By Salma Abdalla
The first phase of the 2015 parliamentary elections has seen a significant improvement for women and Coptic candidates for the first time since 1952, according to the Maat Foundation for Peace, Development, and Human Rights.
The foundation issued a report on Monday stating that out of the 110 women registered as independent candidates in the first phase, five women succeeded in securing their seats in individual seats in the upcoming parliament.
Nasserist Party-backed candidate Nashwa El-Deeb, Hayam Fathi, Mona Shaker, Shadia Mahmoud, and Hend Qabari all secured their seats in the parliament.
The report revealed this is the first time in 60 years that Egyptian women win this number of seats. After the abolishment of the quota system in 2010, women won 11 seats only in the 2011 parliamentary elections, most of them candidates on party lists.
The numbers are expected to increase in the second phase of the elections in 13 governorates. There will be 198 women running as independents in the second stage, as opposed to 110 in the first round, which covered 14 governorates most of them rural.
Like women, Copts also managed to win a record number of seats in the elections’ first phase. For the first time since the 1952 revolution, three Coptic candidates won seats as independents in districts where most of the voters were Muslims. The report shows that these results reflect a change in the motives of Egyptian voters.
Egyptian Social Democratic Party candidate Ehab Mansour and Free Egyptians Party-backed Sherif Nady secured their seats for Giza’s constituency of Omraneya and Minya’s constituency of Malawy, respectively. Former police major general Tadros Qaldus from Assuit also won a seat in the first round of the elections.
Regarding the party-based lists, 44 political parties participated in the first phase most of which were formed post the 25 January Revolution. The political parties, which represented 34% of the total number of candidates, won 139 seats in total totaling to 51% of the parliamentary seats.
The Free Egyptians Party, the Salafist Al-Nour Party, the Future of a Nation, and Al-Wafd candidates constituted 46.1% of the total number of candidates on lists of political parties participating in the elections.
According to the report, the low turnout of the elections, with a 26.6% rate, was not an organised boycott but more of a tendency towards relative reluctance to participate in the elections.