Egyptian parliamentary election, 2005


Egyptian parliamentary election, 2005

The Egyptian parliamentary elections of 2005 was the scheduled three-stage elections for determining its lower house membership. The elections formed the Eighth Assembly since the adoption of the 1971 Constitution. Over 7,000 candidates competed in 222 constituencies for the Assembly's 444 elected seats.

They were viewed as yet another test to the current wave of political reform, occurring only 2 months after the first multi-candidate presidential elections. Although the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) maintained its majority and control of the Assembly, large gains were made by others at the expense of the NDP.

Further importance is attached to these elections as a party must achieve 5% of the seats in the Assembly to field a candidate in the next Egyptian presidential elections in 2011.

Election process

The election process ran in the three stages from November 7 to December 9, 2005 using single member plurality, with over 32 million registered voters in the 222 constituencies. Official registration for the candidates began on October 12 2005.

The role of the police is restricted to maintaining peace and order at the polling stations without interference in the voting process or entering the voting stations.

1st

Ran on Wednesday November 9th, with run-off elections on Tuesday November 15th with 10.7 million registered voters covering 8 Egyptian governorates: Cairo, Giza, al-Minufiyah, Bani Suwayf, Asyut, al-Minya, Matruh and al-Wadi al-Jadid

2nd

Ran on Sunday November 20th, with run-off elections on Saturday November 26th with 10.5 million registered voters covering 9 Egyptian governorates: Alexandria, al-Buhayrah, al-Isma'iliyah, Bur Sa'id, as-Suways, al-Qalyubiyah, al-Gharbiyah, al-Fayyum and Qina.

3rd

Ran on Thursday December 1st, with run-off elections on Wednesday December 7th with 10.6 million registered voters covering 9 Egyptian governorates: ad-Daqahliyah, ash-Sharqiyah, Kafr ash Shaykh, Dumyat, Suhaj, Aswan, al-Bahr al-Ahmar, South Sinai and North Sinai.

The results are announced on a constituency basis following the vote count.

Pre-election seating

The current number of seats in the Assembly is 454, the 2000 legislative election resulted in the following seat distribution in the Seventh Assembly:
* National Democratic Party (NDP) - 417
* New Wafd Party - 6
* Progressive National Unionist Party - 5
* Arab Democratic Nasserist Party - 1
* Liberal Party - 1
* Independents - 14
* Non-Elected Members - 10

It should be noted that initially the NDP scored only 40% of the seats, but many independents switched their political affiliation back to NDP giving it its soaring majority.

Electoral Campaigns

Officially, the campaign period starts immediately after the announcement of the final list of candidates and ends one day before election day. In case of run-offs, it restarts the day following the results day to end the day before election day.Campaign expenditures are limited to not more than 70,000 Egyptian pounds, with restrictions of any foreign financial assistance or endorsements. Restrictions are also put on using public utilities (transportation, buildings, public sector companies, as well as companies with government-owned shares).

Opposition parties and groups

There were 8 recognised political parties covering a broad political spectrum and various pressure groups such as Kifaya Movement and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Monitoring

The official monitors of the elections are the judiciary and the governmental National Council for Human Rights (NCHR). Over 30 human rights organizations, civil society groups and NGOs pledged to monitor the elections.

The judiciary asked the civil society organizations to form a "National Authority for monitoring elections" that would monitor the elections. Also this authority would replace the wooden ballot boxes with transparent ones (this was done this year), put surveillance cameras inside the polling stations that would provide constant monitoring of the election process (currently under study and is done partially by the media) and to air the vote count live on state television.

Issues

The main concern during the election was not on certain electoral programs or campaigns but rather on how much the oppositions will gain which push for more reform in the future and pave the way for more balance of power in the Egyptian politics. The relevance of this year's elections to the 2011 presidential elections gives it even more importance in the Egyptian political arena. Some other issues include the potential amendments promised to the constitution, and the introduction of more laws to political and economic reform.

Election results

1st

Out of 164 seats, the NDP won 112 seats (around 75%), the secular political parties a total 5 seats and the independents a total of 47 seats. Of the winning 47 independents, 34 are Muslim Brotherhood candidates which is considered to be a major surprise in this election. By this, the Brotherhood doubled its presence in the Assembly in only the first stage.As in previous elections, many independents have switched their political affiliation after the results were announced and joined the NDP roster. According to official records, 2 300 000 registered voters have cast their votes, resulting in a turnout of around 23%.

