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Elections countdown: 34 days
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Monday’s coverage of elections news was once again dominated by steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz.

After a seemingly endless series of rulings and counter-rulings, he may not be allowed to run for parliament, after all. A source from Monufiya’s High Elections Commission (HEC) told the privately owned Al-Tahrir newspaper that Ezz did not meet the conditions for candidacy, after prosecutors froze the National Post Office bank account he had opened to receive campaign donations.

Free Egyptians Party details anti-poverty program

The Free Egyptians Party has developed a plan to defeat poverty based on “the successful economic experiences of Brazil,” party spokesperson Shehab Wageeh told the media at a press conference on Monday.

The government should allocate part of the state budget to support those most in need, he said. To that end, the party recommends setting up databases to identify and locate under-served families who urgently require social assistance, Wageeh explained, and then send them regular cash transfers. 

Other key notes in the party’s economic platform including funneling part of the yearly budget into rehabilitating primary schools, and restructuring fuel subsidies without raising the prices of basic consumer goods, so that the state wouldn’t waste resources on subsidizing fuel for the wealthy, Wageeh said.

The allusion to Brazil is apparently a reference to the Bolsa Familia program, which development agencies widely regard as a success. The program provides families with around US$70 a month in cash transfers, provided their children stay in school and have regular health checks and vaccinations. According to the London-based weekly The Economist, in the course of a decade Bolsa Familia has reduced dire poverty by 28 percent while costing just 0.5 percent of Brazil’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Similar efforts in Mexico and Colombia have apparently not fared so well, however, and critics argue that while cash transfers help the poor to survive poverty, they don’t necessarily resolve the underlying conditions that block social and economic mobility. For example, boosting school attendance has a limited impact if the quality of public schools remains low.

Egyptian Front-For the Love of Egypt feud erupts into allegations of fraud

Gamal al-Zeini, spokesperson for the Egyptian Front coalition, has filed a lawsuit against his fellow coalition members, claiming that they withheld the nomination applications for their own candidates to support the For the Love of Egypt alliance, the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

Zeini, who was previously a member of parliament for ex-President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, contends that the candidacy applications were withheld in order to ensure that For the Love of Egypt would win the vote in the East Delta.  

Because the Nour Party and the Awakening Egypt coalition have both withdrawn from the elections, if the Egyptian Front has no candidates in the East Delta zone, then For the Love of Egypt would win by default, as no other parties would be contesting the seats.

However, analysts point out that even if For the Love of Egypt runs uncontested in the East Delta, the bloc still needs to garner 5 percent of the vote to win.

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