By 2pm, there are a few things we know about the second round of parliamentary elections in Egypt today:
- 283 seats, more than half the total number of seats in parliament, are being contested today (meaning no candidate for those seats won the 50%+1 majority needed in last Sunday's elections).
- Of those seats, 188 are being contested between members of the same party - the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). 114 are being contested outright between NDP members, and another 74 are being contested between NDP members and independents running under the party's platform.
- There are rumors that in an attempt to fix its massive over-rigging last week, the goverment is rigging votes in favor of non-NDP candidates this time around. According to tweets and Al-Ahram's English online portal, an NDP candidate in Dakahleya's Aga district has withdrawn from today's runoff citing vote-rigging in favor of his competitor, a Tagammu candidate.
- Voter turnout is, as expected, noticeably lower than it was last week. According to the High Elections Commission (HEC), voter turnout last Sunday was 35% (There is strong suspicion that the number is vastly inflated. In Qasr el-Nil, a strategic district in downtown Cairo, only about 8.5% of registered voters cast ballots). We'll see what the "official" numbers are, but voter turnout might hover around 10% at the most today.
- Reports of violence, vote-rigging, polling stations opening late, representatives and monitors not being allowed into polling stations, and other irregularities have already been reported.
- Only 2 of 9 Wafd party run-off candidates headed the party's decision to boycott the second round of elections. Wafd party officials say those who disobeyed the party's order will be stripped of their party membership.
- Even if every independent and opposition candidate won their seat today - including those of the Wafd and Muslim Brotherhood who are boycotting - the NDP would still control approximately 80% of the seats in Parliament.
That's it for now, folks. Tune in later for more updates.