On Wednesday and Thursday, Egyptians will head to the polls for the second stage of the country’s lengthy parliamentary elections. Unlike the first stage, which included Cairo and Alexandria, this stage will take place mostly in the countryside. So far the Islamists have won 69 percent of the seats in the first stage. This result will be repeated in the second stage with an increased percentage. The Islamist tsunami will only gain strength as it moves into more friendly districts.
In the second stage, nine Egyptian governates will be voting to elect 180 members of parliament. Those governates will include for the first time the heart of the Nile Delta, Monofia, Sharkia, and Behira. They will also include Giza, with its urban and rural districts, the Suez Canal governates Ismailia and Suez, as well as the Bani Suif and the southern governates Sohag and Aswan.
Providing more proof of how chaotic the electoral process has been, the election commission has indicated today that it will implement a court order stopping party-list elections in Behira’s 2nd, Sohag’s 2nd, and Monofia’s 1st districts, representing 24 seats. In those areas voters will only vote to fill individual seats. Party-list elections in those areas will be take place simultaneously with the runoff elections for the individual seats next week.
In preparation for the second stage, and after the shock of their terrible performance, the non-Islamist parties have attempted to offer a unified front to counter the Islamist onslaught. The main non-Islamist parties have agreed on a list of candidates to back on the individual seats, while each maintain their separate lists on the party list seats. This will be the test of their combined power, though it is quite doubtful that it will be of any actual value.
The main story of this stage will be how the rivalry between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists will play out, especially after their electoral clashes in the runoff elections of the first stage. Besides that, a number of seats and governates are important to watch.
1. Giza is the last of the major urban center to vote. In Cairo, the Islamists received 58 percent of the seats, but Giza is not Cairo. Two of its five districts are completely rural and even its urban ones are much more Islamist than Cairo’s. The Islamists could possible win 21 out of 30 seats in Giza.
2. The three urban districts in Giza are the last chance for non-Islamists to win individuals seats. The battle of Giza’s 3rd district is especially important to watch. Political analyst Amr El Shobki is the candidate backed by the non-Islamists. If he fails in his bid to win this seat, then the non-Islamists stand no chance.
3. Bani Suif will vote exactly as Fayyoum did. Sixteen seats for Islamists out of 18 available is a safe bet.
4. The three Delta governates that will be voting are expected to go heavily in favor of Islamists. Out of 84 seats available, Islamists can possibly gain 66 seats. Their performance there will be repeated in the third stage, which will include the other half of the Delta governates. In those governates as well as in Giza’s rural districts and Bani Suif, the Salafists will compete ferociously with the Muslim Brotherhood.
5. Sohag is the last hope for the former NDP members. Largly a tribal governate, it should be their best chance to gain seats. Nonetheless, it is important to note that nothing can stand in front of the Islamist tsunami. Sohag will not be immune to the crushing waves. A few seats might escape the Islamists there, but that will change very little in the final outcome.
6. Sohag is also the only governate voting in this stage that has a significant Christian presence. It is thus the only place where the Egyptian Bloc has any hope in gaining a few seats. Based on their position in the party lists, there are only three Christian candidates that have a chance at winning a seat in this round.