Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-10-04 10:12:50
In a statement on Egypt's upcoming parliamentary elections on 16 September, the Higher Elections Committee (HEC) in charge of supervising the polls announced that a total of 5,955 individuals had applied to run in the polls. One day later, however, the committee said the applications of as many as 535 individuals had been rejected, thus lowering the number of independent candidates to 5,420.
Even though some of the rejected individuals whose appeals were accepted were allowed by judicial authorities to re-join the election race, and even as the number of party-based candidates stands at around 600, political analysts agree the total number of candidates seeking to contest the coming polls is still low compared to previous polls.
According to Wahid Abdel-Meguid, editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram's International Politics magazine and a political analyst, the above figures show that the number of candidates contesting Egypt's coming parliamentary elections will be relatively few. "We expected that a record number of candidates would contest the coming polls given the fact that the number of parliamentary seats has greatly increased. But this has not happened," said Abdel-Meguid.
Abdel-Meguid told Ahram Online that even if the candidates running on party lists — around 600 — in the two-stage elections were added, the total number of candidates would still remain low. "The total number of candidates, including independents and party-based candidates alike, is not expected to exceed 6,000, and this remains lower than the numbers in previous elections," he said.
Abdel Meguid explained that ten years ago — in 2005 — the number elected parliamentary seats was a total of 444 while the number of individual candidates stood as high as 5,177. "But while the number of elected seats in 2015 increased by 124 (up to 568), the number of candidates stood at just 5,420," he said, adding that "An increase by 124 seats should have meant that the number of total candidates increase by at least 2,000, to be more than 7,000."
"It is surprising that although the seats increased by 124, the number of candidates rose by around 350," said Abdel-Meguid.
More surprising still, Abdel-Meguid said, is that in 2011, when parliamentary elections were held for the first time after the removal of former president Hosni Mubarak, the total number of candidates skyrocketed to 10,251 candidates, including independent and party-based runners. "This was an unprecedented figure, although the number of contested seats in these polls stood at just 498 — 70 seats less than the current number," he said.
Abdel-Meguid believes that the above figures show clearly that the number of parliamentary candidates had been steadily increasing over the last 10 years. "You had 5,177 candidates and 444 contested seats in 2005; 5,411 candidates and 508 contested seats in 2010; and 10,251 candidates and 498 contested seats in 2012. Based on the above figures, and on the fact that seats increased by 120 and that parliament gained greater powers vis-à-vis the president, it was supposed that the number of candidates would continue increasing to hit a new record."
Concurring, Amr Hashem Rabie, an Al-Ahram political and parliamentary analyst, said: "The increase in total number of parliament's seats and in parliamentary powers should have encouraged more to run in the polls. But what we saw was a decrease."
But while Rabie believes that the lengthy, costly and cumbersome registration process this year might have dissuaded many from joining the polls, Abdel-Meguid believes that political reasons are to blame.
Rabie noted: "Hopeful candidates were required to pay a lot of money in medical test expenses (LE2,850) and insurance (around LE10,000), not to mention that campaigning in a time with high inflation rates was beyond the financial capacity of many activists in most political parties." More»