Run-offs were held in 74 constituencies over 133 seats, with the number of registered voters reaching 9,990,550 registered voters, with a turnout of around 23%.The run-offs resulted in the winning of 85 NDP candidates, 2 New Wafd Party candidates, 2 Progressive National Unionist Party candidates, one Tomorrow Party candidate and 43 independent candidates

This stage has resulted in following distribution of 164 seats:
* NDP — 112 seats
* New Wafd Party — 2 seats
* Progressive National Unionist Party — 2 seats
* Tomorrow Party — 1 seat
* Independents — 47 seats
** (Muslim Brotherhood — 34 seats of those)

Of the most prominent politicians who lost in the elections are Ayman Nour, Tomorrow Party leader and the presidential candidate in the Egyptian Presidential election in September 2005, since arrested for corruption, also NDP's major reformer Hossam ElBadrawy, Amin Mubarak and long-time serving Fayda Kamel, and New Wafd's most prominent Coptic figure Monir Fakhri Abdel Nour.

There are officially 158 reported election law violations. However, other sources have not yet issued any reports concerning the actual number of violations. There had been incidents of violence and bribery, but the NGO's have not yet issued official statements.

2nd

Following the 1st round of elections on Sunday November 20th, only 23 seats were determined conclusively; the rest went into a runoff vote. They took place on Saturday November 26th, when 242 candidates competed for 121 seats in 68 constituencies, of which 53 were two-seat constituencies and 15 single seat.

The run-off elections were intensely competitive and violent, with a single demonstrator and NDP supporter dead. More than 800 Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested, when the police tried stopping the violence that broke out between the supporters of different candidates. Some have reported the violence from the police reached the judiciaries who were monitoring the voting. Some of the political groups and parties have even called for the Egyptian Army to go to the streets to protect the election.

Final results were announced on Monday, November 28th. The NDP won a total 90 seats (after some of the winning candidates joined the party following their victory), 46 Independent candidates (of which 42 are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, raising the group's number of seats to a total of 76 seats) and 2 more seats for the New Wafd Party party.

Also the elections have resulted in many surprise victories and losses.

Founder Khalid Muhi ad Din of the Tagamu Party lost his seat. Khalid was a long-time serving legislator and an ex-candidate in the 2005 presidential election before the party boycotted the elections. Also two more leading party figures, ElBadry Farghaly and Abo ElEzz ElHarirri lost their seats. The party secured no seats in this stage.

The NDP's former Agriculture minister and former Deputy NDP Chairman, Yousef Wali, also lost his seat.

NDP's candidate, long-time serving Assemblyman and leader of the Egyptian Labor Union, Sayed Rashed. Rashed is known for his passionate support for the NDP's leader, Hosni Mubarak.

Former Egyptian soccer goalkeeper and sports commentator, Ahmed Shobeer won as an NDP candidate in the run-offs as well.

3rd

The final stage of the election took place on Thursday December 1st, over 136 seats in 68 constituencies; 9 seats were decided: with 8 for NDP and 1 for the New Wafd Party. The NDP had achieved over half the seats despite its bad performance, and speculations still predicted that the NDP will retain at least 70% of the parliament seats which they narrowly missed.

The run-off elections were held on Wednesday December 7th over the remaining 127 seats. Eleven seats went to the Muslim Brotherhood, and NDP took 111 leaving 5 still up in the air.

The results in some constituencies are yet to be announced and 12 seats will be contested in further run-offs.

Violence spread during this stage of elections, causing many injuries and the deaths of 9 opposition supporters, according to independent sources.

The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights said the deaths came during "clashes with security forces which cordoned off polling stations to prevent voters from voting".

10 Appointed Seats

On 12 December, 2005 President Mubarak exercised his constitutional right by appointing 10 members of the Assembly. Of the appointed, five are men, five are women and four are copts.

The appointed are:
* Mohamed Dakrouri, Advisor to the President
* Ahmed Omar Hashem, former chairman of Al-Azhar University
* Edward Ghali El-Dahabi, lawyer
* Ramzi El-Shaer, former president of Zagazig University and professor of constitutional law
* Iskandar Ghattas, assistant to the Justice Minister
* Zeinab Radwan, former dean of Cairo University's faculty of Arab and Islamic Studies (Became Deputy Speaker)
* Georgette Sobhi, member of National Council for Women
* Ibrahim Habib, chairman of the Public Notary Authority
* Siadah Ilhami, sociologist
* Sanaa El-Banna, chairman of the Petrochemical Holding Company

Overall Results

The banned Muslim Brotherhood, whose candidates stood as independents, now have a record 87 seats in the 454 seat Assembly, almost six times the number it had before. They believe they were entitled to more seats and say that rigging and intimidation led to their being beaten in some constituencies.

The ruling NDP won at least 311 seats, significantly less than the 404 seats it gained in 2000, but just nine seats over the crucial two-thirds parliamentary majority (around 302 seats) required to amend the constitution.

Opposition Parties and other non-affiliated independents have collectively won the around 36 seats. With the results from some constituencies to be announced later, and seven candidates standing in run-offs, the group may make further gains.

