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Egyptian woman walks by campaign posters

Despite anecdotal reports of massive female turnout in Cairo and other governorates, women may very well be the biggest losers of Egypt’s first free and fair elections.  Although 376 female candidates are running for parliament, not a single woman was elected in the first stage of voting on November 28-29. And there is good reason to believe that women will fare just as poorly in subsequent rounds of voting.  The second and third stages of elections will include Egypt’s most rural and conservative districts where gender biases are more deeply ingrained than the urban centers – Cairo, Alexandria, and Port Said – that voted this week. Faced with the very real possibility of an exclusively male parliament, many Egyptians are wondering: Were women left behind by the Revolution?

Female candidates already face an uphill battle in overcoming sexist attitudes on the campaign trail, but to make matters worse, structural features of the new electoral system have stacked the odds against women.  Amendments to the electoral law introduced in October replaced the 64-seat quota for female parliamentary representatives – enacted by the former regime – with the requirement that each party’s candidate list include at least one woman.  At face value, this condition looks like a step toward leveling the playing field. But in reality, forcing parties to nominate women has done no favors for female candidates.  Parties have dealt with the gender requirement by relegating women to the least desirable slots at the bottom of their candidate lists. As one female candidate, Suheir al-Matanin described the problem, “Women are just there for decoration.” Under the proportional representation system, seats are allocated to candidates according to their relative position on a party’s list. In most cases, only the first two or three names on a list have a reasonable chance of winning seats, so if every party places its female candidates near the bottom, Egypt’s next parliament is virtually guaranteed to be free of women. 

The SCAF could of course remedy the blatant gender imbalance in a backhanded way, by packing the ten seats reserved for government appointees with women and Coptic Christians, a favorite tactic of the former regime to artificially inflate the parliamentary representation of minorities.

In light of the landslide victory by Islamist parties this week, some Egyptians are concerned that a parliament dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis could reverse progress on women’s rights. Farkhonda Hassan, secretary-general of the National Council for Women (NCW), warned that the underrepresentation of women in the next parliament could set Egypt “a dozen steps back.” “If Islamists come to power, I expect that they will strip women of the achievements they made throughout the previous years,” Hassan predicted. When Salafi parties were required to include women on their candidate lists, they made sure that the candidates’ faces were replaced with flowers on campaign propaganda, because displaying photos of women in public was deemed inappropriate.  If the Salafis are already censoring posters, their parliamentarians aren’t likely to look favorably on the participation of women in public and political life.

Mara Revkin is the assistant director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and editor of EgyptSource. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Photo Credit: AFP

 

 

Voting in the runoff round on December 5

Run-off voting is in progress today, as candidates compete for 52 seats that were not decided in the initial round of voting on December 28-29, in which only 4 candidates won decisive victories. Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri reportedly reconsidered some of his cabinet nominees over the weekend, after several proposed appointments were rejected by the public over their ties to the former regime. 

ELECTIONS:

1) The High Electoral Commission announced official results for the first round of voting on December 4. The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) led the polls with 36.6 percent of the vote; the Salafi Nour Party came in second with 24.4 percent of the vote, followed by the Egyptian Bloc with 13.4 percent. The liberal Wafd Party won 7.1 percent and the moderate Islamist Wasat Party won 4.3 percent.  Figures for the 28 largest parties competing in the elections are available here. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 12/5/2011] [Haaertz, English, 12/5/2011]

2) Run-off voting is in progress today for races in which no candidate won at least 50 percent of the vote, or voters failed to elect a farmer or a worker in the first round.  The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) announced that it has 46 candidates competing in the runoff round, compared to 56 in the first round. FJP candidates are competing directly with rivals from the Salafi Nour Party, and tensions between the two leading Islamist parties have escalated dramatically in the days leading up to the run-off round. On December 4, al-Nour leader Emad Abdel-Ghafour ruled out cooperation with the FJP, saying that the Salafi party had no intention of becoming a “follower to any other political force. “We have nothing to do with the Brotherhood, we have our own view,” Abdel-Ghafour said. During voting on December 5, altercations broke out between candidate representatives of the two parties who accused one another of distributing campaign propaganda inside polling stations in Matreya and other districts. [al-Ahram, English, 12/5/2011] [al-Ahram, English, 12/5/2011] [al-Ahram, English, 12/5/2011] [al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 12/5/2011]

3) An Egyptian human rights group, One World Foundation, reported lower-than-expected turnout and a range of violations, including harassment of monitors and exclusion from polling stations by military personnel, delays in the opening of polling stations, and unlawful campaign activities by party representatives. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 12/5/2011] [al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 12/5/2011]

4) Candidates from the liberal-oriented Egyptian Bloc are resorting to using religious campaign propaganda to compete with opponents from the Freedom and Justice Party. Egyptian Bloc candidates were distributing leaflets citing their piety and support for religious activities such as building mosques. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 12/5/2011]

5) Mohamed ElBaradei said that Egypt’s liberal revolutionary youth had been “decimated” in the first round of parliamentary elections and expressed concern about the rise of hardline Islamist elements. “The youth feel let down. They don't feel that any of the revolution's goals have been achieved,” ElBaradei said, noting that activist movements failed to unify in “one essential critical mass.” [AP, English, 11/4/2011]

NEW CABINET:

6) Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri reportedly reconsidered some of his cabinet nominees over the weekend, after several proposed appointments were rejected by the public over their ties to the former regime. Ganzouri is expected to retain at least ten ministers from Sharaf’s government, including two holdovers from the Mubarak regime, International Cooperation Minister Fayza Abu El-Naga and Electricity Minister Hassan Younis. On December 5, Ganzouri announced that he had filled crucial post of Interior Minister, after several nominees declined the position, but said he would not announce the minister’s name until shortly before the swearing in ceremony, “for reasons of public interst.” The SCAF is expected to swear in the new cabinet by the end of this week. [al-Ahram, English, 12/5/2011] [al-Shorouk, Arabic, 12/5/2011]

7) SCAF Chief of Staff Sami Anan met with on December 4 with representatives of political forces to discuss the framework of the recently proposed Cabinet advisory board, which will include political leaders, presidential candidates, and public figures. The 30-member advisory board would assist the SCAF in administering the remainder of the interim period and facilitate communication between the military, the cabinet, and the public. The SCAF is expected to form the advisory board shortly after the run-off round of voting on December 5. [al-Ahram, English, 12/5/2011]

CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM:

8) The government will soon amend Article 56 of the Interim Constitution, which relates to the SCAF's powers, according to Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri. Paragraph 10 of the Article 56 states that the military council has the "other powers and jurisdictions accorded to the president in conformance with the law and regulations." This article also grants the SCAF the authority to issue or reject laws, appoint or dismiss ministers, and appoint MPs. The amendments are expected to include language delegating presidential powers to the prime minister, with the exception of authority over the judiciary and the armed forces. Ganzouri said that the constitutional revisions would be made before the swearing in of his new cabinet, postponed until the end of this week. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 12/5/2011]

9) Following the Islamist victory in the first round of elections, the Muslim Brotherhood’s secretary general Mahmoud Hussein pronounced the supra-constitutional principles proposed in November by Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmy to have “died” with the resignation of Essam Sharaf’s government, warning that anyone who tries to revive the draft document “would die with them.” [al-Ahram, English, 12/5/2011]

Photo Credit: Christian Science Monitor

December 2 protest in Tahrir

"If I see another protester, I swear I'd spit on him," said the exasperated taxi driver, observing a rally to commemorate the martyrs of the revolution in Tahrir Square on December 2.

"Would you spit on someone whose brother, sister, or father died while fighting for your rights?" replied my brother, as he rode to Tahrir Square.

The sentiment on the streets of Cairo has increasingly turned against the revolutionaries in Tahrir square. Faced with a lack of public support, depleting personal funds, and smaller turnouts since the start of the election period, protesters have suffered a slow and steady decline in morale. Today's "million man march" hoped to revive the enthusiasm for the protesters' demands, including the immediate transfer of executive authority to a civilian body and accountability for those responsible for the deaths of demonstrators in this latest round of public upheaval.

At the Mostafa Mahmoud mosque in the Mohandeseen neighborhood of Cairo, two hundred protesters gathered after Friday prayers carrying 15 coffins draped in the Egyptian flag with names and pictures of those who had died since the beginning of the second wave of the revolution. They chanted slogans against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and tore down campaign posters as they marched through the streets. By the time they reached Tahrir, their numbers exceeded a thousand. The march joined other protests taking place in the square before continuing to the parliament building where the coffins were laid at the gates.

Despite the excitement it stirred, the symbolic funeral procession did not attract as many protesters to Tahrir as it may have done in previous weeks. With the focus of the country on the results of the current election round and the announcement of a new salvation government, fewer Egyptians feel the need to protest and hope elected officials will solve their problems. One weary April 6th Movement organizer expressed dismay at the public's indifference to basic demands such as a rejection of the super constitutional exceptions for the military. He expected a meeting of organizers to discuss whether or not to continue the sit-in in Tahrir.

Although this second uprising appears to be taking its final breath, the SCAF and the new government cannot ignore the ability of the people to mobilize once again should an outbreak of violence or blatant violations of human rights recur. The protesters, clearly tired from their three week ordeal, have all reiterated their readiness to return if the need arises. It seems, at least for the moment, the battle will continue in the political arena.

Tarek Radwan is an Egyptian human rights activist specializing in international law and conflict resolution. He has worked for Human Rights Watch's MENA division and the United Nations mission (UNAMID) in Darfur as a Human Rights Officer. He currently provides consulting services on civilian protection and Middle East issues.

Photo Credit: Tarek Radwan

 

The High Electoral Commission released official results for the first stage of elections on December 4.  The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) led the polls with 40 percent of the vote and the Salafi Nour Party came in second with 20 percent, followed by the Egyptian Bloc with 15 percent. The Wafd Party won 6 percent, while the moderate Islamist Wasat Party won 4 percent.

Results for the 28 largest parties competing in the elections are listed below:  

1. Freedom and Justice Party: 3,565,092 votes
 
2. Nour Party: 2,371,713 votes
 
3. The Egyptian Bloc: 1,299,819 votes
 
4. Wafd Party: 690,077 votes
 
5. Wasat Party: 415,059 votes
 
6. Revolution Continues Alliance: 335,947 votes
 
7. Reform and Development Party: 185,238 votes
 
8. Egypt National Party: 153,429 votes
 
9. Freedom Party: 136,784 votes
 
10. Adl Party: 76,769 votes
 
11. Conservatives Party: 76,743 votes
 
12. The Egyptian Citizen: 67,602 votes
 
13. Peace Democratic Party: 51,704 votes
 
14. Ghad Party: 39,999 votes
 
15. The Union Party: 39,527 votes
 
16. The Arab Nasserist Party: 39,257 votes
 
17. The Egyptian Revolution Party: 36,975 votes
 
18. The Democratic Front Party: 33,293 votes
 
19. The Egyptian Arab Union: 31,223 votes
 
20. Modern Egypt Party: 27,006 votes
 
21. Egypt the Revolution Party: 26,804 votes
 
22. The New Independents Party: 10,792 votes
 
23. The Revolution Guardians Party: 5,895 votes
 
24. Human and Citizenship Rights Party: 4,436 votes
 
25. Social Peace Party: 3,416 votes
 
26. The Awareness Party: 3,180 votes
 
27. The Arab Party for Justice and Equality: 3,156 votes
 
28. The Constitutional Social Free Party: 3,047 votes
photo_1322916115331-1-0_1.jpg

Egypt's High Electoral Commission (HEC) has once again delayed the announcement of full election results, already pushed back by two days. At a press conference on December 4, the commission's head, Abdel Moez Ibrahim, announced a turnout rate of 62 percent and partial figures for some districts, before abruptly calling an end to the session, saying he had "no more energy" and had "run out of gas." Ibrahim claimed that the HEC has been unable to calculate the proportion of votes won by some party lists due to delayed results from certain polling stations. When reporters tried to inquire about the results for proportional representation seats, Ibrahim looked irritated and declined further questions, saying that that full results will be posted to the commission's website

Video Credit: YouTube
Photo Credit: AFP
 

Amr Hamzawy

Congratulations to Amr Hamzawy, prominent liberal intellectual and a good friend, for winning his seat in Heliopolis as an independent in the first round of parliamentary elections.  And without so much as a runoff!  

It is comforting that sound ideas, hard work, and courage count for something with Egyptian voters.  As this hilarious graphic indicates, Amr will certainly have his work cut out for him in an assembly that promises to be well stocked with Islamists.

Michele Dunne is the director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and an official observer of the first stage of the parliamentary elections. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

High Electoral Commission

The High Electoral Commission is preparing to announce official results for the first stage of elections. The HEC’s preliminary statement confirms record turnout:

  • 62 percent of eligible voters – 8,614,525 Egyptians – cast ballots in the first round
     
  • 2,756 ballot boxes were supervised by 10,143 members of the judiciary

This post will be updated when final results are available.

Photo Credit: al-Masry al-Youm

Kamal Ganzouri with Hosni Mubarak in 1997.

Egypt moved a step closer to forming a new government on December 1, as Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri submitted his cabinet nominations to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

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Prime Minister Ganzouri with Field Marshal Tantawi

Following reports that the Freedom and Justice Party and Salafi Nour Party won around 40 and 20 percent of the vote, respectively, the FJP’s secretary general Saad al-Katatny issued a statement denying an “alleged alliance” with the Salafis to form an Islamist government.  Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri is expected to announce the members of his new cabinet on December 3, and early reports indicate that he will retain as many as ten ministers from Sharaf’s government including two holdovers from Mubarak’s regime.

PROTESTS:

1) Thousands of protesters returned to Tahrir Square to commemorate the martyrs of the revolution and demand an end to military rule on December 2. The April 6 Youth Movement called for the formation of a revolutionary salvation government, saying the ruling military council’s appointment of Kamal El-Ganzoury as prime minister is undermining the revolution’s objectives.  Meanwhile, a few hundred pro-SCAF protesters staged a rally across town in Abbassiya Square supporting the military and denouncing Mohamed ElBaradei and the April 6 Youth Movement.  [al-Ahram, English, 12/2/2011] [al-Shorouk, Arabic, 12/2/2011]

ELECTIONS:

2) Following reports that the Freedom and Justice Party and Salafi Nour Party won around 40 and 20 percent of the vote, respectively, the FJP’s secretary general Saad al-Katatny issued a statement denying an “alleged alliance” with the Salafis and insisting that it is only coordinating with the Democratic Alliance, comprising 11 parties.  [Ikhwanweb, English, 12/2/2011]  [al-Ahram, Arabic, 12/1/2011]

3) Preliminary results indicate that the Freedom and Justice Party received almost 40 percent of the vote, followed by the Salafi parties with at least 20 percent (official results were expected on December 2). These figures suggest that Islamist parties may fill as many as 120 of the 168 seats contested in the first stage of elections. The liberal-oriented Egyptian Bloc, dominated by the Free Egyptians Party, the Social Democratic Party, and Tagammu’, is in third place. Early results also indicate that voters showed a bias in favor of familiar former parliamentarians over a new generation of younger candidates associated with the revolution. Several Mubarak-era MPs from the Brotherhood, Wafd, and NDP won seats in the first round and several more have moved on to the runoff round scheduled for December 5.  Prominent activists George Ishak (founder of Kefaya) and Gamila Ismail (ex-wife of Ayman Nour) lost in Port Said and Cairo, respectively. However, some candidates associated with the revolution, including Amr Hamzawy, won seats, and others -- Mostafa El-Naggar, chairman of the centrist Adl (Justice) Party and reformist judge Mahmoud El-Khodeiri – will compete in the runoff round. Although many observers expected the Wafd to perform well, the party suffered major losses. [al-Ahram, English, 12/2/2011]

4) Unofficial statistics suggest that voter turnout may have reached 70 percent in the first round, compared to an official turnout rate of 23 percent in the 2005 parliamentary elections. (Actual turnout was believed to be even lower in 2005). [al-Ahram, English, 12/2/2011]  

5) The Brotherhood’s FJP has 43 candidates advancing to the runoff round on December 5 in Cairo, competing against candidates from the Salafi Nour Party, the Egyptian Bloc, and the centrist Adl Party in Cairo, Alexandria, Kafr al-Sheikh, Damietta, Fayoum, Luxor, Assiyut, and the Red Sea. [al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 12/2/2011]

NEW GOVERNMENT:

6) Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri submitted his cabinet nominations to the SCAF on December 1. Ganzouri is not expected to announce the members of his new cabinet until December 3, pending the SCAF’s approval, but early reports indicate that he will retain as many as ten ministers from Sharaf’s government including two holdovers from Mubarak’s regime, Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Aboul Naga and Electricity Minister Hassan Younis. One of the few ministers who was not asked to stay on is Finance Minister Hazem al-Beblawi, who will be replaced by Ganzouri himself. Egyptian media speculated that Major General Mohamed Ibrahim was a front-runner for the Interior Ministry post, despite the fact that human rights activists and protesters are demanding that the ministry be radically restructured under civilian leadership. Ibrahim has been accused of “massacring” Sudanese refugees as Giza’s security director during the tenure of Mubarak’s former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly. The fact that several leading public figures under consideration for ministerial portfolios have declined the posts does not bode well for the Ganzouri government’s legitimacy. Prominent journalists Adel Hammouda and Magdy al-Gallad both declined the Information Ministry post, while actor Mohamed Sobhy rejected an offer to lead the Ministry of Culture.  [EgyptSource, English, 12/1/2011] [al-Ahram, English, 12/2/2011] [al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 12/2/2011]

7) The SCAF is expected to announce the formation of an “advisory council” shortly that will assist the military in administering the remainder of the transitional period until a new president is elected. The proposed council, intended to function as a “buffer zone” to prevent “misunderstandings” between the public and the armed forces, would consist of 30 representatives of political force including youth groups. The council would also have the authority to “advise” the SCAF on proposed laws or regulations. [al-Ahram, English, 12/2/2011]

U.S. POLICY:

8) Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) published an op-ed in Politico calling for conditioning military aid to Egypt on “Egypt should be conditioned on the holding of free and fair elections; an end of the abuse of emergency rule; and respect for due process and fundamental freedoms.” These conditions are included in the new Senate appropriations bill, but not the House version, although both drafts request the same level of funding, $1.3 billion, for the Egyptian military. [Politico, English, 12/2/2011]

9) The US embassy in Cairo appeared to sharpen its criticism of the military on December 1, warning that future exports of US-made teargas could be suspended if Egyptian authorities continue to use it to cause death and injury. Earlier this week, State Department spokesman Mark Toner defended the shipment of tear gas to the Egyptian government, saying that Washington has not seen “any real concrete proof that the Egyptian authorities were misusing tear gas.” Under Mubarak's regime in 2009, the US government authorized permanent export licenses for $101 million in defense sales to Egypt, including 33,770 units of 'tear gases and riot control agents," Jack Shenker reported [The Guardian, English, 12/1/2011] [State Department, English, 11/29/2011]

Photo Credit: Reuters

American-made tear gas

The US embassy in Cairo appeared to sharpen its criticism of the military on December 1, warning that future exports of US-made teargas could be suspended if Egyptian authorities continue to use it to cause death and injury. The Guardian's live blog reports:

"The warning comes after it emerged that the Egyptian ministry of interior had ordered 21 tonnes of teargas from the US following days of street clashes between revolutionaries and security forces in which countless gas canisters - the majority of them American-made - were launched at civilians, causing serious injuries.

Under Mubarak's regime in 2009, the US government authorized permanent export licences for $101 million in defense sales to Egypt, including 33,770 units of 'tear gases and riot control agents," Jack Shenker reported.  Ones hopes that Egypt's next government will be in the business of protecting human rights, rather than policing its own citizens.

Photo Credit: Charles Onians