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Cabinet approves amendments to Egypt's contested parliament law

After a tug-of-war between political coalitions versus the ruling military, the cabinet set the laws regulating the electoral system ahead of the big day in November

Ahram Online, Monday 26 Sep 2011
Egyptian parliament
Egyptian parliament (Photo by Al-Ahram)
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Egypt’s cabinet yesterday approved amendments to the Parliamentary Elections Law in preparation for elections set for November.

The amendments were approved during a cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf. The amendments included changes to Article 1 of the law, which reduced the number of parliamentary seats from 508 to 498. The members will be elected through a general vote, with at least half of the members being either farmers or workers.

The third article of the law was also amended, stipulating that two thirds of the parliament will be chosen through closed electoral lists and the remaining third will be elected through a single candidate list. Additionally, according to Mohamed Hegazy, the official spokesperson for cabinet, two thirds of the representatives of every governorate will be chosen through closed party lists while the other one third will be chosen through single candidate lists. In every list, every factional candidate should be followed by a candidate who is a worker or farmer. According to the new amendments, each list should also include at least one female candidate.

Additionally, the new law will divide Egypt into 46 electoral constituencies where members will be elected using the electoral list voting system and 83 constituencies where members will be chosen on single candidate list voting system.

A new article was also introduced into the law, regarding the quota for workers and farmers in the parliament. According to the new article, if the workers and farmers do not get the required number of seats, the electoral committee should then refer to the next candidate list to pick new candidates to fill the quota.

According to Hegazy, the cabinet also approved amendments to the Shura Council (Upper House) Law, which lowered the numbers of seats in the council from 390 to 270. Additionally, two thirds of the council members will be elected through closed electoral lists and the remaining third will be chosen through single candidate list.

The new council law also stipulates that Egypt will be divided into 30 constituencies using the electoral list voting system and another 30 with the single candidate list voting system. Voters will pick two members from each constituency, with at least one candidate being either a worker or farmer.

These changes come after Egypt's ruling military council met with political parties in which many of parties pushed for closed lists.

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