Egypt's preparations for parliamentary elections will take a new turn when the Higher Elections Committee (HEC) announces a preliminary list of candidates Sunday.
HEC spokesperson Omar Marawan told reporters that the number of parliamentary candidates is expected to reach an initial total of between 7,500 and 8,000, or maybe more.
Marawan explained that although the door to registration was officially closed at 7pm, 19 February, hopeful candidates who missed the registration deadline due to rigorous medical tests were allowed to submit their complete registration papers on Friday, 20 February, and Saturday, 21 February. "The number of those who had missed the registration deadline stood at around 3,000," said Marawan.
According to Marawan, the number of candidates who had successfully registered increased from 5,601 by the end of 19 February to around 8,000 by the end of 20 February. "Of these, around 6,400 were hoping to stand as independents, and more than 1,600 on party lists," said Marawan.
According to Marawan, Sunday's announcement of an initial tally of parliamentary candidates will be followed by three days of appeals. "I mean that from Sunday to Tuesday, candidates who were not allowed to register for different reasons can file appeals with administrative justice courts," said Marawan, adding that "from Wednesday and for five days (or until Sunday, 22 February), these courts in different governorates will be entrusted with giving final judgments on these appeals."
Marawan indicated that once all the above procedures are over, "We expect a final list of candidates to be available 24 or 25 February."
According to the HEC's timetable, campaigning in the first round of Egypt's parliamentary polls, due to begin on 21-22 March, will run between 28 February and 20 March.
Egypt's new parliament will comprise 567 MPs, with 420 independents and 120 party-based deputies. As many as 27 MPs will be appointed by the president.
Egypt's party-based candidates struggled hard to meet the registration deadline on 19 February. Competition for party-based seats will be confined to four districts with 120 seats: two with 45 seats each and two with 15 seats each. The two districts with 45 seats each include Cairo, and East and South Delta (six governorates); and North, Middle and South Upper Egypt (11 governorates). The other two districts with 15 seats each include East Delta (seven governorates) and West Delta (three governorates).
Marawan said the secular electoral coalition under the banner "For Love of Egypt" and the ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party were the only two political forces that had been successfully able to register complete lists of candidates in the four districts reserved for party-based competition. "As for other electoral coalitions, under the banners of Al-Wafd, the Egyptian Front, Social Justice, the Reawakening of Egypt, the Call of Egypt, and the Knights of Egypt, most of these have just been able to register lists in one or two of the four districts reserved to competition among party-based candidates," said Marawan, adding that, "We hope that all candidates of electoral coalitions will be able to register by the end of Saturday."
Meanwhile, the High Constitutional Court (HCC) is expected next week to give judgments on a number of lawsuits contesting the constitutionality of three laws regulating parliamentary elections. If articles of any of these laws are ruled unconstitutional, they would be amended to be in line with the constitution. Some analysts, like political science professor Gamal Zahran, expect the HCC's rulings to postpone the polls for a while.
Statistics show that 11 lawsuits have been filed, with some accusing the law on the exercise of political rights of discriminating against dual national citizens, others charging that the electoral districts law failed to establish equality among constituencies in terms of population density, while the remaining ones insist that the HEC refuse to bar remnants of former president Hosni Mubarak's defunct ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) from registering in the polls as a violation of the constitution.
Adly Mansour, head of the High Constitutional Court, decided not to join the court's deliberations on the two laws of political rights and the House of Representatives on grounds that they were issued while he was in office as interim president in Egypt. Anwar Al-Assi, the HCC's deputy chairman, will be entrusted with giving a judgment on the two laws.
The electoral districts law was passed last December, after former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi was elected president.