CAIRO, (AP) – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party won 90 percent of the seats up for grabs in a midterm election for the upper house of parliament, according to official results released Wednesday. Human rights groups have said there was widespread rigging in last week’s vote.
Of 88 seats on the Shura Council up for election on June 1, the ruling National Democratic Party won 80. Four opposition parties got each one seat and four seats went for independents. In the last midterm election in 2007, the ruling party won 84 of the 88 seats.
The country’s main opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, was the biggest loser in last week’s vote. It fielded 14 candidates but all lost and the group joined in allegations of vote rigging.
In Egypt’s 2005 parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood surprisingly came out with about 25 percent of the 454 seats. Though banned, members of the 80-year old group ran for elections as independents. Opposition parties fear the government wants to discourage them from competing in national elections set for November to avoid another strong showing by the Brotherhood.
A third of the Shura Council’s 264 members are appointed by the president and half of the remaining 176 seats were up for grabs in this election. The council traditionally has been a largely symbolic body that can only advise on legislation. But recently it was granted the power to oppose legislation.
Official turnout was reported at just below 14 percent, but rights groups said it was less than 10 percent.
Human rights group reported a wide range of violations including assault and preventing observers from entering some polling stations.