CAIRO: A recent report pointed to a power struggle inside the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) over nominations for the upcoming People’s Assembly (PA) elections taking place this November.
The “First Report on Legislative Elections in 2010,” released Sunday, has been jointly prepared by the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement, Nara for Feminist Studies and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.
The 40-page report identified a struggle between the ruling party’s “old guard” and “new guard” stemming from various members’ recent decisions to challenge the NDP and run for the polls without the party’s support.
The report also suggested that most NDP members consider being nominated by the party an early announcement of their victory.
“A total of 650 monitors inspected 33 constituencies over 15 days to reach the conclusions included in the report,” says Ahmed Fawzy, a lawyer, researcher, and the director of the Democracy Development Program at the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement. “The monitors were divided over several teams, including a legal group, a political group and field monitors.”
The election monitors witnessed candidates from every political party conducting promotional activities before any presidential decree setting the election date — and thereby allowing nomination, the report added.
By doing so, these would-be candidates violated a warning made by the Supreme Electoral Commission.
Monitors also witnessed a misuse of power by certain ministers in several highly contended constituencies.
Minister of State for Military Production Sayed Mesha’al held a number of electoral conferences while he was assigning the board chairmen (and several other senior employees) of various military production factories to work on his promotional campaign.
In the Sohag governorate, Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Nasr Eddin promised the voters of the Jauhayna constituency that he would establish LE 60 million worth of service projects to be implemented by governmental entities.
Not only did NDP nominees break the rules, candidates from the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) committed similar violations as well.
A number of MB candidates, the report noted, made use of Eid Al-Fitr as a religious occasion and distributed gifts among voters in Alexandria. The gifts included free Umrah and Hajj trips.
The report even highlighted a humorous situation where a Christian Alexandrian citizen won an Umrah trip from the MB by mistake, and transferred the gift to a Muslim.
The report also analyzed the use of religious slogans, whether Islamic or Christian, in promotional campaigns. It warned against the escalation of a sectarian advocacy that has recently appeared.
The prevailing culture of religious discrimination, the report said, indicates that votes will be distributed on a religious basis, which makes the elections depend on sectarian views rather than on the candidates’ merits and campaign proposals.
The report criticized the legislations that regulate the electoral process. According to the report, elections are regulated by more than one law, which causes conflicts; especially when more than one entity is already in charge of running elections.
Election laws give executive members the right to issue decrees that are as authoritative as laws without first referring to the legislative council or the electoral commission.
For example, the interior minister issued decree no. 1340 for 2010 which imposes certain rules that will affect candidates’ elections, such as a rule dictating a voter must present a copy of his or her father’s ID to verity that s/he is born to an Egyptian father.
The decree further controls how a candidate registers. Though candidate registration is mainly completed through a representative, the police directorate chief has been given the authority to approve or disapprove of the legitimacy of the delegate.
“Such a law allows the interior ministry to interfere in and control the electoral process, which [leads to] a state of political bias for the NDP candidates,” says Fawzy.
Fawzy is not optimistic about the coming PA elections.
“The general atmosphere suggests that the elections will not be run transparently or fairly,” says Fawzy.
“The political scene is unstable, especially with… concerns about the coming presidential elections and…whether President Hosni Mubarak will run for the polls… and who will succeed him.”