By Mohammad Baali
Albawaba.com – Cairo
The first stage of the elections for the Egyptian Shura Council will start Wednesday in eight governorates, where 232 candidates will be contesting 30 seats.
Two of the provinces, Giza and Qalioubiya, are parts of Greater Cairo.
Observers here expect that Wednesday’s polling will be quiet as 90 percent of the candidates are members of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), some of whom are running as independents. Besides, many of the candidates in rural areas are guaranteed their traditional victory as they are running on the strength of their tribal backgrounds.
The ministries of interior and justice have announced that preparations are ready for trouble-free elections, which will be held under the supervision of the judiciary.
The total number of contested seats in the three phases is 88, representing 67 constituencies.
Each stage will witness elections in eight governorates. In addition to Giza and Qalioubiya in the first stage, candidates will vie for seats in the governorates of Menoufiya, Beheira, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Qena and Northern Sinai.
Run-off elections will be held on May 22.
Starting May 27, the beginning of the second stage, voters will go to the polls in Al Sharqiya, Al Daqahliya, Damietta, Al Gharbiya, Ismailia, Suez, Southern Sinai and the Red Sea.
On June 2, run-off elections will be conducted for 25 seats.
As for the third stage, lasting from June 7-12, it comprises the governorates of Cairo, Alexandria, Kafr Al Sheikh, Al Minya, Assiut, Sohag, Aswan and the New Valley.
Thirty-three seats will be filled in this final stage.
No elections will be held in the governorates of Marsa Matruh and Port Said because the membership of their representatives is valid until 2004.
The 264-seat Shura Council is a consultative body that serves as an upper house.
According to the constitution, there should be no less than 132 members, two thirds of them elected by secret ballot, while the remaining third is appointed by the president.
The council provides consultations on constitutional and other major issues -- Albawaba.com