Egypt’s ruling party sweeps run-off polls

EGYPT’S ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) scored a sweeping victory in elections for the upper house of parliament after its members won all but two seats in the run-off round, state media reported overnight.The Election Commission said NDP candidates took 84 of the 88 seats up for grabs after winning 14 out of the 16 remaining seats in the run-offs, the state news agency MENA reported.

A candidate for the leftist opposition Tagammu Party and three independent candidates won the remaining four seats.

The elections, for one half of the elected seats in the Shoura Council, were a test case for constitutional and legislative changes banning political activities based on religion, amendments human rights groups said were designed to hit the Muslim Brotherhood opposition group.

Elections for half of the elected seats take place every three years. President Hosni Mubarak has the right to appoint another 88 members of the council, which has limited powers.

The Brotherhood, Egypt’s strongest opposition force, failed to win any seats in the first round and none of its 19 candidates won the right to stand in the run-off one week later.

Only candidates who took at least 50 per cent of the vote won in the first round. The run-off second round was between the two candidates who won most votes in the first round.

In the elections for the lower house of the parliament in 2005, the Brotherhood won nearly a fifth of seats, alarming the government of Mr Mubarak, which began a fresh crackdown on the Islamist movement late last year. Before last week’s vote, police detained more than 700 Brotherhood members.

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