Political parties say registration process 'difficult,' individuals not complaining


Political parties and independent candidates rushed to the New Cairo Court on Saturday to submit their candidacy applications for the November legislative elections.


But while political parties described the process as "extremely disorganized" and "difficult,” candidates vying for one-third of the seats allocated to individuals, had no complaints.

"There's no respect for the candidate’s humanity, it's extremely crowded…a little organization would have made the registration process much easier," Basel Adel, member of the political bureau of the Free Egyptians Party, told Daily News Egypt.

The registration was extended for the second time until Monday at 5 pm to accommodate the large number of applicants. The deadline was supposed to be on Saturday.

Adel submitted the application of candidates representing the Egyptian Bloc, which includes the Free Egyptians, Al-Tagammu and the Egyptian Democratic Social Party, on the East Cairo constituency.

The Egyptian Bloc is contesting 332 seats in addition to several seats reserved for independent candidates. The list for the South Cairo constituency consists of eight candidates including one female candidate and two Copts.

Adel had run and lost in the 2005 parliamentary elections, which he remembered as being much easier and smoother to register for.

"We used to apply at Security Directorates and there was more than one place to submit applications, but this courtroom is too small for the large number of candidates," he said.

Mohamed Mahsoub, member of the political bureau of Al-Wasat Party, who was at the New Cairo Court for the second time to submit missing documents from his application, echoed Adel's concerns.

"Registering for the 2000 parliamentary elections was easier," Mahsoub told DNE.

"But the elections were rigged. This time there will be no forging the elections," he said.

Mahsoub too had contested and lost in the 2000 PA elections

"A lot of my relatives were detained in 2000 because that's what the former regime did…they detained the opposition and their families," he said.

Al-Wasat Party submitted 46 lists of candidates in the 46 constituencies of the PA, in addition to candidates who will be contesting individual seats.

The list for East Cairo consists of eight candidates including seven men, and one woman.

Ahmed Saqr, 31, on top of El-Adl Party's list for the Qasr El-Nil constituency, pointed out that workers faced several obstacles in applying.

"Workers have to get a document from the Egyptian workers’ syndicate proving that they are workers," he said, adding that in order to issue this document, a worker must have been a member of the syndicate for at least a year.

Al-Adl's list of candidates for Qasr El-Nil constituency consists of eight candidates including two women and one Copt. The party is also fielding 150 candidates to contest the individual seats.

Non-party list candidates said the process was much easier than it was under ousted president Hosni Mubarak's reign.

"In 2010, we applied at Security Directorates and there was no place to sit, but here the courtroom is big and there is a lot of space to sit and wait," said Nagwa Abbas Ahmed, member of the Popular Socialist Alliance Party, running as an independent in the Nasr City constituency.

Mohamed Sobeih, an independent candidate running in El-Gammalia constituency, agreed with Ahmed.

“Last year, I had to fill in 25 forms to complete my registration, now it's only a couple of forms and the process is a lot easier," he said.

Both Ahmed and Sobeih ran in the 2010 elections and lost to former ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) candidates.

They believed that despite the dissolution of the NDP in April, its prominent figures will make a strong showing at the polls.

"Former NDP members still have the nerve to run in these elections after they corrupted Egypt," Ahmed said.

Ahmed claimed that the NDP candidates were getting special treatment from employees processing the applications.

In North Sinai, several people affiliated with the NDP were seen at the registration offices. They include former NDP MP Ahmed El-Qusally, representing the Freedom Party, and former NDP MP, Ramadan Serhan.

Candidates also criticized the huge budget of up to LE 500,000 allowed for political campaigning, saying it would allow remnants of the former regime to come back with force.

"The budget should be reduced to LE 75,000," Sobeih said.

"Do we want the remnants of the NDP and corrupt businessmen to come back and buy the country all over again?" he asked.

On her part, Ahmed said her campaign budget is LE 30,000, "but I have great hope that I’ll win," she said.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is currently reviewing the proposed political exclusion law. However, political players believe it is too late since parliamentary candidates have already been submitting their applications for the past week.

As a female candidate, Ahmed said that it's hard for any woman in general to run in parliament, adding that the amendments to the PA law are unfair to women and Copts and will deprive them from representation in the PA.

The amendments canceled the women’s 64-seat quota which was implemented in the 2010 PA elections, without guaranteeing the rights of women or Copts to be represented fairly. However, the women’s quota was replaced with a stipulation that each party must nominate at least one female candidate on its list, but with no stipulation as to her position on the list.

Adel admitted that the two women included in his party's list for East Cairo constituency were placed on the bottom of the list.

"Unfortunately the female candidates don't have popular support and we need to put people with popular support at the top of the lists…it's a necessity, " he said.

However representatives of Al-Wasat and El-Adl parties pointed out that their female candidates were in the middle of the lists.

Ahmed pointed out that Nasr City constituency, where she is competing, had a well-educated demographic which supports the idea of electing women.

She added that she wasn't new to the elections scene, as she gained experience and a reasonable number of supporters while campaigning in 2010 against ex-petroleum minister Sameh Fahmy.

"I personally don't feel any kind of discrimination against me," she said.

Other candidates were running for parliament for the first time describing it as a privilege they gained after the January uprising that toppled the regime.

"There were no elections in Egypt before…we hope that now Egypt will have real elections," Saqr said. –Additional reporting by Hatem El-Buluk

* Daily News Egypt

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