Factbox: Egypt Completes First Round of Second Phase of Elections

Egypt held the second phase of its parliamentary elections in November 22 and 23. Candidates competed for 282 seats in the second phase of the parliamentary elections, including 222 individual seats and sixty party-based seats. Voting took place at 12,946 polling stations in thirteen governorates: Cairo, Qalyubia, Daqahlia, Menoufia, Gharbia, Kafr al-Sheikh, Sharqiya, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai, and South Sinai.

Runoffs are scheduled to take place abroad on November 30 and December 1 and in Egypt on December 1-2. The High Elections Committee (HEC) will announce the final results on December 4.


Turnout in the second round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections was low. The Maat Foundation estimated that turnout was about 32.5 percent. Turnout in the first round of the elections reached only 26 percent. On Sunday, Prime Minister Ismail Sherif announced a half day of work for public sector employees for the second day of voting, in an effort to boost turnout. Ismail also encouraged the private sector to take measures to “provide the necessary facilities” to allow employees to vote. Minister of Manpower Gamal Sorour also called on all workers to vote, describing it as a “national duty.” Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb specifically called on youth to participate in the elections, saying that boycotting was akin to “disobeying parents.” Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr also called on youth to participate in the vote.

The Arab League said it was satisfied with turnout on the first day of voting. “The turnout was higher than that of the first phase,” said Assistant Secretary-General of the Arab League and head of the mission to monitor the elections Haifa Abu Ghazaleh. Head of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights Nehad Aboul-Kamsan also said the turnout was higher than it was during the first round, and Cairo’s Deputy Governor for the Northern Area said that turnout was above average. The Cabinet operations room, tasked with overseeing the elections, also released a statement saying that turnout in the second phase was higher than the first.

However, Deutsche Welles reported one polling station supervisor as saying on Sunday that he had “hardly seen five voters” in roughly the first hour of voting. Ahram Online reported that turnout at many polling stations seemed to be below average as of midday on Sunday. News agency Al Masry Al Youm reported that turnout remained below average on Monday.

The HEC  again threatened to impose a EGP 500 fine on eligible voters who failed to vote. Similar announcements have been made during elections in Egypt in the past four years but have never been enforced. The electoral body said that about 28.2 million voters, almost one million more than during the first phase, were eligible to cast their ballots.

The HEC also said that the curfew In North Sinai, which is currently under a state of emergency, was reduced in order to allow voters to cast their ballots. HEC Spokesperson Omar Marwan said the curfew would be delayed from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm during voting and runoffs. A military statement on Friday said “psychological and moral work crews” were being deployed to raise voter awareness and participation.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi cast his ballot on Sunday in Heliopolis for two candidates and an electoral list competing in the elections. This marks the first time Sisi has voted in a parliamentary election, as members of the Egyptian Armed Forces are not permitted to vote. Former interim President Adly Mansour also voted on Sunday. He urged Egyptians to participate in the vote in order to “seal [Egypt’s] political roadmap.”

The Egyptian government also expressed discontent over satirical commentary from al-Arabiya Senior Anchor Nicole Tannoury. “Oh God make [the second phase of the elections] vibrant with voter turnout and do not let us down just like the first phase,” she said, referring to weak turnout in the first phase of the elections. “That was a farcical approach from a channel that is supposed to be professional,” said Assistant Prime Minister for Elections Refaat Qumsan.

Campaigning and Competition

Twenty-four hours of campaign silence began on Friday ahead of voting.

A report issued on Sunday by the Arab Union for Combatting Economic Crimes and Money Laundering found that approximately EGP 20 billion was spent on electoral campaigns ahead of the elections. According to the report, given Egypt’s electoral laws and the total number of candidates running for individual seats, the maximum amount that should have been spend for campaigning for individual seats in both rounds should have been EGP 2.7 billion.

Analysts agreed that Cairo, which is allocated the most independent seats,  was the most competitive governorate. Ahram Online reported that as many as 819 independent candidates competed to fill forty-nine individual seats. The Future of the Homeland Party (Mostaqbal Watan) ran fifteen candidates in Cairo, the Wafd Party ran seventeen, and the Nour Party ran ten. Former leading officials from former President Hosni Mubarak’s defunct ruling National Democratic Party also competed in Cairo.

