- Title: EGYPT: Campaigning begins in landmark Egyptian parliamentary elections
- Date: 3rd November 2011
- Summary: SQUARE IN DOWNTOWN CAIRO WITH BANNER HUNG FOR MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD RELATED 'FREEDOM AND JUSTICE' PARTY HANGING VARIOUS OF BANNER (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE AND DEPUTY HEAD OF MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD ASSOCIATED 'FREEDOM AND JUSTICE' PARTY, ESSAM EL-ERIAN, SAYING: "Elections in 2001, after the revolution, have different taste. And think the results will also be different. For the first time there will be a large turnout within a new political life and new parties that have injected new blood into the political scene, and there is expected to be full judicial supervision, the neutrality of the administration, the absence of intervention by the security and police. I think these elections will be different and that the results will have a great impact on the public life in general in Egypt." SQUARE IN DOWNTOWN CAIRO WITH BANNER HUNG FOR MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD RELATED 'FREEDOM AND JUSTICE' PARTY HANGING
- Embargoed: 18th November 2011 12:00
- Location: Egypt, Egypt
- Country: Egypt
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA8EH1RM3I8ZE33ZOI4P4AQ43W1
- Story Text: Campaigning kicked off on Wednesday (November 2) in landmark parliamentary elections in Egypt that will be a key test for the country's transition to democracy nine months after the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak by a popular uprising.
The elections are the first free polls in the Arab world's most populous state after decades of one-party rule under Mubarak. More than 50 parties are competing in the new electoral landscape. Islamist parties, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, are expected to do well in the upcoming polls, which will begin on November 28 and will take place in three stages.
Elections under Mubarak were marked by fraud and intimidation, but many said today that they expected things to be different this time around.
"We all know what the difference is, it doesn't require any explanation. But we have to participate in order to encourage, to change and to become better," said Ali Ibrahim Ismail.
Another man said that with the success of social networking in the uprising, it would be hard for those who wish to use fraud to succeed in the elections.
"There is no reason to have concerns about the transparency of the elections. Not a single person in Egypt now dares to falsify elections or give electoral bribes, as was common before. Nor do anything that breaches the law, be it a judge or a member of the security or a voter or candidate. There is nobody in Egypt now that dares challenge Facebook or mobile phones, millions of cameras that can immediately put your picture on the internet and would immediately reveal the truth about you all over the world within ten seconds," said Ayman Awat.
The winner could gain the first popular mandate in modern Egyptian history after decades of strongman rulers and secure a decisive role in drafting a new constitution -- the subject of power struggles between Islamists, liberals and the army.
An alliance of political parties made up of youth candidates who took part in the Egyptian revolution met today to discuss their strategy during the upcoming ballot. After years of one party rule there have been fears amongst activists who took part in the revolution and secular groups that politicians associated with the previous regime and Islamist parties will dominate the elections. Members of the revolutionary coalition said today that their movement was different than other coalitions contesting the vote.
"We have, and this is something that distinguishes us from everyone else, and that is that we have one hundred candidates under the age of 40, and so it founded on the spirit of the youth and of the revolution," said one of the organizers.
Parliamentary Candidate Mohamed Abbas said his primary concern was the ruling military council's refusal to lift the emergency law and the ongoing use of military trials against thousands of civilians.
"I have no fears that the candidates might falsify. My concerns are about the country being under military rule, emergency laws, and military trials - how can I function? How can I have no fears about my freedom and my work? How can I have no concerns about the security of the elections and its fairness? Elections under emergency laws and military trials are bound to lack transparency and fairness," he said.
Twenty-five year old Gamal Abdul Hamid, who is the youngest candidate in the race, said that it was important that youths who took part in the revolution reassure people they will restore security while safeguarding freedoms.
"We are offering practical solutions to the issue of the security of the Egyptian citizen so the citizen must feel safe at home, at work, and on the road if he's travelling, he should feel safeanywhere. The second point is about freedom. It cannot be that after the revolution that galvanized the potential of the youth and the potential of the whole Egyptian people that there still be military trials for civilians. We cannot go on trying civilians by special courts. There cannot be any censorship on anything in the country except within the law," he said.
Shahir George, who is running for the Egypt Freedom Party, said that the government and military needed to ensure that the parties can campaign without fear of intimidation.
"The campaigning is starting today and we will see how strong is the state is in protecting the campaign, and this is actually more important than ballot boxing. What I need security in is to be able to represent my ideas and views without any threat to my life or security," he said.
Despite the fact that campaigning has now officially begun, few parties have begun advertising, and election posters were in little evidence today. One party that has hit the ground running is the 'Freedom and Justice' party, the political party associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood won twenty percent of the seats in Egypt's 2005 elections and are widely expected to outperform their less experienced and organized rivals this time around, particularly in the absence of the ruling party and intimidation from the security forces. The party's deputy leader, Essam el-Erian said that this year's elections would be a landmark in every sense.
"Elections in 2001, after the revolution, have different taste. And think the results will also be different. For the first time there will be a large turnout within a new political life and new parties that have injected new blood into the political scene, and there is expected to be full judicial supervision, the neutrality of the administration, the absence of intervention by the security and police. I think these elections will be different and that the results will have a great impact on the public life in general in Egypt," said el-Erian.
The staggered parliamentary elections are due to begin on November 28 and last until March, with different dates for different chambers and regions of the country.
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