-Tajammu.
Another key opposition party, al-Ghad, whose candidate Ayman Nur came second to Hosni Mubarak in the presidential election, is struggling after a rift between Mr Nur and a rival, Musa Mustafa Musa.
The Muslim Brotherhood slogan "Islam is the solution" has sparked controversy among many politicians, who say it is unconstitutional as it mixes politics and religion.
This is the first time the movement’s candidates have presented themselves on election posters and banners as Muslim Brotherhood candidates.
Brotherhood sources say that the security services have put pressure on its candidates not to mention the group’s name or its slogan.
Government officials as well as many intellectuals have criticised the group for exploiting religion to gain voter sympathy.
But the MB leadership says that the slogan reflects the nation’s identity. Another MB slogan is: "Together for reform".
On 27 October the Information Ministry launched a new TV channel called "Parliament Channel" to cover the elections.
Observers say the state-owned media have been offering relatively balanced coverage.
However, one independent weekly reported that the prime minister had instructed state-owned newspapers to ignore Muslim Brotherhood candidates, a claim the prime minister denies.
The Muslim Brotherhood has launched campaign radio casts on its website.
Despite lobbying by US and other western officials, international monitors have not been invited.
Egypt’s constitution says the judiciary should supervise the elections, but does not make clear the extent or nature of this supervision.
A landmark court ruling on 6 November gave Egyptian NGOs the right to monitor voting directly, both inside and outside polling stations.
They had brought the case after the election commission earlier said they could just "follow" - rather than "monitor" - the process.