Mansoura residents will be responsible for ten seats in the upcoming parliament (8 list, 2 individual). Here’s a few interesting things about their election, which begins today:
The Sure Shot: It doesn’t seem likely that anyone can come close to matching Dr. Yousry Hany, of the Freedom and Justice Party, for the individual professional seat. Calling Hany anything but an honorable and respectable figure in these parts seems to be forbidden, even for liberals. Moreover, Hany got his seat fraudulently taken by the NDP in past elections, so there’s a healthy majority here who believe it’s rightfully his this time around. I’d be surprised to even see a runoff for this seat.
Women in the Next Parliament: One of the most disheartening developments thus far is the abysmal number of women who have taken seats in round one and two of the election. This troubling phenomenon is largely explained by the fact that most party lists, when required to place one woman on their list, did so by posting them dead last, ensuring that their female candidate was never actually a meaningful contender. Interestingly enough, Mansoura is pretty much guaranteed to find itself with at least one female MP – and it’s thanks to the Muslim Brotherhood – who has placed Saham Gamal as the number two candidate on their list. If the Revolution Continues Alliance, in a long shot, gets three seats, so too will Dr. Noha Sharqawi, the higher ranked of two female candidates on their list.
The lesson going forward, in my view at least, appears to be that at the point where you are making female requirements to ensure that a reasonable number of women have a chance to enter parliament, ensure that parties can’t simply circumvent the law by running one last on the list. If anything, this makes the plight of women worse, as parties can claim they met their obligations and supported female candidates when, for all intents and purposes, they never actually did. This election law should be amended.
The Closest Race: If there was such a thing as a faluul race in Mansoura, it would be in the individual labor seat. Two of the three strongest candidates here are former NDP members. One, Waheed Fouda, took the seat in 2010, and his brother Mamduh won the seat nearly every election cycle before that dating back to the early 1970s. Interestingly, one of Fouda’s competitors is another NDP member, Mohamed Shabara, who has switched his alliances to the Salafist Nour Party. Both men will be competing with the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Tariq Qutb, who, not nearly as popular as Yousry Hany, still has the FJP advantage.
The question in this race is how many Islamist votes Shabara of Nour can steal from the FJP’s Qutb, which would then strengthen Waheed Fouda’s chances. If Shabara has an unusually strong showing, it could mean Waheed Fouda takes the seat outright. What’s more likely however, is a runoff between Fouda, the former NDP seat holder, and Qutb of the FJP. At this point, and with Shabara no longer splitting his votes, it seems Qutb would have the upper hand. It’s anything but given, though, as Fouda is an unusually popular faluul candidate who seems to take credit for building the city into the urbanized center (relative to other Nile Delta locales) it is today – and many people stand with him on this point.
The Party Lists: Of the eight seats up for grabs it’s clear that the Muslim Brotherhood’s FJP will garner the most. The remaining seats will likely be split between the Salafist Nour Party and the Revolution Continues Alliance, who have displaced the largely non-existent Egyptian Bloc for liberal votes in this district.
In fact, Mansoura might end up the place where the Revolution Continues does its best relative to its painfully weak earlier results, largely in part due to a combination of the Egyptian Bloc absence and its lists’ endorsement by the city’s most prominent local figure, Mohamed Ghoneim, a world renowned surgeon. Sadly, all that equates to maybe two of eight seats. In some ways, this speaks to what “liberal success” realistically looks like in post- revolution Egypt.
And Because Everyone Likes Picks: Just for fun, here’s how I think this district – the one I openly acknowledge you all never cared to know so much about – will end up looking like:
Individual (2 seats): Professional: Yousry Hany (FJP); Labor: Tareq Qatb (FJP)
Party Lists (8 seats): FJP: 4 seats; Nour: 2 seats; Revolution Continues: 2 seats