Egypt starts House of Representatives election process
Egypt started its two phased general election today with out of country voting (OCV) taking place for the governorates in the first phase of the elections yesterday. Today sees the first voting phase in country and it will last two days.
The High Elections Committee (HEC) hasn’t announced the number of eligible voters but there are approximately 55 million voters taking part in the two phases (AhramOnline reports that there are 27,402,353 voters in the first phase but we cannot verify the number). There are 27,343 polling stations which will open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. local time.
The two phases of the election are as follows:
Phase One: 18th – 19th October with run-offs on 27th – 28th October in fourteen governorates – Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suif, Meniya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira and Marsa Matrouh.
Egyptians living abroad will vote on 17th – 18th October; run-offs on 26th – 27th October.
Phase Two: 22nd – 23rd November with run-offs on 1st December – 2nd December in thirteen governorates – Cairo, Qalioubiya, Dakahlia, Menoufiya, Gharbiya, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Al Sharqiya, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.
Egyptians living abroad will vote on 21st – 22nd November; run-offs on 30th November – 1st December.
There are 596 seats in the new House of Representatives, with 448 seats for individual candidates and 120 seats to winner-takes-all lists with quotas for women, youth and Christians. The remaining 28 seats are appointed by the president.
It is almost impossible to predict the result of the election with dozens of parties and alliances running. Some are based upon ideological political positioning whilst others are the vehicles of personalities. Very few have put forward proper policy statements or manifestos. Many commentators are suggesting that the way in which the electoral system has been structured means that the president will be strengthened by the new parliament.
There has been no parliament in the country since 2012 and in the intervening period hundreds of laws and regulations have been passed or changed by presidential decree. All those changes will be put to the new parliament under Article 156 of the 2014 Constitution. If the new parliament fails to act upon them then all the decrees will be revoked. So it will be worth watching the activities of the new parliament in its first days as an indication of its degree of independence.
The High Elections Committee (HEC) has approved six party lists: Nedaa Misr (Call of Egypt), Sahwa Watanya Mostqala (Independent National Awakening), Fi Hob Misr (For the love of Egypt), Al-Nour Party (the Salafi Nour party list), Fersan Misr (Knights of Egypt), E’etelaf al-Gabha al-Masriya (Egytian Coalition Front), Tayar Alestiqalal (The Independence Current).
For the Love of Egypt is the only alliance to be fighting all 120 of the list system seats and is believed to be supported by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi . The alliance is broadly centre-right with a free market economy agenda.
The Egyptian Coalition Front and Independence Current (Egypt List) are anti-capitalism and privatisation whilst supporting small businesses and the idea of cooperatives. They are believed to be closely associated with the former Mubarak regime.
The Call of Egypt believes that its role will be to support investors, fight corruption and collect taxes efficiently as well as combatting poverty and unemployment.
The Knights of Egypt have focused on technical education, social justice as well as fighting terrorism. The party contains lots of retired army officers so is expected to be loyal to President El-Sisi.
At least six parties are boycotting the election.