Supporters of Egypt’s Sisi set to dominate newly created Senate

CAIRO (Reuters) – Supporters of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won all but a handful of declared seats in a newly created second chamber of parliament, official first round results and media reports showed on Wednesday.

Only about eight million of the more than 62 million registered voters turned up on Aug. 11-12 to cast their ballots in the election for the Senate, giving a voter turnout of 14.23 percent, Lasheen Ibrahim, head of the National Election Authority, said in a televised news conference.

Results also showed that the strongly pro-government Mostaqbal Watan Party was set to be the biggest party in the Senate, an advisory body without legislative powers established through a constitutional amendment approved last year,

The Senate will include 200 elected members and 100 presidential appointees.

One hundred members will be elected as individual candidates and 100 more from a closed-list system, where people vote for parties rather than individuals.

A 100-member closed electoral list dominated by supporters of Sisi and led by Mostaqbal Watan won a third of the seats, Ibrahim said.

It was the only closed list submitted, although it included six members of two parties from an opposition coalition that opposed last year’s constitutional changes.

The list got the support of more than five percent of voters across the country, the legal percentage needed to declare that it had won by acclamation, Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim on Wednesday announced the names of 74 candidates who won individual seats and said a runoff vote would take place on Sept. 8-9 to determine the winners of the remaining 26 individual seats.

Local media cited an election authority document showing that Mostaqbal Watan won 68 of the 74 determined individual seats. The party confirmed the number on its official Facebook page.

The Republican People’s Party, another pro-government party, secured five individual seats and only one seat went to an independent candidate, the document said.

Egypt’s House of Representatives, the main parliamentary chamber, is also dominated by Sisi supporters.

Officials say the Senate will enhance political participation. But the build-up to the election was low key, which commentators attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, a lack of awareness about the new chamber, and voter apathy.

Additional reporting Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Aidan Lewis and Gareth Jones

Image: FILE PHOTO: Election officials wearing protective face masks count ballots inside a school used as a polling station and counting center at the end of the second day of Egypt’s senate elections in Cairo, August 12, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo

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