Egypt announces schedule of parliamentary elections

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President of Egypt Mohamed Morsi has announced that parliamentary elections will be held in four stages beginning April 22 : April 22-23, May 15-16 and June 2-3 and 19-20 culminating in the first session of The House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament on July 6. Elections were announced after the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, adopted an electoral law as amended by the Constitutional Court (to be ratified soon). The new chamber is likely to have to decide on tough economic measures that the International Monetary Fund is demanding in return for a US $4.8 bn loan which Egypt needs to tackle an economic crisis.

Currently Egyptian politics is struggling with unrest, insecurity and a crippling economic crisis with the polity deeply divided between Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood supporters and a liberal-led opposition. Protesters accuses Morsi of betraying the revolution that brought him to power, and have often turned violent. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FPJ), which Morsi headed before his election, hopes to win more seats this time .

The lower house was dissolved last year after the court ruled the original law used to elect it was unfair. The Shura Council temporarily holds legislative authority until the legislature is elected. On Monday, the Constitutional Court demanded changes to five articles of the revised electoral law. The Shura Council accepted this ruling and adopted the legislation without a vote on Thursday. However it sent the revised laws directly to president and not to court thus risking another review similar to june 2012 when the court termed revised electoral laws as unconstitutional and dismissed lower house elected on that basis . The revision raises to 546 (from 498 )the number of seats in the legislature in order to help ensure fair representation of electoral districts across the country. The new law bars members of parliament from changing their political affiliation once elected. Under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, independents were often cajoled into joining the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), which monopolised parliament and political life before the 2011 revolution. The law also stipulates that one third of the lower house should be designated for independents and bans former members of the now defunct NDP from participating in politics for at least 10 years.

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