Representatives of several Egyptian political parties will participate in a second round of a national dialogue on Sunday evening.
The first round of the dialogue, organised by the Future of a Homeland Party, was held early December.
Ashraf Rashad, head of the Future of a Homeland Party and chairman of parliament's sports committee, told Ahram Online that the new sessions of the national dialogue will focus on discussing election laws.
"As you know, parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held at the end of 2020 and so it is important for political parties to prepare in terms of reaching a consensus on election laws," said Rashad, revealing that "in the first round of the dialogue, held on 3 December, a number of opposition parties said they want the proportional list system to be adopted in electing the two chambers of the coming parliament – the House of Representatives and the Senate – at the end of 2020."
"They also said they do not want the security apparatus to have any hand in supervising the election, and that all political forces must get fair and equal coverage by the national media," said Rashad.
On Saturday, the Wafd Party said that it would join the national dialogue on Sunday evening.
"Wafd's Higher Council approved for the party to participate in Sunday's national dialogue and that the party's chairman Bahaaeddin Abu Shoqa will lead the party's delegation," said a Wafd statement, adding that "the dialogue aims to discuss the future of political activity in Egypt and implement Article 5 of the constitution, which states that Egypt's political system is based on partisan pluralism and a peaceful rotation of power."
Wafd's chairman Abu Shoqa, who is also the chairman of parliament's legislative and constitutional affairs committee, said that Egypt should have two or three strong political parties that can compete in a healthy political environment and achieve a true democracy.
"So, we hope that the scope of the dialogue will be wide enough to not only discuss election laws, but also to debate how to draw a new roadmap for Egypt's political future," said Abu Shoqa.
The Egyptian parliament's deputy speaker El-Sayed El-Sherif told Ahram Online that the Future of a Homeland Party's invitation to political parties to participate in a national dialogue should be considered a very progressive step.
"This initiative is important and should reactivate political life and reach a common ground on a number of important political issues ahead of 2020's parliamentary elections," said El-Sherif.
The first round of the dialogue in early December attracted representatives from Egypt's most high-profile political parties, including opposition ones such as Anwar El-Sadat's liberal Reform and Development Party and Farid Zahran's leftist Egyptian Democratic Socialist Party.
Abdel-Hadi El-Qasabi, leader of parliament’s Support Egypt majority coalition and deputy head of the Future of a Homeland Party, said the new round of the dialogue will hold further discussions on laws regulating the election and performance of the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Redrawing of Electoral Districts, the Exercise of Political Rights, and the performance of political parties (passed in 1977)," said El-Qasabi, adding that "differences are expected, especially since controversial political issues related to electoral systems and laws can never gain 100 percent approval from all forces."
"But we hope we will reach a kind consensus on the electoral system which will be adopted in the coming elections," said El-Qasabi, adding that "the dialogue should also send a strong message to the outside world that Egypt is seriously, albeit carefully, moving towards a fully democratic life."
Most of the representatives of political parties said that although it comes late, the initiative taken by the Future of a Homeland Party should be wholeheartedly welcomed by all political forces. Mohamed El-Amin, deputy head of the Conservatives Party, said that his party “recommends that the proportional list system be adopted in the coming parliamentary elections.”
"This, rather than the closed list system, ensures that all political parties gain seats and have representation in parliament," said El-Amin, expressing hopes that "the coming parliament will have a strong majority and a forceful minority."