A total of 432 members of the outgoing assembly (around 77.5%) lost their seats in the elections.

ummary of the 2005 Election Results

The 454 seats of the Eighth People's Assembly (12 seats are still in contest):

Post-election issues

General Conditions

The usual low turnout at the polling stations persisted. Voter turnout was estimated to be around 25% — some say even less. The emergence of a new type of non-political candidate — rich people seeking election for reasons unrelated to politics and willing to buy votes for money — was hardly encouraging. Many blame the NDP monopoly and firm grasp of the political system for losing the people's confidence in any real change.

Muslim Brotherhood gains

Perhaps one of the most surprising results of the elections is the quintupling of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) number of seats. The MB presently constitute the largest opposition bloc in the parliament. They obtained these seats without having a clear program or policy, running on one slogan, _ar. الإسلام الحل "ArabDIN|al-Islām al-Ḥall" "Islam is the solution".

Worries about the Brotherhood is gripping the Copts as well as Muslim moderates and in secular circles, as the MB's agenda still remains vague.

Many argue that with the MB now in the legislature rather than the underground, it will have to bring its ideas in full to the public domain, where their views will be subject to debate, criticism, revision and the transformation of its most extreme ideas to more secular ones, making the group more accustomed to the political game. These intellectuals argue that repressing religious currents does not weaken them, but instead strengthens them. Having religious groups operating without legitimacy, they tend to grow in this silence and prosper to harm the country's stability. The results of this election seemed to signal the emergence of the MB from being a popular underground organization to a civil political party.

Religion and Politics

Many political experts and writers have argued that the Brotherhood's main slogan to be a violation of the Egyptian constitution, that guarantees freedom of religious practice and equality of citizens. While the MB have continuously claimed that since the constitution takes the Islamic Sharia as one of the sources of legislation and Islam as the state religion, then the slogan is in line with the constitution and is not a violation.

Even though the NDP launched extensive campaigns that aimed at decreasing the support of this slogan and claiming the separation of the state and religion, the NDP itself as well as other groups have used either Islamic or Coptic religious figures in support of their programs.

Many analysts fear that such introduction of religion into politics would threaten reform towards a secular and liberal country as well as potentially alienating its Coptic population.

Failure of secularism

The official political parties and specifically the liberal left have lost their seats in addition to their ideological influence with the voting population. In addition to symbolic and leading figures losing their seats, the failure of its ideas in addition to its lack of mobility and genuine political activity, have put the major opposition parties with no more than 10 seats which is a very small percentage.

The major political parties formed the United National Front for Change (UNFC), which provided ambiguous programmes for political and constitutional reform yet without any connection with grassroots constituencies, resulting in wholesale losses for its fielded candidates.

The political failure doesn't only involve the opposition but also the NDP. The NDP has lost over 100 of its seats with some of its top influential reform figures as well as long-serving political figures in this election. The NDP has also failed to "get out the vote". The low turnout which is estimated to be around 25% as well as the fact that around half of the MB votes were protest votes against the NDP's power monopoly.

The NDP still maintains a comfortable hold of 68% of the Assembly seats, which shall enable it to push through its program. However, many say now that it won't be as smooth as before.

2011 Presidential elections

The failure to achieve the 5% threshold by the major opposition parties, whether independently or collectively, has endangered their involvement in the upcoming Presidential Elections in 2011. The amendment of article 76 of the Constitution, which allowed multi-candidate presidential elections, but imposed draconian rules on party nominees, is thought to be in need of alteration to remove the 5% restriction. Without such an alteration, the 2011 presidential elections will be little more than a modified version of the single-candidate poll it has been for the past 5 decades or so.

Future reform

The results of the election has triggered a fierce debate about the future of the reform process, now in the hands of the oddest of political couples; the NDP businessmen and the Islamist bloc. The exclusion of the left is rather unsettling for Egyptian political analysts. However, the continuation of the national dialogue between different political forces and groups is seen crucial for a more balanced reform.

Analysts predict inevitable clashes between the NDP and MB over policy. The assembly may quickly find itself hamstrung, in which case it might well be dissolved by the president. There had been calls from across the political spectrum that the only way out of the current impasse is to establish a new political party capable of staking out the middle ground between the NDP and MB.

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg

A number of amendments are thought to be at the head of the reform agenda. Some concern political practices, political parties law, citizenship rights, revocation of the ancient state of emergency and more democratization of the Egyptian political process. These reforms were personally announced by President Mubarak, and were at the center of the NDP official presidential and parliamentary election campaigns.

Voting system change

The failure of the parties to obtain a significant number of seats, in addition to the spread of money-induced violence and voting, have led to the belief that the current system of voting is not suitable at this stage for the Egyptian political reform. More activists and politicians are now debating changes for upcoming elections.

External links

* [http://www.eohr.org/report/2005/re1201.shtml/ Egyptian Organization for Human Rights Initial Report]
* [http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2005/771/election.htm/ Al Ahram File on Parliamentary Elections 2005]
* [http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2005/771/op3.htm/ Israel and Egypt's elections]
* [http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2005/771/ed.htm/ The Brotherhood Programme]


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