This election also marks the first time that Ain Shams in the Cairo governorate will stand alone as a distinct electoral district. Many of the candidates in Ain Shams hailed from powerful, wealthy families, according to DNE.  

Voter Apathy

Apathy was reportedly widespread during the first round of the elections. On Sunday, Reuters reported that voters who abstained from voting on Sunday said they felt ‘little genuine choice” in the absence of the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition groups. Many voters said they felt that the makeup of parliament would have little impact on their lives.

“There is no reason to vote, these elections don’t mean anything. All these candidates are running so they can get [member of parliament] perks,” Hassan, a twenty-one year old student, told Reuters.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press said its reporters toured at least eighteen polling stations on Sunday and Monday and witnessed a slight increase in activity compared to the first round of voting in October. However, AP said that in some cases, campaigners and security force outnumbered voters outside polling stations in Cairo.

“If we were asking people to donate money, we would see longer lines than this,” twenty-two year old Yassin Hany told AP after he voted in Cairo’s Ain Shams district. “The government only pays attention to us when they want us to vote. We are only visible then.” Twenty year old Hagar similarly said, “ I didn’t want to vote. We know better than to expect something from the government. It’s all empty talk.”

A middle-aged government employee named Dalia told AP, “The government shouldn’t complain about the low turnout. Give us real politics, we give you real participation.” Campaigner Mohamed Zeinhom told AP in Cairo’s Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood that he didn’t see any youth come out to vote.

DNE reported that the candidates running in the second phase of the elections were unknown to many voters and that it was “hard to find a solid basis for voters’ opinion.” A middle-aged female voter in Zamalek said, “In these elections I do not know the candidates and I am not sure I trust them because my experience with previous parliaments is that politicians talk a lot and do little.”

DNE said voters spoke generally about issues of concern, including unemployment and poverty. However, no voters mentioned specific policies or ideologies driving their decisions.

Expatriates voting abroad also expressed disillusionment with the electoral process. “Parliamentary elections won’t have any significant effect on any issue in Egypt,” said twenty-four year old Injy Raafat in Melbourne, Australia. Thirty year old Heba Said in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) noted, “The elections experience here is bitter…no one contacted us from the embassy or gave us any information about the current elections.” Twenty-five year old Ahmed Abdallah, also in the UAE, said “I won’t participate in elections because I know that it’s not worth it.

Still, some voters said they voted in order to show solidarity with Sisi. “We’re with the president. We have hope because he’s…working, and we trust him,” a fifty year old engineer and mother of three Hala Shereef told AP. Another woman said said she voted because “one can only do his part and hope the government does its.”

Violations and Complaints

Sunday: The HEC said that more than 140 complaints were officially registered on Sunday. HEC Spokesperson Marwan said 93 complaints were related to the delayed opening of polling stations because replacement judges had to be found for six judges that were ill. In Menoufia, reporters told Mada Masr that judges arrived late at twelve polling stations, despite the fact that they were provided with transportation to the polls. Ahram Online reported that forty-one polling stations opened between one and two hours late on Sunday. Al-Ahram reported delays at thirty-five polling stations in Kafr al-Sheikh and North Sinai on Monday.

Other reported violations included the distribution of campaign materials outside polling stations and vote buying. In Dakahlia, Mada Masr reported that supporters of certain candidates were writing down candidate numbers and distributing them to voters. In Mansoura, children reportedly accompanied voters inside polling stations to ensure they selected particular candidates in exchange for money from the candidate’s supporters. The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) recorded instances of buying votes at EGP 500 per vote. HEC’s Marwan said that three people were arrested for vote buying.

Several organizations and political parties also observed violations, including the Maat Foundation, the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP), and the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP).

The NCHR said it recorded eighty-nine violations Sunday, mostly referring to late opening of polling stations and electoral bribes. The NCHR also reported that one voter in Gharbiya was mistakenly registered in the electoral database as deceased. Another candidate in al-Zawya al-Hamra submitted a complaint to the HEC after he also discovered he was registered as deceased.

