Egyptians vote in run-offs with loyalists in the lead

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 27, 2015 7:23 AM

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptians voted on Tuesday in run-off elections for more than 200 parliamentary seats in which no clear winner emerged in the first round of polls, with candidates loyal to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi widely expected to dominate.

Only a quarter of the electorate turned up last week for round one of the election of Egypt's first parliament in three years, the final step on a roadmap that is meant to lead Egypt to democracy but which critics say has been undermined by widespread repression.

Egypt's last parliament, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected in 2011-12 in the first election after the popular uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule. It was dissolved by a court in July 2012.

Sisi, then military chief, removed President Mohamed Mursi of the Brotherhood from power a year later following mass protests, banning the group and declaring it a terrorist organization. He was elected president in 2014.

The new parliament will contain 568 elected members - 448 elected on an individual basis and 120 through winner-takes-all lists. Sisi may further appoint up to 28 lawmakers.

"For the Love of Egypt", a loyalist electoral alliance led by former intelligence officer Sameh Seif Elyazal, won all 60 list-based seats contested in the first round and is expected to secure the remaining 60 in the next voting round on Nov. 22-23.

All but four of the 226 individual seats up for grabs in round one are being contested in Tuesday's run-offs after none of those running clinched more than 50 percent of the vote.

Three of the four seats already decided were won by former members of Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party, which was disbanded in the wake of the 2011 Tahrir Square revolt.

The fourth seat was won by a Sisi supporter.

In the absence of the Brotherhood, critics say the ballot offers many names but little genuine choice.

A list of socialist and liberal parties which would have presented the main opposition choice eventually withdrew, leaving the field dominated by Sisi supporters, Mubarak-era figures, provincial notables and businessmen.

The lack of interest in voting reflects disillusionment but also voter fatigue.

Egyptians have participated in two presidential elections, two parliamentary elections and three constitutional referendums since the 2011 uprising. Polls often drag out over several weeks with different rounds and run-offs draining them of momentum.

(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Lin Noueihed and Alison Williams)