Elections countdown: 35 days

The window for nomination submissions for Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections closed on Saturday.

The High Elections Commission (HEC) announced late on Saturday night that nearly 6,000 candidates had submitted their individual (non-party, non-coalition) nominations for 448 parliamentary seats between September 1 and 12.

The HEC issued a press statement on its official website on Saturday, announcing that 899 nominees submitted their papers on the last day alone, raising the total number of nominations to 5,936.

Another 12 party and coalition lists were submitted nationwide in competition for 120 seats.

The HEC announced that it would reveal the final list of eligible candidates and coalition lists — running for a total of 568 electable seats — on September 16. A further 28 members out of the 596-member parliament will be appointed by presidential decree.

September 12 was the last day for parliamentary nominations, both for individual candidates, coalitions and party nominations, with the exception of two electoral circuits in the Upper Egyptian Governorate of Qena — specifically the constituencies of Qous and Qena City, for which extensions have been granted until September 15.

This is in light of a verdict issued by the Administrative Court, which found an executive decree regulating the distribution of circuits in the governorate to be legally flawed.

Earlier this month, the HEC announced that the upcoming parliamentary elections would be held in two stages: the first including 14 governorates, to be held in October, and the second, including 13 governorates, to be held in November and early December.

The new parliament is due to be sworn in, December.

The HEC has the responsibility of selecting the electoral symbols for both the individual candidates and the party and coalition lists.

Among the most prominent of the electoral lists is the For the Love of Egypt bloc, informally known as the “State List,” due to its outspoken support for Sisi’s government, and the conservative Salafi Nour Party.

For the Love of Egypt is running in all four areas — Cairo, Upper Egypt, the Eastern Nile Delta, and the Western Nile Delta, according to the HEC. The Nour Party is running in two of the four.

Several news outlets reported on Sunday that For the Love of Egypt had won the parliamentary elections by default in the Eastern Nile Delta, as there is no other party or coalition list to challenge them.

However, Saber Ammar, a member of the Supreme Committee for Legislative Reform denied that the list has won by default. Ammar explained that, legally, they need to get 5 percent of the total votes in the East Nile Delta zone before they are announced the winners.

Other mixed coalitions running are: The Egyptian Front and Independence Current Coalition, Call of Egypt and Knights of Egypt.

Several members of Hosni Mubarak’s old guard have nominated themselves for individual seats, the most prominent of whom are: Steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz, who was a leading figure in Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP), and Ezz’s wife, Safinaz al-Naggar, also a former NDP member.

Other ex-NDP parliamentarians who nominated themselves include: Ali Messelhy (Mubarak’s former Social Solidarity Minister), Hussein Megawer (former president of the state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation), Talaat al-Qawwas, Haidar al-Boghdady, and business moguls Hani Sorour and Magdy Ashour.

Medical testing of nominees

The HEC began the process of medical checkups for several thousand candidates after nominations closed on Saturday.

Medical statements will be submitted to election officials between September 13 and 15, with the results announced publicly on September 16, along with the start of the appeals process for nominees with grievances.

The privately owned Youm7 newspaper reported on Sunday that the medical results for parliamentary nominees have already revealed that several of them tested positively for illicit drug use, including opiates, the synthetic opiate pill Tramadol, and hashish. Those who test positively for illegal drugs are typically disqualified from running.

Youm7 reported that four parliamentary nominees from the Nile Delta governorate of Damietta have submitted judicial appeals against their disqualification, after they tested positive for Tramadol use, as these pills are sometimes prescribed as painkillers.

Another eight parliamentary nominees from the Nile Delta governorate of Daqhaliya were disqualified after positive results in their drug tests. Seven more potential candidates were reportedly disqualified in the Mediterranean governorate of Alexandria — six for testing positive for drug use, and a seventh, who reportedly has mental health issues.

In an interview on Sunday with Kalam al-Garayed talkshow, broadcast on the privately owned Al-Assema Channel, Refaat al-Saeed, former head of the centrist Tagammu Party and a former member of parliament, claimed that some parliamentarians used to pay for special membership at the “pharmacy of the people’s assembly,” in order to purchase viagra pills, toilet paper, and perfume for their wives at discounted prices. He claimed that he didn’t have such membership himself.