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Presidential hopefuls prefer individual endorsements over MPs' support - Daily News Egypt

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Presidential hopefuls prefer individual endorsements over MPs’ support

By Heba Hesham CAIRO: A number of presidential hopefuls opted to get the required 30,000 individual endorsement signatures instead of those from 30 MPs, seeing it as the first real indicator of popular acceptance of any candidate. Presidential hopefuls, who are not members of established parties with parliament representation, must collect the signatures of 30 parliamentarians …

By Heba Hesham

CAIRO: A number of presidential hopefuls opted to get the required 30,000 individual endorsement signatures instead of those from 30 MPs, seeing it as the first real indicator of popular acceptance of any candidate.

Presidential hopefuls, who are not members of established parties with parliament representation, must collect the signatures of 30 parliamentarians or 30,000 eligible voters from at least 15 governorates in order to be qualified as candidates.

“From people and to the people,” said Abdel Moniem Abol Fotoh’s electoral campaign. “The support of 30 MPs is an easy catch, but we are searching for the real value through competing on people’s support.”

Members of the campaign of the youngest presidential hopeful, Khaled Aly, criticized what they described as confusion by the announcements of the presidential electoral committee in this regard.

“Some notary offices where people are supposed to register their support to candidates refused to make endorsements for Aly without justifications,” said Adel Wasily, of the campaign. “However, we insist to get the 30,000 signatures and Aly won’t run through other means of support.”

Hamdeen Sabahy, head of Al-Krama Party, has two options other than getting the endorsement signatures, running on behalf of his party that has seats in the parliament or getting the support of 30 MPs. Yet, he preferred to work for the 30,000 signatures.

According to Hossam Mo’nes, general coordinator of Sabahy’s campaign, the Nasserist candidate is capable of getting the support of MPs who are affiliated to various political streams like the Revolution Continues Alliance, the Egyptian Bloc and few independents.

Meanwhile, Hazem Salah Abou Ismail’s campaign denied Tuesday reports that they have already received the support of more than 30 MPs.

“We believe that the purpose of publishing such news is to withhold citizens from going to notary offices to make endorsements for Abou Ismail,” his campaign said in a statement posted online.

The preference to seek public support could be explained with the way voters evaluate candidates, which analysts argue is focused on character rather than political affiliation.

“Political parties’ support to candidates is an important factor that hopefuls depend on. However, it can only be discussed [along with] other factors, because presidential elections don’t depend mainly on partisan affiliations as on public acceptance of the character,” said Nabil Abdel Fattah, an analyst at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

Some presidential hopefuls want to steer away from the idea that they are the candidates of certain parties; they want to show that they have public roots, he added.

By insisting on getting the 30,000 signatures, those candidates are also sending a message to all potential voters.

“Some (of the candidates) call themselves independents as they are not members of any party. But others like Sabahy, who is a head of a party, want to give an impression that they are powerful enough to become president,” said Gamal Fahmy, board member of the Journalists’ Syndicate.

On the other hand, Ahmed Shafiq, former minister of civil aviation and the last prime minister appointed by Mubarak; Amr Moussa, former secretary general of the Arab League and former foreign minister; and Mohamed Selim El-Awa, Islamist thinker and head of the Egyptian Association for Culture and Dialogue, announced they are working on both scenarios.

Their campaigns said the presidential hopefuls would run with whatever is ready first.

The electoral commission opened the door for candidacy on March 10. Over 300 had acquired the applications and list of requirements. By Tuesday evening, only one application was submitted. The door closes on April 8.

Several political parties have refrained from announcing the candidate they would support, some in fear of internal lifts. This, analysts argued, could be an obstacle for those hopefuls who want to get MPs’ support.

All eyes are on the top Islamist parties that made landslide victories at the legislative elections.

“We will not announce which candidate we’ll support until registration is officially over,” said Ahmed Abou Baraka, outspoken member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which controls the majority at the parliament with around 47 percent of the seats.

According to Abou Baraka, the FJP announced earlier that none of its members will compete for presidency or give his support to a candidate through the 30 MPs endorsements.

Abol Fotoh was expelled from the group last year after he announced his plans to contest the presidency.

Yousri Hammad, spokesman of the Salafi Al-Nour Party which came second to the FJP in the elections, said there is a suggestion in the party to allow MPs to give their support to more than one candidate, but this is yet to be discussed.

While the, the individual endorsements mean that the candidates were able to recruit around 30,000 members in their campaigns, parties are the basis of the political scene, Fahmy argued.

“Part of why candidates are describing themselves as independents is to be able to make deals with the biggest parties and reach agreements with the current leading authority,” Fahmy said.

Fahmy and Abdel Fattah believe that the idea of a consensus on a specific candidate is still on the table.

“The leading authority and the FJP are main players in this idea,” Fahmy said.

According to analyst Abdel Fattah, Mansour Hassan, head of the SCAF-appointed advisory council who announced his candidacy this month, is the one most likely to get the support of the Islamists and the SCAF.

The liberal Al-Wafd Party officially announced its support to Hassan; however, a number of youth at the party were not happy with the result.

“There are various view points because the party didn’t nominate one of its members,” said Abdel Aziz El-Nahas, member of the high committee of the party.

Al-Wafd, had earlier announced its support to Moussa. However, “When Mansour nominated himself, we held a voting meeting where Hassan succeeded to get the majority of votes, [beating] Moussa with only three votes,” El-Nahas said.

“But some youth objected. Therefore, we are re-discussing the issues,” he told DNE. “All members will commit to the final decision either to commit to one candidate or allow the party’s MPs to give endorsements to another candidate.”

Meanwhile, three movements — Masrena, Youth for Justice and Freedom, and El-Tayar El-Masry party — announced their support for Abol Fotoh.

The Socialist Popular Alliance Party said it supports MP Abol Ezz El-Hariry for presidency.

The leftist Al-Tagammu said it will decide later this week on the candidate it will support.

Amr Farouk, of Al-Wasat Party, told DNE that the party is setting up a committee that will try to convince either El-Awa, the candidate it had earlier said it would support, or Abol Fotoh to withdraw from the race for the sake of the other.

As for Aly, Abdel Fattah believes that parties will not support economic and social electoral programs such as his. “They mainly focus on the character and the extent of its public acceptance,” he said.


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