Candidates also reportedly used microbuses to direct voters to certain polling stations and to campaign for candidates in several governorates including Helwan, Port Said, Menoufiya, and Sharqiya. The ESDP observed violations in the New Cairo constituency and in Boulaq Abul Elaa constituency of Cairo.

DNE reported that in North Sinai, supporters of candidate Suliman Amlut prevented supporters of candidate Abdallah Mohamed Salem from entering the station. Security forces had to intervene to resolve the issue.

Monday: The HEC said it received a total of 212 complaints on Monday and that twenty-four polling stations opened late. The Cairo Post reported that four judges were replaced on Monday after they were unable to open their designated polling stations because they refused to allow security forces to search their cars.

Also on Monday, candidate Tahani al-Gebaly of the Republican Alliance list accused candidates from the FLE list of treason for receiving funds from the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait. “We spotted members of the Brotherhood while voting for [FLE] on the first day of the second round [of the elections],” Gebaly said. She also accused the list of receiving funds from the United States and France. FLE candidate Osama Heikal called the accusation a defamation of character and said he would take Gebaly to court. On Tuesday, FLE leader Sameh Seif al-Yazal said Gebaly’s comments were a “failed attempt” to discredit the FLE in reaction to the Republican Alliance list’s poor performance at the polls. HEC’s Marwan said no official complaints had been filed with the HEC regarding Gebaly’s comments.

Meanwhile, the Nour Party blamed state tactics on Monday for its poor performance in the parliamentary elections. The party accused the government of arresting its members, orchestrating a media campaign against it, and curbing the party’s ability to campaign. “This result does not represent the true political or societal weight of Salafis in Egypt,” said prominent party leader Yasser Borhami. Interior Ministry Spokesman Major General Abu Bakr Abdel Karim dismissed the allegations. “Our role is complete security. We do not interfere in the electoral process. The Interior Ministry provides for the voting process’ electoral needs. We are completely neutral,” he said.

Security and Violence

The military said that more than 160,000 soldiers were deployed to work with the police to secure the second round of voting. The Interior Ministry deployed 30,000 officers and 200,000 policemen. The army said that personnel from the Third Field Army, the Egyptian Navy, the Air Force, and the Special Forces helped to secure the elections. Security forces were also posted along Egypt’s borders and the Suez Canal in case of possible attacks.

In addition, female police officers were deployed to some polling stations to search female voters and prevent sexual harassment.

Amid voting on Monday, an improvised explosives device (IED) killed a policeman and injured two conscripts in North Sinai’s Sheikh Zuweid. The IED exploded while a patrol vehicle was passing through the Abu-Taweel area.

On Tuesday, a series of attacks on the Swiss Inn hotel in al-Arish in the Sinai wounded eight people and killed six, including Judge Amr Hammad and Prosecutor Amr Mostafa  who were supervising the parliamentary elections, four security personnel, and a civilian. Sinai State, Egypt’s Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) affiliate, claimed responsibility for the attacks. The Egyptian military said three militants were involved in the attacks. A suicide bomber attempted to drive a vehicle into the hotel, according to a military statement released earlier on Tuesday. Another assailant, wearing an explosive vest, tried to blow himself up inside the hotel’s kitchen, but was killed by security forces. A third militant gained access to the hotel’s rooms and fired randomly at guests, killing the judge.

In other news, Youm7 reported that three voter deaths occurred during the second phase of the parliamentary elections. Fifty year old Hesham al-Adgham died in Daqahlia’s Koum al-Nour’s district when clashes erupted outside a polling station. On Sunday, the Health Ministry said that two voters died on the first day of voting.

Media Coverage and Violations against Journalists

On Sunday, Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate formed an operations room to monitor the electoral process. The operations room was set up to receive complaints and reports of violations “so that fellow journalists can report on any abuses they may face while covering the voting process,” Journalist Syndicate Secretary General Gamal Abdel Rahim said.

