The elections to the House of Representatives in Egypt revealed that the regime’s supporters had maintained their hearty meal, which has been cooked on the stove of power every five years. But this time, it is devoid of the salt of the opposition although its percentage was too small to beautify the form without affecting the content. The elections, which the authorities say are secure from the repercussions of the coronavirus, have surfaced with accusations that the opposition inside the country is “weak” and that supporters of the regime “use political money.”
The vote for the House of Representatives (the first chamber of parliament) took place shortly after the elections to the Senate (the second chamber). It showed broad control of the regime’s supporters, who ran the elections without competition from any opposition party. The first round of the first and second stages has ended, while only two reruns remain. This is the second parliamentary election since the approval of the 2014 constitution. The first assembly was elected in 2015, amid a remarkable boycott by the opposition forces.
The elections resulted in the remarkable phenomenon of vote-buying until the word “political money” appeared among the regime’s supporters. This image seemed to form a form of opposition from within the regime, especially as it hesitated among the heavyweight pro-regime figures, to fill an empty ballot of prominent opponents. This term appeared in the words of journalist Abdul Rahim Ali, who wore the dress of the opposition in these elections when he said: “I am facing the largest campaign of political money that took place in the modern history of Egypt.” Ali, who thunderously lost his seat, talked about the candidate, businessman Muhammad Aboul Enein, who later won the position. Aboul Enein won a seat that was occupied by Ali, who left for Paris on a business and medical trip, as soon as indications appeared that he was losing the elections. This bribe money was also evident when six members of the former MP Mai Mahmoud campaign were arrested on charges of distributing money to voters to vote for her.
The Egypt’s Call list also addressed more than one statement to the Egyptian people and the political leadership, complaining about the use of political money to “buy” votes and crude violations, indicating that a report was submitted to the Election Commission about the violations. The excesses did not stop there. Rather, the campaign of the losing candidate for the Socialist Democratic Party, Mohamed Fouad, accused the judges supervising the constituency committees of “rigging the elections” in favour of the ruling regime’s candidates. The campaign accused the judges of manipulating the electorate’s votes, increasing the turnout, and granting fake votes to the regime’s candidates.
The security services in the Dakahlia Governorate also threw a losing candidate into the elections and nine of his supporters after dozens of them gathered in protest against the candidate’s refusal to contest the election results. The second of these phenomena is the Nation’s Future Party, which rose rapidly in this election and won the absolute majority of seats, as it is the political back for power and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s party.
The party provides many services, including facilitating all procedural matters concerning the formation of the presidency of parliament and its bodies and passing or proposing legislation that promotes the state’s stability at this critical stage, according to what the supporters of the regime see. Faced with the al-Sisi’s party’s sweeping victory and the fact that it has the regime’s back, the opposition largely disappeared, except for several candidates running in several constituencies.
So, the question of “Where is the opposition?” has become acceptable, especially with the decline of serious participation and the inability of Asma from the domestic opposition to decide the fate of the seats for which it is competing. According to observers, it may allow some opponents who are running in the run-off to win parliamentary seats, given that it is not in the regime’s interest to have a parliament completely free of opposition. The regime fears this scenario, which was one of the causes of a popular revolution that toppled the late President Hosni Mubarak (1981-2011). More than one opposition name may be present in the next parliament, even if the matter obligated al-Sisi to appoint opponents, to complete what supporters see as a democratic wedding that has not witnessed any breaches.
In every electoral round, accusations are repeated for the internal opposition to be weak and unable to organise its ranks in the regime’s face. Meanwhile, opponents respond that the general atmosphere does not help create a democratic process, which the authority usually denies. The opposition parties objected to the closed list election system, as it wasted more than 49 per cent of the vote, caused huge districts to expand, and needed clear electoral alliances. This disappearance from the opposition was also followed by the disappearance of the Salafists, especially from the Nour Party, whose chances, according to observers, have become weak and are closer to repeating the experience of zero in the Senate elections. However, it is not usually counted against the opposition, as it is closer to the system.
In the 2012 parliament, the party won 96 seats, ranked second, and won 45 seats in the Shura Council elections (the second chamber) in the same year. Despite his support for the military coup that al-Sisi led when he was defence minister in the summer of 2013, the Nour Party’s seats in the 2015 parliament fell to only 12 before reaping zero in the Senate elections (the second chamber) recently. In these elections, big names supporting the regime also fell, and they contested with great loyalists as well, most notably Abd al-Rahim Ali, who leaked audio on the eve of the elections attacking the head of the regime and insulting the law and the state, before denying its authenticity, and saying that it is “fabricated.” Mortada Mansour, president of the Zamalek club, his son Ahmed, and former MP Muhammad Abu Hamid also came out of the race.