CAIRO: A number of ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) leaders criticized Sunday the opposition forces and their performance during the recent parliamentary elections.
In his opening speech marking the second day of the 7th NDP Annual Conference, the party Secretary General Safwat El-Sherif said the results of the People’s Assembly (PA) elections may have “shocked the party opponents everywhere.”
The NDP competitors “overestimated their own political weight on the streets of this country,” he added.
According to El-Sherif, this was one of the reasons behind the withdrawal of what he described as “the illegal group” [the Muslim Brotherhood] from the elections.”
The NDP swept the PA polls, winning 420 seats out of 508 amid wide accusations of fraud, violations and vote rigging allegedly committed by the authorities in favor of the party candidates.
Opposition groups, parties and human rights organizations have repeatedly called for dissolving what they described as the “null and void” PA that does not represent the will of the Egyptian people.
Hundreds of lawsuits were also filed to challenge the legitimacy of the parliament as a whole.
El-Sherif further criticized the former opposition MPs saying that “they were only focused on attacking the NDP, [denouncing] its policies, and underestimating its achievements.”
“They also tried to spread rumors about the party before the elections,” he added.
Such actions, according to El-Sherif, led to the defeat of these candidates. He added that the decision of some opposition groups to boycott the elections made them lose every chance to succeed.
Both the Muslim Brotherhood group and Al-Wafd opposition party pulled out from the elections after the first round held Nov. 28, deciding not to compete over the PA seats in the runoffs.
On Aug. 30, opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei called on Egyptian citizens and all opposition groups and parties to boycott the PA elections.
“While they were busy thinking of election boycott, the NDP was…thinking about selecting the best nominees to represent [the party] in the elections,” El-Sherif said.
“We don’t have time to waste in struggling [with others],” he added. “We acquired a success testimonial of our party from the Egyptian people that was accredited by the ballot boxes.”
El-Sherif said that the party has been preparing for the elections since 2005. “[Then] we kept waiting for the confrontation day … [until] the results came to renew the trust in our leader Hosni Mubarak.”
The NDP won 83 per cent of the votes in the 2010 PA polls.
“The victory of the NDP candidates in the PA elections was not [haphazard]…We had confidence in ourselves,” El-Sherif said.
“At the time when the NDP united its members…the other side put forward random numbers [of candidates] without planning,” he added.
El-Sherif expressed respect for the opposition parties, though.
“[The opposition parties] are our partners in [creating] the future,” he said. “We [have faith] in their political sense…and that they will discover that the boycott advocates are the advocates of retreat and illegitimacy,” he said.
For his part, Ahmed Ezz, the NDP head of Organization Committee, directly attacked the Brotherhood.
“What boycott are they talking about?” he asked. “Over 14 million citizens voted in the PA polls..saying no to the boycott.”
“In 2005, the illegal group successfully made use of the electoral system, forming coalitions…in every constituency, which allowed them to acquire the votes of the supporters of other candidates in the same constituency,” he added.
In 2005, the Brotherhood won 88 seats to establish itself as the biggest opposition bloc in the PA.
“In 2010, we absorbed the strategy of electoral coalitions…and our reaction was to nominate more than one candidate [in the same constituency],” Ezz said.
This tactic, according to Ezz, made paved the way for NDP-NDP coalitions where there was no place for other political trends.
“For the group, Egypt is just an emirate in a global project,” Ezz said. “The group members’ loyalty is not for the guidance office [rather than] Egypt.”
“They claim to be [advocates] of morality. Yet we got to know through the press that their best method in elections is to spread rumors against their competitors,” Ezz said.
Ezz called on the conference participants to maintain the secular state.
“Always make sure to defend the secular state…in the face of those who want the [Egypt to be governed by religious principles],” Ezz said.
Meanwhile, Zakaria Azmy, the NDP’s assistant secretary general for organizational, financial, administrative, and membership affairs, defended the NDP, saying that winning the majority of seats in the parliament was a result of the organizational and political efforts it made over the past five years.
“The NDP prepared for the elections with serious organizational work undertaken under strict supervision from…party leaders who had the highest degree of commitment to its principles,” he said.
Azmy added that the party respected the law and the constitution as it competed over the PA seats.
“The party asked its candidates to have the highest degree of self-restraint even if their rivals wronged them,” he said.