North Sinai-based journalist Ahmed Abu Deraa was arrested on Saturday before the start of voting while covering elections preparations at a polling station. According to sources in the governorate, Abu Deraa was at a polling station with other journalists and asked a military officer for permission to take photographs. After placing a phone call, the officer said he received orders to detain Abu Deraa, who was transferred to military detention. He was released on Monday after being detained for two days. Abu Deraa was previously arrested in September 2013 and referred to military court on charges of “deliberately spreading abroad false news, reports and rumors” about Egypt and military operations in Sinai.

Journalists Against Torture reported that security forces banned two journalists–Hassan Omar Hassanein of Vetogate and another journalist from the Heart of Egypt newspaper–from covering the first day of the elections. Police also arrested al-Tahrir news website photographer Abdel Gawwad Mohamed and Masr Al-Arabia reporter Mostafa Saadawi as they were covering voting in Helwan. Additionally, Mostafa Diab, a journalist who was photographing voting, was held for two-hours by police in Ismailia before being released. “I communicated with some Interior Ministry and Armed Forces leaderships…the problem was resolved and they apologized to me before handing me back my equipment,” Diab said.

The HEC also banned the privately-owned al-Faraeen, Sada al-Balad, and CBC channels from broadcasting anything related to the elections. The HEC released a statement through the Official Gazette on Saturday saying that the channels had broken several laws in their election coverage. On November 14, al-Masry al-Youm reported that the HEC was undertaking legal action against CBC and al-Faraeen, among other channels, for violating electoral silence during the first phase of voting. HEC member Ihab al-Sayad said the electoral body would file a report documenting the electoral violations of al-Faraeen host and candidate in Giza’s Talkha constituency Tawfik Okasha.


Prior to the start of voting, the joint local-international observer mission led by the Maat Foundation (which includes the Global Network for Rights and Development, the International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights, and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) held a press conference to outline concerns ahead of voting. Representatives from the mission also emphasized voting as “one the democratic tools to counter terrorism.”

On Sunday, following the close of the first day of voting, the Cabinet’s operations room, which was tasked with monitoring the voting process, said that the voting process was characterized by “organization and stability.”

The Arab League’s observer mission said that polling staff exhibited professionalism and knowledge of the electoral process and voting procedures. The NCHR’s special operations room said voting was occurred with efficiency and discipline, which helped to prevent overcrowding in polling stations.

Expat Voting

More expatriates turned out to vote in the second phase of the parliamentary elections than did during the first phase. On Saturday, over 20,000 voters turned out in 139 countries to cast their ballots, a Foreign Ministry official told Youm7 Sunday.  On Sunday, the last day of expat voting, Deputy Foreign Minister Hamdy Loza said the total number of expat votes had reached over 37,000, an increase of 22 percent from the first phase of voting. HEC’s Marwan stated in a press conference on Monday that this accounts for 5.5 percent of the population of expats eligible to vote, up from 4.5 percent in the first phase.

DNE reported close coordination between the Foreign Ministry and the HEC, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, and the Ministry of Planning in examining the electronic system through which Egyptian expats cast their ballots. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry gave directives to all diplomatic missions to coordinate with Egyptian communities abroad to inform them about procedures related to the voting process.

HEC’s Marwan stated in a press conference on Monday that the increased turnout in expat voters may have indicated a “surge” in the overall turnout of voters for the second phase. However, voting numbers in some countries with large Egyptian expat populations saw low turnout. Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that in the United States, turnout was as low as 0.5 percent, prompting the Egyptian Embassy and consulates around the country to take to social media to urge expats to vote. Marwan also stated during the press conference that voting ran smoothly in all embassies and consulates except for technical problems that occurred in the consulates located in Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh and Jeddah and the consulate in Amman, Jordan.

The Egyptian government also reached out to expats abroad through social media and official statements. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid, spokesman took to Twitter, urging Egyptians to vote, while the official Twitter account for the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, DC posted pictures of Egyptian Ambassador to the United States Yasser Reda voting casting his vote. The embassy tweeted a statement from the ambassador thanking those who participated in voting.

