The Higher Election Committee (HEC) confirmed on Monday that though the door for candidate registration will close on Saturday as planned potential candidates will be allowed three additional days — until 15 September — to provide the results of mandatory medical tests after a Cairo administrative court ruled the examinations candidates underwent in February must be retaken.
During the first five days of candidate registration 4,136 people put their names forwards, says the HEC. The majority is seeking to register as independent candidates.
Committee spokesman Omar Marawan said 2,745 names were submitted on Tuesday, the first day of registration, 672 on Wednesday, 203 on Thursdayand 57 on Friday.
Registration numbers dropped sharply on the fourth day “because it was Friday, a weekly holiday on which registration offices work six hours rather than the eight hours they work during the rest of the week”.
“The number of candidates will sharply rise when mainstream electoral coalitions submit their lists of candidates,” says Marawan. “Coalitions usually wait until the final days of registrationto submit the papers of their candidates. The only coalition to that submitted the papers in the first five days was the Call of Egypt, a political bloc including a number of independent revolutionary figures.”
Of the nominations received so far 3,000 are to contest the 448 seats allocated to independent candidates and 1,000 for seats allocated to party lists. Only 230 women have registered as candidates.
Political analysts say the downward trend in candidate registration numbers is partly due to the internal divisions that have hit secular political parties.
On Friday Sameh Seif Al-Yazal, coordinator of the For the Love of Egypt coalition, said attempts to join forces with the Egyptian Front had faltered.
The political divisions that have plagued the Egyptian Front recently were to blame for the failure to unite, said Seif Al-Yazal.
The two electoral coalitions are believed to be supported by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and his government, something Seif Al-Yazal, a former intelligence officer and currently chairman of Al-Gomhouria’s Strategic and Political Studies Centre, denies.
“Our coalition was formed to help ensure secular forces have a majority in the coming parliament. We will also work to guarantee the coming parliament operates in harmony with the president and in the interests of Egypt,” Seif Al-Yazal said in a recent press interview.
The Egyptian Front coalition is dominated by the National Movement and Egypt My Homeland, two political parties that have their roots in the Mubarak-era National Democratic Party and which characterise the 2011 uprising against Mubarak as an American conspiracy.
The coalition is led by Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak’s last prime minister and a presidential candidate in 2012, who currently lives in the United Arab Emirates.
“Coordination with For the Love of Egypt failed because they wanted the upper hand in preparing the lists of candidates,” said Shafik in a public statement issued on Friday.
The following day he insisted in an interview that he was still in favour of non-Islamist political parties joining a single electoral alliance.
“Political parties submitting different lists of candidates to compete in party-based seats are not acting in the interests of the nation. I hope we will be able to mend fences and join forces,” he said.
Emad Gad, an Al-Ahram political analyst and official with the For the Love of Egypt, issued a contradictory statement on Monday in which he denies the electoral coalition with the Egyptian Front had faltered. “Already 11 Front candidates appear on the party lists complied by For the Love of Egypt”,” said Gad.
Commentators argue that power struggles within secular political forces in recent weeks could help the election prospects of the Nour Party, the only Islamist party contesting the poll.
Al-Ahram political analyst Wahid Abdel-Meguid told Al-Arabiya satellite channel on Friday that “Egypt’s civil forces, which came into existence after the revolutions against the regimes of Hosni Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood, are still weak and fragile”.
“I do not expect any of these forces to win more than seven or eight per cent of the seats reserved for party based candidates while the Nour Party, which has a strong grassroots organisation in rural areas of the Delta and upper Egypt, could secure 20 per cent.”
The last few weeks have seen several resignations among the heads of secular political parties.
The first to go was Hala Shukrallah, chairwoman of the Dostour Party, who resigned on 19 August. She was followed by Mohamed Abul-Ghar, chairman of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, who resigned on Thursday.
Both parties are pro-revolution groups that emerged after Mubarak was ousted from office in February 2011.
On Thursday Yehia Qadri, deputy chairman of the National Movement Party, announced that he was resigning in protest at his party’s failure to join the electoral coalition led by For the Love of Egypt.
Last month saw the Wafd Party split into two warring factions after a splinter group calling itself Wafd Reformers accused Wafd Party Chairman Al-Sayed Al-Badawi of corruption and demanded his resignation.
