Egypt’s opposition said on Monday that its candidates were heavily defeated in parliamentary elections a day earlier, accusing the ruling party of manipulating the vote to ensure a sweeping victory.
Opposition complaints were backed up by a coalition of local and international rights groups that observed Sunday’s elections and said they lacked any transparency and were marred by widespread fraud.
The Muslim Brotherhood and the liberal Wafd party said the initial results they reviewed indicate they will have little representation in parliament. In the past session, the Islamist Brothers held 20 percent of the body’s seats.
Brotherhood’s media official Abdel Galil el-Sharnoubi saud none of the group’s 130 candidates have so far secured a seat. He says they either lost to the National Democratic Party or face a December 5 runoff.
El-Sharnoubi says the Brotherhood will in effect be “excluded” from parliament.
Rafiq el-Ghitani says his Wafd party also has no winners so far, while a handful of candidates will go into runoffs.
Official results are expected on Tuesday.
The coalition of rights groups estimated that turnout for the elections was only 10 to 15 percent, substantially less than the 25 percent turnout in the 2005 and criticized the denial of access to representatives of the opposition parties and independents to the ballot boxes.
“The election started in the morning but they were already in darkness because the representatives of the opposition were not allowed in,” said Bahey el-Din Hassan of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights.
In the absence of any kind of monitors, either from civil society or the opposition, the activists alleged supporters of the ruling party were able to stuff the ballot boxes, something they could not do in the past because of the presence of judges in the polling stations.
A 2007 constitutional amendment declared that judges were no longer necessary to observe the actual voting process. Many attribute their presence to opposition success in the past two elections.
“We are facing violations that we have not seen in the last two elections, when the stuffing of ballots boxes had stopped because judges were in the polling stations,” explained Hafez Abu Saada of the Egyptian Organization of Human Rights. “This year we have gone back to the tradition of marking ballots.”
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also declared the elections not to be free.