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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 15:58 GMT
Guide to Egypt's election
Gamal Mubarak, son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
The president's son Gamal Mubarak wants to modernise the ruling party

Egyptians begin voting on Wednesday in a three-stage election to the People's Assembly, parliament's lower house. The vote comes two months after the country's first ever multi-candidate presidential election, won by veteran incumbent Hosni Mubarak.

The opposition is out in force, with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood contesting seats as independents. Religious groups are officially barred from politics. The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) has over 400 seats in the current parliament, while the opposition has about 30.

PROCEEDURE

Of the 454 seats, 10 are appointed by presidential decree and 444 are elected.

There are 222 constituencies, with each returning two MPs in two categories: "workers and farmers" (the Constitution says these must account for at least half of deputies), and "professionals".

The winner in each category is decided on a first-past-the-post basis. To win outright, a candidate must get over 50% of the vote. Otherwise the top two battle it out in a second round.

TIMETABLE

  • Stage one on 9 November in eight governorates including Cairo (run-off on 15 November)
  • Stage two on 20 November in nine governorates (run-off 26 November)
  • Stage three on 1 December in a further nine (run-off 7 December).

    Elections are held every five years. Egyptians over 18 years of age are obliged by law to vote.

    LOGISTICS

    There are over 32 million registered voters out of an estimated population of 74.9 million.

    PARTIES IN CURRENT PARLIAMENT
    National Democratic Party
    New Wafd Party
    Al-Tajammu Party
    Socialist Liberal Party
    Nasirite Party
    Al-Ghad Party
    Muslim Brotherhood (as independents)
    Independents

    The campaign runs from 27 October, when the final candidate list was published, till the day before polling day.

    The Parliamentary Election Commission, chaired by the justice minister, sets the election rules and oversees the whole process.

    It set a campaign spending limit of 70,000 Egyptian pounds (about $12,150) per candidate.

    But a report by the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights says that the spending of some candidates reached 3-5 million Egyptian pounds.

    This is the first time transparent ballot boxes are being used in Egypt to prevent election fraud.

    CANDIDATES AND PARTIES

    In stage one, over 1,500 candidates are contesting 164 seats in 82 constituencies.

    The total number of candidates exceeds 5,000 and comprises 444 from the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), about 700 from opposition forces and about 4,000 independents.

    PARTIES FIELDING CANDIDATES
    National Democratic Party
    National Front for Change (includes New Wafd, Nasirite, Al-Tajammu, Kifaya)
    Muslim Brotherhood (as independents)
    Al-Ghad Party
    Socialist Liberal Party
    Social Solidarity Party
    Misr (Egypt) 2000 Party
    Green Party
    Free Social Constitutional Party
    Democratic Union Party
    Socialist Arab Egypt Party
    National Reconciliation Party
    Al-Jil (Generation) Party
    Independents
    The president's son, Gamal Mubarak, wants to modernise the NDP by replacing a third of its existing MPs. An estimated 2,000 NDP dissidents are running as independents.

    The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has a list of over 150 independent candidates. Reports say the group has decided not to field candidates in some of the constituencies where senior government officials are standing, in order to maintain good relations.

    An opposition alliance called the National Front for Change, comprising 12 political groups, has announced a list of 225 candidates.

    The Front includes three of the opposition parties already represented in parliament: the New Wafd Party, the Nasirite Party and al-Tajammu.

    Another key opposition party, al-Ghad, whose candidate Ayman Nur came second to Hosni Mubarak in the presidential election, is struggling after a rift between Mr Nur and a rival, Musa Mustafa Musa.

    CONTROVERSY

    The Muslim Brotherhood slogan "Islam is the solution" has sparked controversy among many politicians, who say it is unconstitutional as it mixes politics and religion.

    This is the first time the movement's candidates have presented themselves on election posters and banners as Muslim Brotherhood candidates.

    Brotherhood sources say that the security services have put pressure on its candidates not to mention the group's name or its slogan.

    Government officials as well as many intellectuals have criticised the group for exploiting religion to gain voter sympathy.

    But the MB leadership says that the slogan reflects the nation's identity. Another MB slogan is: "Together for reform".

    MEDIA

    On 27 October the Information Ministry launched a new TV channel called "Parliament Channel" to cover the elections.

    Observers say the state-owned media have been offering relatively balanced coverage.

    However, one independent weekly reported that the prime minister had instructed state-owned newspapers to ignore Muslim Brotherhood candidates, a claim the prime minister denies.

    The Muslim Brotherhood has launched campaign radio casts on its website.

    MONITORING

    Despite lobbying by US and other western officials, international monitors have not been invited.

    Egypt's constitution says the judiciary should supervise the elections, but does not make clear the extent or nature of this supervision.

    A landmark court ruling on 6 November gave Egyptian NGOs the right to monitor voting directly, both inside and outside polling stations.

    They had brought the case after the election commission earlier said they could just "follow" - rather than "monitor" - the process.

    BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.




  • SEE ALSO
    The media in Egypt
    02 Sep 05 |  Middle East
    Egypt mixes politics and religion
    03 Nov 05 |  Middle East
    Egypt ruling party seeks new MPs
    14 Oct 05 |  Middle East
    Egypt may allow first Islamist party
    06 Oct 05 |  Middle East
    Egypt's Mubarak is sworn in again
    27 Sep 05 |  Middle East

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