Several candidates fought with one another and security forces as they attempted to be among the first to register for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Following a delay of over a year, the High Elections Commission (HEC) issued the regulations for the parliamentary elections, which are scheduled to take place between September and December, during a press conference Sunday. The first two days of registration for candidates in the parliamentary elections were marked by fights among candidates, as well as reports that prominent figures from former President Hosni Mubarak’s era were using their money and influence to secure places for themselves.
Photos of clashes between police forces and candidates and among the candidates and each other filled the front pages of most of Egypt’s daily newspapers on Wednesday. These chaotic scenes were common throughout the country.
The privately owned Al-Tahrir newspaper reported clashes in the northern governorates of Gharbiya, Qalyubiya, and Kafr al-Sheikh, as well as Cairo and Giza. The newspaper referred to candidates beating each other and fighting over who would be able to apply first, as hundreds of potential candidates gathered in front of the designated registration facilities to finish their papers.
Al-Tahrir explained that lack of organization and overly-crowded spaces led to rising tension. Al-Badil newspaper also reported similar clashes in the northern governorate of Beheira, where candidates complained about unfair treatment as the registration process favored certain candidates over others.
Head of the HEC, Judge Ayman Abbas, announced that Egypt would have an elected parliament by the end of 2015. Abbas said that this election represents the country’s third and last stage of “the political road map” drawn by ruling authorities following former President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in July, 2013. HEC spokesperson Amr Marwan told privately owned Al-Masry al-Youm that 2,745 candidates registered on Tuesday alone.
Various newspapers reported that former members Mubarak’s dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP) and candidates from the Salafi Nour party dominated the registration process.
Al-Masry al-Youm reported that many prominent former NDP figures registered for the elections. These include former NDP parliamentarians Hussein Megawer and Haidar al-Boghdady, as well as Mubarak’s former Social Solidarity Minister Ali Meselhy in Sharqiya and businessman Magdy Ashour.
The Nour Party decided to make use of the party’s prominent religious clerics when campaigning for their candidates, including famous Salafi preacher Abu Ishaq al-Howeiny, according to al-Masry al-Youm. The report comes shortly after the Endowment Ministry banned imams in mosques from campaigning for the elections.
In an investigation by the privately owned Al-Watan on “political money threatening parliament elections,” the newspaper said that political party coalitions and even individual candidates are all controlled by businessmen, including Mubarak-era tycoons, Naguib Sawiris of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, Akmal Kortam of the Conservative Party and Sayed al-Badawy of the Wafd Party.
The investigation explained that many of the businessmen-owned political parties are working on attracting former NDP officials to join their ranks, due to their previous experience in winning elections through their influence and political networks. Al-Watan described the recent political maneuvering as a “market of buying parliament candidates”.
Many former NDP party members reportedly prefer running as independent candidates for individual seats, rather than joining party lists. Al-Watan interviewed former NDP member and current candidate Talaat al-Qawwas, who is running for an individual seat and representing Free Egyptians Party, who explained that many political parties thrive off former NDP members.
Other NDP front runners include Shahinaz al-Naggar, wife of Mubarak-era tycoon and leading former parliamentarian Ahmed Ezz. Hany Sorour, a former NDP business mogul who faced corruption accusations is also among the top candidates in the elections.