Al-Badawi insists divisions in the party will not affect its performance at the polls.
“Our party candidates will run as part of the For the Love of Egypt coalition, and 900 other members will stand in independent seats,” said Al-Badawi. “By Sunday 207 Wafdists had submitted nomination papers to stand in independent constituencies.”
Many high-profile public figures submitted papers during the first five days of registration and yet more intend to do so. They include human rights activists, former cabinet ministers, business tycoons, film directors, football players, former military officials, former securitychiefs and onetime leading members of Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).
On the first day of registration film director Khaled Youssef submitted his papers.A left leaning political activist, Youssef hopes to stand as an independent in the Kafr Shukr district in the governorate of Qalyubiya.
He was joined by film actor Hamdi Al-Wazir who is hoping to win a seat in the Cairo district of Al-Wayli and Hussein Megawer, former head of the General Egyptian Federation ofTrade Unions (GEFTU) and a leading figure in the NDP, who registered to run in south Cairo district of Maadi.
Mohamed Al-Guindi, who acts as a lawyer for former interior minister Habib Al-Adli, has submitted his papers to run in North Cairo district of Sharabiya.
Ali Al-Demerdash, Cairo’s former security chief, has also registered as a candidate.
On Tuesday Fathi Sorour, Egypt’s longest-serving parliamentary speaker (1990-2010) and a member of the Mubarak inner circle, said he has rejected a request from former NDP officials and residents of Al-Sayeda Zeinab, which he represented in parliament for 20 years, to run in the election.
On Wednesday Hafez Abu Seada, chairman of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR), submitted his papers to run in Maadi.
Esmat Al-Merghani, head of the Free Social Party, also announced his decision to run, as did political and military expert Hamdi Bekhit.
The For the Love of Egypt electoral coalition submitted its list of candidates on Monday. The coalition, originally formed by Mubarak-era prime minister Kamal Al-Ganzouri, faced a barrage of criticism for being a front to allow for the return of former NDP officials to parliament.
Though Al-Ganzouri’s successor Seif Al-Yazal insists the coalition will be fielding candidates who had no connection with the Mubarak regime, informed sources say the initial list includes a significant number of former NDP officials.
Topping the list ofFor the Love of Egypt candidatesare Mohamed Al-Orabi, a former foreign affairs minister; Osama Heikal, chairman of the Egyptian Media Production City (EMPC); Taher Abu Zeid, a former minister of sports;Kadri Abu Hussein, a former provincial governor andAhmed Zaki Badr, a former minister of higher education.
The list also includes oil business tycoon Akmal Qortam; electric cables tycoon Mohamed Zaki Al-Sewedi; automobile importer Mohamed Wagih; food industrialist Mohamed Farag Amer and Sahar Talaat Mustafa, the daughter of the construction tycoon and former NDP MP Talaat Mustafa who is in jail for the murder of a Lebanese singer in Dubai.
Mustafa Bakri, editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper Al-Osbou, and Al-Ahram political analyst Gad, are also included on the list, alongside Ahmed Said, chairman of an IT company and former head of the Free Egyptians Party,and Mahmoud Badr, the founder of the Tamarod movement which played a central role in ousting former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
Among the NDP officials and parliamentarians appearing on the list are Al-Sayed Mahmoud Al-Sherif, Al-Sayed Al-Moghazi, Salama Al-Roki, Mohamed Ahmed Al-Zeini,Omar Moselhi and Ahmed Raslan.
The list includes two Coptic women, Nadia Henri and Suzi Nashed.
Gad insists the coalition’s candidates come from all walks of life, including “some former NDP figures whohave not been convicted of any corruption charges and whoenjoy great popularity in the districts they represented”.
Gamal Zahran, a former independent MP and coordinator of the Social Justice electoral coalition, warnedon Sunday growing signs that the For the Love of Egypt enjoys government support could “cast doubt over the impartiality of state authorities, especially the security forces, during the vote”.
Minister of Justice Ahmed Al-Zend has vowed that the parliamentary elections will be marked by integrity and transparency.
The first stage of parliamentary elections is set to begin on 17 October and covers 14 governorates.