EGYPT: NDP dominates midterm elections, Muslim Brotherhood comes out empty-handed
Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party has won a majority of seats in the nation's upper house of Parliament, the Shura Council, in midterm elections held on Tuesday, the head of the Higher Electoral Committee announced at a news conference on Thursday.
The NDP secured 60 out of the 74 council seats. Four candidates from opposition parties El Ghad, El Geel, Al Tagamuu and Al Nassery managed to outmuscle the NDP nominees and secure the only opposition victories.
The biggest loser was Egypt's largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, whose 15 nominees failed to win a single seat despite the fact that their movement forms the largest opposition bloc in Egypt's more influential People's Assembly, with 88 seats.
The elections were marred by violence. A security source said a group supporting Mohamed Awad el Zayat, a Muslim Brotherhood member and independent candidate, fired gunshots in a district of in Beheira region "in order to intimidate voters" who might vote for other candidates. Three police officers were reported injured in the incident.
In northern Sinai, a number of Bedouins stormed into Wadi Omar district, broke ballot boxes and exchanged gunfire with police officers. The Bedouins were angry about authorities' detention of their fellow Bedouins on criminal charges right before the elections. Similar minor clashes occurred in the regions of Gharbeya and Dakahleya with no reported injuries.
An NDP statement later said that 150 supporters of NDP candidates were beaten and hit with stones by Brotherhood followers. But the Muslim Brotherhood countered with a statement accusing the regime of terrorizing their supporters before and during the voting.
In a news conference, Muslim Brotherhood official Essam Eryan said the elections showed the regime's "failure in its first test since its renewal of the emergency laws" last month.
Members of the politically banned Brotherhood run in parliamentary elections as independent candidates.
Established in 1980 by late President Anwar Sadat, the Shura Council reviews laws before the People's Assembly delivers a final vote on them. Its midterm elections take place every three years.
Shura Council elections have never been of great importance either to regular citizens or Egyptian politicians. Nonetheless, this year's elections were anticipated by many as an introduction to the upcoming People's Assembly elections this autumn and the presidential elections in 2011.
-- Amro Hassan in Cairo
Photo: An election worker with a ballot paper at a polling station. Credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh