Candidates registering on Wednesday for Egypt’s first parliamentary elections since the overthrown of the autocratic Hosni Mubarak said they feared Mubarak loyalists would sneak their way onto the candidate lists. Essam Said, registering as a candidate in Giza west of Cairo Wednesday, said veterans of Mubarak’s now disbanded National Democratic Party (NDP) would get themselves included on party lists because running as independents would make them easier to identify.
“The NDP people are hiding themselves inside the party lists,” he said, adding that he knew one former NDP legislator who planned to stand as a candidate for the liberal Wafd party. Under election rules set after Mubarak’s overthrow, two thirds of the lower house will be elected via the party lists covering entire regions, the rest as individuals in smaller constituencies. The rules are designed to stop old Mubarak loyalists, many of them wealthy notables with enduring local influence, returning to formal politics.
Elections during Mubarak’s time were marred by widespread ballot stuffing, vote buying and bullying to ensure sweeping wins for the NDP.
The elections are seen as a crucial test of the ruling military’s commitment to end decades of autocratic rule in the Arab world’s most populous country.
Elections for parliament’s lower house are due to start on November 28. If they go smoothly, it could boost the standing of the army, under fire for its handling of simmering social unrest and suspected by many Egyptians of plotting to stay in power.