Parliamentary elections law debate intensifies

The law governing the parliamentary elections continues to create controversy among different political players. 

Local papers reported on Tuesday that the committee tasked with drafting the law made changes to the legislation by increasing the number of women represented in electoral lists to at least five, as well as changing the number of party figures or independent public figures from three to six. 

The 15-member electoral lists will compete over 20 percent of parliamentary seats, leaving 80 percent of the seats for individual candidates. 

Several political parties expressed reservations about these percentages, slamming the majority individual candidates system as more preferential to traditional networks of electoral power, such as those of the National Democratic Party. Some parties, instead, bank on electoral lists to promote their candidates, relying more on party platforms and less on individual outreach, which is normally based on wealth, direct favors and tribal affiliations. 

The privately owned Al-Shorouk reported that the Salafi Nour Party had reservations regarding the draft law, because it gives the Brotherhood a chance to field candidates through party lists. The party, nevertheless, is a proponent of a mixed electoral system and has stood against the committee for pushing for an 80 percent quota of individual candidates. The Nour Party, which stood with the military institution against the Muslim Brotherhood in the wake of the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, had announced that it plans to compete in the elections for 100 percent of the seats.

In the 2011 parliamentary elections, a mixed system was applied, with two-thirds of parliament elected through lists while the remaining third was elected through individual candidates, resulting in an Islamist-dominated parliament. The Supreme Constitutional Court ruled in 2012 that the law governing the elections was unconstitutional because of the mixed system, which allowed parties to compete over seats granted to individuals. The ruling eventually led to parliament dissolution.

Meanwhile, the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that the Tagammu Party has objected to the ceiling of campaign expenditure, which is set in the current draft at LE3 million for individual candidates. 

Some parties have also objected to the distribution of districts, saying that they are not representative. The current draft distributes the country into 266 electoral districts for individual candidates and eight districts for lists.

Media reported that a delegation met with the committee responsible for drafting the law in order to diffuse tensions, particularly those erupting between the committee and political parties. The delegation included Amr Moussa and Mostafa Hegazy, both part of the 50-member committee that drafted the 2014 Constitution. 

Meanwhile, Al-Masry Al-Youm also reported that parties agree on keeping Ibrahim Mehleb’s Cabinet under the new cabinet formation, a preference expressed by the Wafd Party, the Tagammu Party and the Free Egyptians Party.

A different coalition forming in the lead up to the parliamentary elections is led by former Intelligence Chief Mourad Mowafy, according to the privately owned Al-Watan daily. Mowafy pledged support to Sisi through a parliamentary bloc made of political parties and groups. Al-Watan cites sources as saying that this coalition will field 600 candidates in the upcoming elections. Before officially announcing his support to Sisi, Mowafy’s name came up repeatedly in popular campaigns encouraging him to run as a candidate in the presidential election. 

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