Ahram Online, by Gamal Essam El-Din
Preliminary reports from the second stage of Egypt's parliamentary elections suggest a second landslide victory for the pro-Sisi 'For the Love of Egypt' coalition
Initial figures from the second stage of Egypt's parliamentary elections suggest that the For the Love of Egypt coalition, widely believed to be loyal to President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, is likely to emerge victorious, trouncing two rival secular coalitions – the Republican Alliance of Social Forces and the National Movement and Independence Current Alliance – and one Islamist force, the ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party.
Observers and media reporters attending the vote-count on Monday night confirmed that For the Love of Egypt has won the two constituencies reserved for party-based candidates in the second stage: Cairo and the Nile South and Middle Delta with 45 seats, and the Nile East Delta with 15 seats.
The above results mean that the coalition has won all 120 seats reserved for party lists in the two-stage poll. These form around 23 percent of seats in Egypt's new parliament.
Sameh Seif El-Yazal, the For the Love of Egypt coordinator, told reporters Tuesday that the coalition's victory in the second stage was even larger than in the previous stage.
"We won 67 percent of the vote in Cairo and the Nile South and Middle Delta and 72 percent in the Nile East Delta," said El-Yazal, referring to the fact that his coalition's gain in the first stage did not exceed 60 per cent of the vote.
El-Yazal said that the For the Love of Egypt coalition, together with its allied political parties, has now become well placed to be the dominant bloc in Egypt's new parliament.
As in the first stage, the three secular political forces forming part of the For the Love of Egypt coalition – the Wafd, the Free Egyptians Party and the Future of Homeland – have shown strong performance in the second stage. Initial reports show that out of 326 candidates fielded by these parties as independents, 145 were able to qualify for the run-off stage, scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday.
In the first stage, held between 17 and 28 October, independent candidates affiliated with the three above-mentioned forces were able to win around 70 seats. If added to the 120 party-based seats the For the Love of Egypt coalition has won, they would make a total of 190 seats, or more than 30 percent.
Al-Yazal said last September that the coalition “aims to act as a back-up force for El-Sisi in the coming parliament”.
The fact that one political faction – For the Love of Egypt – has monopolised all 120 seats reserved to party lists in the two-stage polls has provoked criticism from rival forces.
Tahani El-Gibali, coordinator of the Republican Alliance, attacked the leaders of For the Love of Egypt, accusing them of using unscrupulous methods to win the Cairo and Nile Delta's 45 seats.
El-Gibali claimed at a press conference on Monday that For the Love of Egypt obtained cash donations from members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait, as well as money from the US, France and seven other foreign countries.
El-Gibali's remarks were strongly condemned by Osama Heikal, a former information minister and a leading official at For the Love of Egypt, who said that the coalition intends to file a lawsuit against El-Gibali.
"This is the best way to respond to her because we do not allow ourselves to be dragged into verbal clashes with our rivals," said Heikal.
Prominent winners on the For the Love of Egypt list include Heikal, now the chairman of the Egyptian Media Production City; Taher Abu Zeid, a former sports minister; Mahmoud Badr, the founder of the anti-Islamist tamarod (rebel) group; Akmal Qortam, an oil business tycoon and head of the Conservatives Party; Tarek El-Khouli, a former spokesman for the 6th of April Movement; Mohamed El-Sallab, a construction magnate businessman; and Alaa Abdel-Moneim, a former leftist MP. The victorious list also includes 24 women and 10 Copts.
Islamists, leftists struggle
The ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party continued its poor performance in the second stage. Not only did Nour failed to win the 45-seat party list constituency – the Cairo and Nile South and Middle Delta – which it chose to contest in the second stage, but initial reports suggest that it has trailed far behind the other three rival secular coalitions competing in this constituency, and that none of its 73 candidates standing as independents won a seat or was even able to qualify for the run-off round. In the first stage, Nour gained only eight seats, reversing its strong performance in 2012 when it won 112 seats, or 22.1 percent.
Yusri El-Azabawi, an Ahram political analyst, noted in a TV interview that the victory of For the Love of Egypt came at the expense of not only the Nour Islamists, but also the anti-Mubarak 25 January revolution forces which are fiercely critical of president El-Sisi.
The Egyptian Social Democratic Party, a force representing the anti-Mubarak 25 January, won only three seats in the first stage.
El-Azabawy also notes that leftist forces have come out almost empty-handed in the second stage. No one from the 38-year-old leftist Tagammu party, which fielded 13 candidates as independents in the first stage and 10 candidates in the second stage, has won seats. Only Abdel-Hamid Kamal, the Tagammu's candidate in Suez city and a former MP, was able to qualify for the run-off stage. This is in addition to Nashwa El-Deeb, an independent who won a seat with the leftist Arab Nasserist party in the first stage.
Unlike in the first round of the first stage in which only four independent candidates won seats without facing a run-off round, around 10 were able to win seats outright and without a run-off.
A number of high-profile figures top the list of these winners, including Mortada Mansour, a flamboyant lawyer who heads Zamalek Sporting Club, and whose son, Ahmed, also won a seat in the first stage. Also included are Khaled Youssef, a high-profile movie director; Ali El-Moselhi, a former minister of social solidarity and a former leading official of Mubarak's now defunct ruling National Democratic Party (NDP); Talaat El-Sewedy, a former NDP official and an electricity cable business tycoon; Mahmoud Khamis, a former NDP MP and a major textile industrialist; journalist Ahmed Badawi; Samir Ghattas, a political analyst; and Mahmoud Othman, a former NDP official and a construction magnate who is the son of late housing minister Othman Ahmed Othman, the founder of the giant Arab Contractors Company. Mahmoud Othman is married to Jihan El-Sadat, the daughter of late president Anwar El-Sadat.
Two independent candidates – Ibrahim Abu Shiira and Gazi Abed – were able to win seats in the troubled governorate of North Sinai. El-Azabawy notes that despite terrorist threats afflicting it, North Sinai came on top in terms of turnout rate.
"A record 44 percent of voters turned out to vote in this terror-stricken governorate," said El-Azabawy.
He also notes that the turnout for Egyptian expatriates increased by 22 percent in the second stage, with the majority voting in favour of For the Love of Egypt. Most observers believe that the turnout in the second stage will be revealed to have ranged between 30 and 35 percent, compared to 26.5 percent in the first stage.
El-Azabawy also notes that many of Mubarak's NDP officials were able to win seats this week, while many others have qualified for the run-off round to take place on 1 and 2 December.
The results show that senior NDP officials who qualified for the run-offs include Hussein Megawer in Cairo's Maadi district; Moataz El-Shazli, the son of the NDP's late parliamentary affairs minister Kamal El-Shazli in Meoufiya governorate; and Ihab El-Omda in north Cairo's district of Shorabiya; and Mohamed Hammoud, a lawyer defending former NDP millionaire Ahmed Ezz, in Cairo's Boulaq.
By contrast, Mohamed Abdel-Alim, a long-time Wafdist MP and a fierce critic of Mubarak and his son Gamal, lost in Kafr El-Sheikh governorate.