Elections monitor: NDP-Wafd-MB competition, tightening security measures against Brotherhood

As the November elections approach, the liberal Wafd Party has threatened to revoke its decision to participate, decided not to coordinate with the Muslim Brotherhood, and appears internally divided. The party’s executive council threatened Monday to boycott the November elections if the Egyptian government does not agree to its demands, in particular revoking Egyptian Television’s decision to prohibit campaign advertisements for its candidates, reports the party’s newspaper, Al-Wafd. 

The party has also pledged to compete against the Brotherhood in more than 40 districts, reports privately-owned Al-Shorouk. Wafd’s Secretary General Monir Fakhry Abdul Nour said past instances of coordination have been the exception to the rule and denied the party’s decision reflects a deal with the NDP, saying talks of a deal have become “annoying,” according to Al-Shorouk.
Abdul Nour said he expected his party to win a larger share of the seats in this year’s People’s Assembly elections (an estimate of 25 or more seats) than it did in 2005. He attributed the potential increase to “public anger against the NDP” due to increased commodity prices and other problems, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood’s diminishing popularity and the weak performance of its parliamentarians.
The party is unlikely to gain more than six seats, however, writes Mohammed Hamdi for state-run Rose al-Youssef. Hamdi points to the party’s deteriorating performance over the last 26 years, which he attributes to the absence of charismatic leadership and internal divisions, in addition to government restrictions. 
For his part, Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Issam al-Eryan said Wafd will need to coordinate with the Muslim Brotherhood if its leaderships keeps their word and compete for 90 percent of seats. Al-Eryan stressed that opposition forces should coordinate to ensure the largest possible number of seats in parliament and that the opposition has the most to lose from not coordinating. Notably, Rose Al-Youssef reports Wafd has given its candidates “a green light” to coordinate with Muslim Brotherhood candidates on an individual level.
The strongest competition will be in the governorates of Beheira, Sharqiya, Giza, 6th of October, Helwan, Kalyoubia, Alexandria, Kafr al-Sheikh, Kalyoubia, Fayoum, Assiut, Gharbiya, Suez, and Cairo, according to Al-Shorouk. In Beheira the Wafd Party and the Muslim Brotherhood will be competing over the professionals seat in six districts. In the Abu Kabir district of Sharqiya, both the Wafd and the Brotherhood will be competing against NDP candidate Ali al-Mesilhi, Minister of Social Solidarity. Rose al-Youssef reports that Wafd chairman Sayyed al-Badawi decided to nominate a Wafd candidate against al-Mesilhi in response to allegations that his party cleared some districts for ministers. 
In Gharibya, the Wafd party is competing against the Muslim Brotherhood in three districts, including Mahalla, the only district where a member of the Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Bureau will be running. In Cairo’s Sahel district, Wafd candidate and sports star Taher Abu Zaid is using “Honesty is the solution” as a campaign slogan to pull the rug from under the feet of his Muslim Brotherhood competitor Hazem Farouk, according to the weekly privately-owned Youm 7. 
NDP-Wafd-Muslim Brotherhood competition is also soaring in the districts of Sakolta and Sawama in Sohag Governorate, given the increase in the number of candidates competing from the three groupings, according to privately-owned Al-Dostour. In Sakolta, 24 candidates are competing over two seats. Faruk Ashour of the NDP and Nour al-Bahnassawi of the Wafd, among others, are competing for the workers seat. Muslim Brotherhood candidate Saad Mahfouz will be competing in Sawama. 
Wafd is also facing internal divisions in the run-up to November elections. Rose al-Youssef reports the party’s decision to allocate more campaign funding has sparked a heated debate between party candidates and leaderships. In addition, dissenting leaderships viewed the party’s decision to allow 12 independent candidates to run on the party list as inconsistent with the idea of party discipline, according to another report in Rose al-Youssef. 
In other news, NDP-Brotherhood competition continues in Alexandria, reports Youm 7. In the district of Karmuz, Alexandria’s governor Adel Labib has offered housing to 600 families in an effort to outmaneuver Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mahmoud Attiya. In the Raml district, NDP candidate Abdul Salam Mahgoub–Minister of Municipal Development–has spent a lot of time campaigning in various neighborhoods, promising residents he will solve their problems.  In Assiut, the Muslim Brotherhood “surprised” the NDP by nominating six strong candidates, reports Youm 7.   
Abdul Aziz Omar, head of the supreme electoral commission, announced that the slogan “Islam is the Solution” has been banned and the committee will request the barring of any candidate using it, according to state-run Al-Ahram. In Sohag, Muslim Brotherhood candidates reported tightening of security measures against them, as several of their banners were removed, reports Al-Dostour. In addition, security forces have prevented the Muslim Brotherhood from interacting with voters, and are banning the printing of any campaign materials. Muslim Brotherhood candidates also claim that security forces have instructed thugs and young members of the NDP to tear their posters down. 

Egypt's papers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run

Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party's Policies Secretariat

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

Youm7: Weekly, privately owned

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

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