Egypt’s ruling party crushes opposition in vote

President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party has swept to a predictably huge win in a parliamentary election that the opposition denounced as rigged, Egypt’s High Elections Commission said on Monday.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which controlled a fifth of seats in the outgoing Parliament, boycotted Sunday’s second round after winning no seats in the first stage a week earlier. The second biggest opposition group in the last Parliament, the liberal Wafd party, also withdrew.

Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) secured about 80% of seats, based on final figures released by the elections commission, compared with about 70% in the last Parliament.

“The 2010 Parliament is certainly the most illegitimate in recent Egyptian history and no one can take it seriously,” said analyst Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Centre.

Of 508 seats being contested, the NDP won 420, while 70 went to independent candidates and 14 to other political parties. Results of the other four seats were not announced due to violations during the voting process, according to a commission official. Parliament has a total of 518 members, of whom 10 are appointed by the president. The elections commission said the turnout was 35% in the first round and 27% in the second, while rights groups put it at just 10% and 5% respectively.

The opposition and independent monitors said both rounds saw ballot-box stuffing, voter intimidation and other abuses. Officials said the process was fair, adding that complaints would be checked but did not undermine the overall vote.

Analysts believe the government wanted to rid Parliament of its most vocal critics to ensure a trouble-free presidential election in 2011. Mubarak (82) has not announced if he will seek re-election and has no obvious successor.

Many Egyptians believe his son Gamal (46) will run if Mubarak, whose health has been under close scrutiny since he underwent gallbladder surgery in March, is unable to do so. But analysts question whether Gamal has the popularity among the masses or the military support to take over. — Reuters

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