CAIRO: Preliminary results from Wednesday’s third-round run-off election for the People’s Assembly will bring the banned Muslim Brotherhood an additional 12 seats, according to estimates released by the group, earning them a total 88 places in the 454-member parliament. President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) walked away with a total 333 seats, or 73 percent, ensuring the two-thirds majority the party had vowed to win.
With eight deaths reported during the final run-off alone, red flags have been raised at home and abroad regarding the security and legitimacy of Egypt’s electoral system. Now that the process of seating Egypt’s new parliament is over, attention is now turning to reform, with all parties involved acknowledging the process – in one way or another – is greatly flawed and in need of change.
“We thought the process was fine, and we will continue to have the majority in the parliament, said policies secretariat and NDP campaign spokesman Mohamed Kamal, adding he could not confirm preliminary results. “Unfortunately, violence has become part of the election culture in Egypt.
The framework of the election process will be assessed and if there is need for legislative amendments, then this will be a priority of the NDP in the next parliament.
Statements from the Ministry of Interior Wednesday evening regarding the final run-off did not acknowledge the widespread violence in opposition strongholds which, in many cases, caused districts to shut down polling stations, be it temporarily or permanently. Rather, spokesman Ibrahim Hammad called the proceedings normal, commending security forces for keeping the peace.
“This in itself is very disgusting, said Amr Darrag, a vice chair for Cairo University’s Staff Association and a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood. “The whole world is watching. The independent newspapers here in Egypt are publishing everything in full detail. Everyone saw what happened either on satellite or independent newspapers. They know they are lying but still they are doing it. “The 2005 elections prove that the current [government] is unable and unfit to carry out political reform, explained Gasser Abdel-Razek, a human rights activist in Cairo. “All the campaign promises made by Mubarak during the presidential race were in vain.
The events surrounding Egypt’s parliamentary elections have raised eyebrows abroad as well. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice earlier this week, Human Rights Watch criticized the State Department’s comments that the administration is “sure the Egyptian government wants “an environment where everybody can express their peaceful free will through the ballot box.
On Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli responded to the letter, saying, “We’ve seen a number of developments over the past couple weeks during the parliamentary elections that raise serious concerns about the path of political reform in Egypt.
In the end, despite their clashes with the police, the Muslim Brotherhood walked away with a record number of seats. While they are far from occupying the majority, their gains over the last month have given the Islamic group an opportunity to flex their muscle, if only a little bit. NDP officials acknowledge this, saying they are eager to work with the Muslim Brotherhood and hope the two parties can find some common ground in reforming the nation.
“We will engage with the opposition with all the reform agenda, said Kamal.
“The fact that the Brotherhood will be in parliament will force them to come up with something useful beyond just a religious slogan,something concrete. We hope we will moderate and modernize their views.
“The number is good but the events that took place are miserable, added Darrag. “It’s not a matter of how many seats we got, it’s a matter of the approach that has been adopted by the government is terrible. Regardless of the number of seats we got, it’s the way the matters were handled and the way the people were presented, having to climb on ladders to get into the polling stations. This is what they call democracy.