CAIRO: Nationwide elections for representatives to Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) Saturday sparked speculations of potential change in the party’s power structure and the adoption of more democratic policies.
Elections were held in 430 of Egypt’s 7,555 electoral units, and were marked by high voter turnout and strong competition between candidates, according to media reports.
Each electoral unit chose 20 representatives, who will serve in the NDP’s central administration. The elections will continue in the rest of the electoral districts until Sept. 10.
NDP Member of Parliament, Mohammad Khalil Kwaitah, told Daily News Egypt that “the elections are being held in order to increase democracy inside the NDP itself and to set an example for other organizations so they can work and live in a democratic way.
He said that the NDP was making an effort to reach out to citizens and allow them to have their voices heard in government. “The main role of the elected individuals will be to reach out to the people and let their voices be heard, to solve problems in a democratic manner.
He also confirmed that of the 20 representatives designated to each electoral district, two seats are set aside for women and two seats for individuals under the age of 25.
Many NDP members were hopeful that these elections would rejuvenate the party and inject new ideas into its governing ideology. There were also hopes that it would broaden the NDP’s base of support by including more Egyptians in an open democratic process.
In an interview with the Egyptian Gazette, NDP MP Mohamad Abdullah said that “as the NDP undergoes constant development, these elections will be a manifestation of the party’s dynamism and keenness to bring new faces in order to quicken the pace of the march to democracy.
The elections were conducted using transparent ballot boxes and phosphoric ink, to ensure the impartiality of the results.
However, there was deep skepticism among opposition parties and political analysts as to whether these elections would herald any change in policy from the NDP.
“The elections are just a ploy from the leader of the regime to represent themselves as reformists, Nabil Abdel Fattah, the Deputy Head of the Al Ahram Research Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Daily News Egypt. “They are no indication of any serious change. This is simply an example of the same ruling leaders reproducing themselves within the party.
Opposition party leaders echoed Abdel Fattah’s doubts.
“The results of the elections are irrelevant. Deputy Leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Habib, told Daily News Egypt. “This has nothing to do with democracy and won’t change anything. The NDP is completely against democracy as is evident by the elections that they have blatantly rigged in the past.
The internal elections are being held ahead of the party’s ninth congress, which is scheduled to take place in early November.