Thursday, 22 September 2011

Parliamentary elections to take place in November

Elections for the People's Assembly – the lower house of parliament – will be held in three stages, the first commencing on 21st November. The announcement by the head of the electoral commission, Abdel Moez Ibrahim, has gone some way to allaying fears that Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has no intention of transferring power to a duly elected civil authority. This followed a series of decisions by the Council, including the extension of emergency laws in time and scope, and restrictions on the media. This raised concern that the gains of what is known as the 25th January revolution were being reversed.

Elections to the Shura Council, the upper house, will start on 22nd January. Final details of the voting days and procedures, including constituency boundaries, are due to be released on 26th September, after which campaigning can begin. Assistant Defence Minister, and member of SCAF, Gen Mamdouh Shahin, said: “The People's Assembly elections will be held at the end of November over three stages of two weeks each, followed by the Shura Council elections on the same basis.”

The decision followed a meeting between SCAF and 47 political parties and movements.

The new parliament is due to set up a 100 constituent assembly to draw up a new or revised constitution. No date has yet been fixed for presidential elections.

The proposed electoral system will have half the seats chosen according to party lists, by proportional representation, and the other half by direct vote in constituencies, via the first past the post system. This structure is, in effect, a compromise between the new and the old.

But the Muslim Brotherhood has criticised the compromise as favouring the old ruling party and traditional political families who have long dominated political life in rural areas. Secretary-general of the Freedom and Justice Party, the electoral vehicle of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Saad el-Katatni said: "We reject the suggested election law [as we want] to block the remnants of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and prevent the use of money or tribalism …We will demand that all parliament seats shall be elected through closed proportional lists."

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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