After five days of deliberations, the State Council (administrative court) has finalised revisions of Egypt's electoral constituencies law, a step which paves the way for holding the country's long-awaited parliamentary polls.
In press statements to parliamentary reporters, Ali Abdel-Al, a member of a technical committee which drafted the law, indicated that the State Council introduced some changes to the draft to make sure that it goes in line with Egypt's new constitution passed in a public referendum last January.
Abdel-Al said the number of electoral constituencies reserved to competition among independent candidates increased from 232 to 237.
"This will involve the creation of 83 (rather than 78) constituencies that will elect a single independent MP, 123 (rather than 119) which will elect two MPs and 30 (rather than 35) to elect three MPs, thus spreading the 420 independent MPs stipulated by the House of Representatives law across 237 constituencies,” he said.
The House of Representatives law stipulates that Egypt's new parliament will be comprised of 567 seats – 120 for party-based candidates, 420 for independents and 27 for presidential appointees.
Abdel-Al also indicated that consultations between the technical committee which took charge of drafting the law and the State Council's department of legislation and fatwas led to the introduction of the above changes.
"We reviewed the reactions of political parties over the first draft of the law announced last week and we decided to increase the number of constituencies which will return one MP each or two MPs each and cut the number of constituencies which will return three MPs each," said Abdel-Al.
Abdel-Al explained that as a result five constituencies were added to raise the total number from 232 to 237 – one of these was allocated to Giza governorate to reflect its population density.
Abdel-Al also indicated that while the committee and State Council adopted some of the proposals put up by political parties, they rejected others because it was found out that these do not go in line with article 102 of the new constitution, which stipulates equality among constituencies in number of registered voters and size of the constituency area.
As for the constituencies reserved to competition among party-based candidates, these were left standing at 120 as prescribed by the first draft of the law. The 120 successful deputies drawn from party lists will battle it out in four constituencies, two of which will return 45 deputies each, and the remaining two 15 each.
In light of this, Abdel-Al explained that he thinks "the law in its current final form stands on solid constitutional grounds and it cannot be challenged in this respect."
Abdel-Al said the law, after it was revised by the State Council, will be referred back to the cabinet and to the Higher Election Committee (HEC) – or the judicial body in charge of supervising parliamentary polls – to endorse it.
"If everything is okay, it will be sent to president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to ratify it, thus opening the door for HEC to set a date for registration in the coming parliamentary polls."