Middle East
Ruling party sweeps Egypt's vote
Results indicate ruling party takes 80 per cent of parliament seats, which the opposition parties denounce as rigged.
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2010 02:44 GMT
Many opposition supporters called for fresh elections in the wake of vote irregularities [AFP]

The Egyptian ruling party has swept to a predictably huge win in a parliamentary election that the opposition denounced as rigged, Egypt's high elections commission has said.

Monday's result has shown that Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) secured about 80 per cent of seats, based on final figures released by the elections commission, compared with about 70 per cent in the last parliament.

"The 2010 parliament is certainly the most illegitimate in recent Egyptian history and no one can take it seriously," said analyst Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Centre.

Of 508 seats being contested, the NDP won 420, while 70 went to independent candidates and 14 to other political parties.

Results of the other four seats were not announced due to violations during the voting process, according to a commission official.

Parliament has a total of 518 members, of whom 10 are appointed by the president.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which controlled a fifth of seats in the outgoing parliament, boycotted Sunday's second round after winning no seats in the first stage a week earlier.

The second biggest opposition group in the last parliament, the liberal Wafd party, also withdrew.

Low turnout

The elections commission said the turnout was 35 per cent in the first round and 27 per cent in the second, while rights groups put it at just 10 and 5 per cent respectively.

The opposition and independent monitors said both rounds saw ballot box stuffing, voter intimidation and other abuses.

Officials said the process was fair, adding that complaints would be checked but did not undermine the overall vote.

Analysts believe the government wanted to rid parliament of its most vocal critics to ensure a trouble-free presidential election in 2011.

Mubarak, 82, has not announced if he will seek re-election and has no obvious successor.
Many Egyptians believe his son Gamal, 46, will run if Mubarak, whose health has been under close scrutiny since he underwent gallbladder surgery in March, is unable to do so.

But analysts question whether Gamal has the popularity among the masses or the military support to take over.

Lack of genuine opposition

Hamid said most of the non-NDP seats would be taken by independents with links to the ruling party, and the genuine opposition was unlikely to take more than 1 per cent of seats.

The leftist Tagammu party will be the biggest opposition bloc in the new 518-seat assembly with five seats. Wafd won six seats but the party's status remains unclear as it has announced a boycott, indicating that its successful candidates will have to choose between staying in the party or parliament.

"The elections were full of widespread violations that brought Egypt at least 15 years back," said Egypt's Independent Coalition for Elections' Observation.

It said Mubarak should dissolve the new parliament and call fresh elections overseen by an independent judicial body to ensure minimum standards of transparency and fairness.

Although banned by a rule that outlaws religious parties, the Muslim Brotherhood fields candidates as independents. It said none of its candidates stood in the runoffs because of the boycott, although 26 had made it through the first round.

Despite the boycott, the state-run al-Ahram newspaper said one of the 26, Magdy Ashour, had won in a Cairo district. The Brotherhood denied he was standing.

"He has stuck by the Brotherhood's decision to boycott the second round of the elections which were rigged. We know nothing further," Brotherhood member Mohamed Mursi said.

Rights groups Amnesty International said as many as eight people died in election-related violence. A High Elections Commission official said there were four election-related deaths after the first round but no one died on the two voting days.

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