Preliminary Results

Preliminary results show that that FLE list is set to win all sixty party-based seats. FLE won fifteen seats in the East Delta constituency, as it ran uncontested, and is likely to win forty-five seats in Cairo, Middle, and South Delta constituencies. The Wafd Party won four party-based seats as part of the FLE list. The four candidates are Laila Ahmed Abo Ismail, Mohamed Selim, Elsayed Moussa, and Maha Shaaban. Two candidates from the Conference Party, Mady Morshed from Sharqiya and Nancy Samir from Suez, won seats as part of the FLE list. FLE secured all sixty party-based seats in the first round of the elections last month. “We are confident we will win,” FLE leader Seif al-Yazal said after the most recent round of voting.

Most constituencies will witness runoffs for individual-based seats on December 1-2. Talaat Sewedy was the only Wafd Party candidate to secure an individual seat in the second round of voting, in Sharqiya’s Diarb Negm constituency. The party will field forty-three candidates in the runoffs. Seven will compete in Sharqiya, seven in Qalyubia, seven in Daqahlia, six in Gharbiya, six in Cairo, four in Menoufia, one in Port Said, and one in South Sinai. Wafd’s Media Consultant Motaz Salah Eldin emphasized on Tuesday that votes are still being counted in some constituencies.

Fifty-two candidates from the Free Egyptian Party will participate in runoffs, according to the party’s Acting Chairman Essam Khalil. The party ran 110 candidates for individual seats and three candidates on the FLE list. Party Candidate Samy al-Mashad was the party’s only candidate to secure a seat in the second round ahead of the runoffs.

The Nour Party will compete in runoffs for up to ten individual seats in Kafr al-Sheikh, Damietta, and South Sinai, according to an official statement by the party. Five candidates from the Conference Party will compete in runoffs in Cairo, Qalyubiya, Ismailia, Sharqiya, and Daqahlia. Fifty candidates from the Future of the Nation Party will participate in the runoffs. The Republican People’s Party will field five candidates in the runoffs.

Other prominent successful candidates include Egyptian director Khaled Youssef, who won a individual seat in Qalyubia’s Kafr Shukr constituency. EOHR head and member of the Conservatives Party Hafez Abu Seada reportedly won the only individual seat in Cairo’s Maadi constituency.

Head of the Zamalek Football club Mortada Mansour, claims he secured 71,000 votes in Daqhalia’s Meet Ghamr constituency. Mansour’s son Ahmed Mortada Mansour won one of two seats in the runoff elections of the first phase of voting in the Dokki and Agouza constituency in Giza.

Meanwhile, two victorious candidates are facing trial for cases unrelated to the elections. Haitham Ezz al-Hariri, who won an individual seat in the Moharram Bek constituency of Alexandria in the first phase of the elections, is facing trial for a 2013 case accusing him of “disrupting public order” following clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Tamarod movement. Hariri, who was previously sentenced in absentia to three years in prison in the case, claimed not to have been directly involved in the incident. He appeared in court on Monday and said, “The court treated me as a parliamentary member without me having to ask for legal immunity.” He said the judge accepted his release on guarantees that he would attend trial sessions. The trial was postponed to February 24.

Renowned writer Fatima Naoot has been on trial for months on charges of religious contempt for a Facebook post. She is running in the second phase of the elections as a member of the Wafd Party for a seat in the Cairo constituency of al-Nozha and Heliopolis. According to the party’s report on initial results, Naoot won with 39,540 votes. Her trial has been postponed to December 8.

What Comes Next?

The new parliament is expected to hold its inaugural session in late December or early January. Elected members of parliament will attend an induction meeting in order to receive information about the technical services available to them, including first-class travel subscriptions with Egyptian airlines and railways, as well as free parking in the Tahrir car park.

They will also receive personalized smart cards, which will be used with a newly-introduced electronic voting system. The system will be tested by the parliament during a simulated parliamentary session that will familiarize the parliamentarians with the new voting process.

Elissa Miller is a Program Assistant the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. Brandan Martini is an intern at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.