On the 18th and 19th of October Egyptian residents will vote in the first round of the elections for the House of Representatives, including in the governorates of Alexandria, Luxor and the Red Sea. On the 21st and 22nd of November the second round of the elections will be held, including in the governorates of Cairo, Suez and Sinai. A total of 27 million voters are registered to vote in the first round, while some 2,500 candidates are eligible for 286 seats in the elections in 14 governorates. It will be the first parliamentary elections since the last elections in 2011/2012. The 2014 Constitution abolished the old Shura Council (Upper House) and the old People’s Assembly (Lower House) was replaced by the House of Representatives, that will be elected these elections The elections were delayed by constitutional reforms. The results of the first round will be announced on 29 October.
In total 596 MPs will be elected by the voters in the two rounds, the highest number in the history of the country. The number of candidates remains almost at the same level as the last election, with 5,420 independent candidates and some 600 party-based candidates. 448 of the 596 seats are assigned to independent candidates, 120 seats to candidates on party-based lists and 28 seats will be appointed by the President. In the first round 60 party-based MPs will be elected, and 226 independent MPs. Of the 60 party-based MPs, 45 will be elected by the North, Middle and Upper Egypt constituencies, while 15 MPs will be elected by the West Delta constituency. The independent MPs will be elected from 103 constituencies. According to a study by Al-Ahram, 84 out of 100 registered political parties will participate in the elections, either in coalitions or by having independent candidates running. Of the 5,420 independent candidates, more than 2,200 candidates are old members of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP), 740 are liberals, 600 are leftist and 350 Islamist. The rest of the independent candidates are “without clear political affiliations”. A total of 112 woman will participate in the first round of the elections, which is 5% of the total participants. Of the 120 party-based candidates, 20% have to be Egyptian Copts.
Although around 70% of the MPs are elected as independent candidates, the 60 party-based MPs that will be elected are important as well. Many of Egypt’s political parties have formed coalitions with other political parties in order to gain more support. Seven electoral coalitions are participating in the first round of the elections. Coalitions can participate in the constituencies. In the West Delta 4 coalitions are running: The Salafist Nour Party, For the love of Egypt (Fi Hob Misr), Fordan Misr (Knights of Egypt) and a combination of the Egyptian Front and the Independence Current. In North, Middle and Upper Egypt 3 coalitions are running: Fi Hob Misr, Nadaa Misr (Call of Egypt) and the Al Shawa Al Watnya bloc. When a coalition wins more than 50% of the vote in a constituency, it is awarded all the seats in the constituency.
In the first round 7 coalitions are participating. The following are the most significant.
- The Fi Hob Misr is the only coalition that will run in all party-based constituencies, and in East Delta they are the only coalition participating. The coalition consists of 10 political parties, including the Wafd party, Conference party, and Free Egyptians party. It includes members from powerful families, former state officials, former military officers and is believed to support El Sisi’s policies. Some believe the coalition is supported and/or favored by El Sisi.
- The Egyptian Front Coalition is closely associated with the former Mubarak regime and includes the National Movement Party. The coalition is strongly opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood.
- The Nour party is the only Islamist group that is participating. It has received fierce criticism because of the Islamist element of the group, although they have been supportive of President El Sisi’s policies and election.
Egyptian Social Democratic Party
A leftist coalition was formed by the Sahwet Misr (Egypt’s Awakening), but it withdrew from the elections after a court ruled that candidates on the list had to re-take expensive medical check-ups. It included the Democratic Current Alliance, Egypt’s Popular Current and El-Karama. The Egypt Social Democratic Party (ESDP) was not part of this coalition or any other coalition and is thus only competing for the independent seats, with 90 candidates. Ahmed Fawzy, Secretary General of the ESDP, said that the party had no interest on running in coalitions as “there is a clear bias by administrative and executive authorities in favour of the “In the love of Egypt” list” and running in these coalitions will “exhaust us financially and make us look like we cannot compete”. Fawzy says that “the current authority doesn’t want politics and democracy; it doesn’t believe in democracy and freedoms”. Although the ESDP will participate in the elections, Fawzy believes the elected parliament will be “the worst parliament in the history of the country”.