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Friday, Dec. 17, 2010

EDITORIAL

Troubling results in Egypt

In Egypt's parliamentary elections, held Nov. 28 and Dec. 5, the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) won an overwhelming majority of seats. That victory was ordained when the two main opposition parties boycotted the second round of voting after alleging fraud in the first ballot. The results clear the way for President Hosni Mubarak to claim another term in office in elections next year.

The final tally shows the NDP winning 420 seats or 83 percent of the 508 seats in the Egyptian Parliament. Opposition parties took 14 seats and independents 70 seats. (Results for four seats are still outstanding.)

While the NDP's victory was inevitable, its scale was magnified by the decision of the Muslim Brotherhood and Wafd, the two leading opposition parties, to withdraw from the runoff after the NDP won 209 of 211 seats in the first round of voting. (Some Wafd members defied the boycott and ran as independents in the runoff.) The Muslim Brotherhood had held 88 seats in the previous Parliament.

Nonpartisan observers in and out of the country charged the government with attempting to manipulate the results. According to law, political parties based on religion are illegal. Some supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood were rounded up before the vote. Violence occurred. Votes were allegedly rigged.

Critics say these were devices aimed at eliminating institutional opposition — Parliament selects the president — to yet another term for Mr. Mubarak, who has ruled the country since 1981. The president is 82 and has been in ill health. He has not yet declared that he is officially running and many observers believe he is laying the groundwork for his son, Gamal, to succeed him.

The rise of Muslim political forces has long disturbed the established order in Egypt. Radicals assassinated former President Anwar Sadat, and Mr. Mubarak and his allies have struggled to contain their influence.

In the latest elections marred by widespread reports of irregularities, Mr. Mubarak and his allies appear to have succeeded in their attempt. But that has increased grievances, not eliminated them. That is no solution.



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