The results of the first round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections on 28 November have done little to discourage the notion that the country’s democratic system is no more than a veil for a one-party state.
The first round of voting has returned no outright wins for the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition movement in the current parliament, while other opposition parties won just a handful of seats.
The elections have already been widely rejected. The Wafd party has claimed the government has violated its promise to hold free and fair elections, the Ghad party has labelled the elections a “scandal”, while a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood told MEED that the “whole process was a fraud”. International observers and local election monitors agree that the elections were neither free nor fair, complaining of a lack of independent monitoring of polling booths and the intimidation of voters by security personnel.
Amnesty International has called on the government to investigate the deaths of at least eight people during the elections, and injuries to scores of others.
The outcome of the polls is no surprise. Having won just 172 seats in the 2000 elections, the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) redoubled its efforts to ensure a better result five years later. When the Muslim Brotherhood-linked independents managed to win 88 seats in the 2005 elections, the regime embarked on a systematic campaign to reduce the movement’s influence.
But while an NDP-dominated parliament may help ease the anxiety that surrounds the September 2011 presidential elections, the government is yet to declare an official candidate, the public is becoming increasingly frustrated with the political process.
While the NDP may believe it has secured a mandate on which to build its presidential campaign in 2011, the government could be growing dangerously out of touch with its people.