Elections Monitor: Opposition parties respond to first round losses

After suffering severe losses in the first round of parliamentary elections, Egypt’s opposition parties and movements are condemning electoral violations and threatening to take steps to contest the results.

The NDP-led government, however, continues to defend the integrity of the elections. Editorials in state-run newspapers attribute opposition losses to their failure to respond to voter demands.

“The Council of Ministers: The Elections represent a model and the negative [aspects] are a product of competition,” reads the front-page headline in state-run Al-Ahram. According to the report, the council of ministers held a meeting on Tuesday in which it expressed its gratitude to the High Elections Commission for its role in producing model elections. During the meeting, Minister of Interior Habib al-Adli, however, conceded that the competitiveness of the elections led to some negative conduct during the electoral process.

Writing for state-run Rose al-Youssef, Abballah Kamal argues that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)’s inability to secure any seats in the first round of elections constitutes a serious blow to a network of media and political interests that was closely tied to the group's sizable parliamentary presence. According to Kamal, voters punished Muslim Brotherhood candidates because they did not deliver while in office. The MB’s ability to secure 20 percent of the seats in the 2005 People’s Assembly election, Kamal adds, has less to do with the movement’s popularity than with its organizational capacity.

Notably, several prominent Brotherhood party leaders lost their seats, reports privately-owned Al-Shorouk. Some of the prominent losers include head of the MB parliamentary bloc Mohammed Saad al-Katatni, member of the MB guidance bureau Saad al-Husseini, and MB media spokesperson Hamdi Hassan.

According to al-Katatni, the losses of several top figures were deliberate and pre-determined, adding that the Brotherhood's failure to win a single seat in the first round represents a “big scandal” for the ruling regime. Al-Shorouk also reports that Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie during a press conference on Tuesday announced the guidance bureau will consult with the movement’s institutions in making decisions regarding withdrawal from the run-offs.

Brotherhood official spokesperson Essam al-Eryan told Al-Shorouk, however, that withdrawal is very unlikely.

At a press conference on Monday night, Wafd president Sayyed al-Badawy–whose party secured only two seats in the first round according to Al-Ahram–described elections day as a sad day in the history of political life and a day of attack against democracy, reports privately-owned Al-Dostour. Al-Badawy said NDP representatives won through thuggery, violence, and vote-buying, and not as a result of voters’ support. Al-Badawy described the High Elections Commission as simply “decorative” and called upon it to live up to its responsibility to investigate hundred of complaints regarding electoral violations.

State-run Al-Gomhorriya reports that Wafd party president Sayyed al-Badawy tasked Yassin Tag Eddin, the party’s vice president, with forming a legal team charged with filing electoral contestations to the People’s Assembly and relevant courts in light of the violations that occurred on election days. The team, according to the coverage, is comprised of lawyers from within and outside the party.

For its part, the Tagammu party launched a powerful attack against the High Elections Commission in a statement released on Tuesday, according to Al-Ahram. The statement laments the absence of the commission from the electoral process and charges the commission is ineffective and has no teeth. Pronouncements made by NDP officials regarding the integrity of the elections are a clear challenge to reason and to Egyptians and their free will, according to the statement. The statement also raised questions regarding the integrity of the 2011 presidential elections in light of the fraud committed in this year’s poll.

Badr Farghali, a prominent Tagammu Party figure, along with 125 Tagammu party leaders in Port-Said, submitted collective resignations to Tagammu’s president, protesting the party’s policies, including its alliance with the ruling regime, reports Al-Ahram. The resignation request noted that the party lost all the principles upon which it was founded as well as its credibility. The request also lamented the party’s poor performance in the 2010 elections, and accused Refaat al-Saeed of striking suspect deals that led to a loss of credibility for all party members. In his letter to Saeed, Farghali stressed that he lived a lie for 40 years and has woken up to find his party a new branch of the NDP.

Finally, President of the Free Republican Party Hossam Abdul Rahman asserted that he and his party deeply regret their participation in the elections, describing them as a “bad play.” Abdul Rahman argued that the participation of municipal employees in manning polling stations is a sign of corruption. Abdul Rahman asserted that all opposition parties are unsatisfied with the conduct of the elections.

Egypt's papers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run

Rose el-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party's Policies Secretariat

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

Youm7: Weekly, privately owned

Sawt el-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

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