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More Than 10,000 Egyptians Abroad Vote in First Round of Phase Two of House Elections

More Than 10,000 Egyptians Abroad Vote in First Round of Phase Two of House Elections

An Egyptian woman living in Bahrain casts her vote during the first stage of Egypt's parliamentary election at the Egyptian Embassy in Manama, Bahrain, October 17, 2015. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
An Egyptian woman living in Bahrain casts her vote during the first stage of Egypt’s parliamentary election at the Egyptian Embassy in Manama, Bahrain, October 17, 2015. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

By Hend Kortam, Aswat Masriya

The turnout for voting abroad in the second phase of Egypt’s parliamentary elections is “expected” to be higher than that of the first phase held last month, said the head of the committee overseeing voting abroad.

Voters headed to the polls on Saturday in the second and last phase of elections to choose members of the House of Representatives, in a poll that saw a low turnout in phase one.

The head of the committee, who also serves as deputy foreign minister, Ambassador Hamdy Loza told a press conference that by 2 pm, more than 10,000 Egyptians abroad had voted.

The number of Egyptians living abroad is estimated at 8 million.

In the first phase of the elections, 30,531 people voted abroad, representing a mere 4.5 percent of over 680,000 potential voters. Some 1,800 of those votes were invalid.

Loza said he hopes invalid votes would decrease in phase two considering the effort spent on clarifying the voting mechanism.

Voting abroad in the second phase will run until tomorrow, Sunday, while round one of voting inside Egypt is set to start tomorrow for two days.

The total number of eligible voters in the second phase is 28.2 million, with the capital, Cairo, accounting for the lion’s share with 6.8 million potential voters.

The interior ministry has geared up for the polls, mobilising 180,000 security personnel, a source at the ministry told state news agency MENA.

The upcoming legislature will be made up of 568 elected representatives, 448 running for individual seats in single-member constituencies and 120 running via the electoral lists system. The president may appoint up to 28 members, which adds up to a total of 596 seats.

According to the State Information Service, 222 individual seats are up for grabs in the second phase.

Voters from 13 provinces will cast their ballots in the coming two days in Cairo, Qalyubia, Daqahliyah, Menoufia, Gharbia, Kafr el-Sheikh, Sharqiya, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai in the ongoing phase.

Individual candidates or coalition lists must secure 50 plus one votes to win seats.  In phase one only four individual candidates won seats in the first round, leading to run-offs in the majority of constituencies. Frontrunners For the Love of Egypt coalition, however, made a sweeping victory, nabbing all 60 seats available in the list system.

The turnout rate in the first phase of voting was 26.56 percent of a total of 27.4 million.

Run-offs held in 99 constituencies saw a turnout rate of 21.71 percent, after 5.5 million of a total 25.58 million eligible voters cast their ballots.

The parliamentary elections were originally scheduled for earlier this year, with the two phases set to be held in late March and late April.

They were postponed when the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled in March against the constitutionality of an article in the constituency law, which was issued by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The house elections mark the final phase of a “roadmap to democracy” which President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced to the nation in July 2013, following the military ouster of Egypt’s first democratically-elected Islamist president Mohamed Mursi after protests against his rule.

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Aswat Masriya is a Thomson Reuters Foundation-sponsored website that covers Egypt's transition to democracy. en.aswatmasriya.com

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