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Egyptian parties and activists request open lists in parliametnary polls

Liberal and leftist parties as well as activists argue that free and open lists would allow freer and fairer parliamentary elections

Ahram Online , Sunday 6 Apr 2014
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FilePhoto: A man takes his a ballot paper before casting his vote at a polling station in Toukh, El-Kalubia governorate, about 25 km (16 miles) northeast of Cairo January 3, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)
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Liberal and leftist parties as well as political activists have asked interim President Adly Mansour for the country's next parliamentary elections to be based entirely on open party lists, which they argue would offer more "representational justice" than the polls in 2011-2012.

Closed party lists in Egypt's parliamentary elections have previously accounted for two-thirds of the available seats. Under this system, a vote for the party meant a vote for all of the candidates on the list – voters were unable to choose an individual.

However, in the request submitted to Mansour, the political groups asked that this closed party list system be changed to allow voters to select individual candidates from the list.

An open list system, they argued, would combine the advantages of the bloc system (individual candidates) and the closed party system, while still giving more representative results. It would also make the votes based on the list's platform rather than the individuals themselves, thereby allowing for voting based on tribal and family links, as well as a candidate's promised personal services or favours, which happened regularly in elections under ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

Another advantage to the open list system, the signatories said, is that it would ensure that candidates from the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood wouldn't be allowed to run on individual tickets. The Brotherhood won the majority of parliamentary seats in the 2011-2012 polls.

The request also asked that the lists not be bound by a specific number of candidates and that the candidates not be required to belong to political parties.

According to Al-Ahram Masai newspaper, the signatories include: Hala Shukrallah, president of Egypt's Constitution Party; Abdel-Ghaffar Shukr, head of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party; Mohamed Abul-Ghar, head of the Egyptian Socialist Democratic Party (in his individual capacity) and Ahmed Said, head of the liberal Free Egyptian Party.

Egypt's parliamentary elections should be held after the upcoming presidential elections, which are expected to conclude by 5 June – or 26 June in the event of a run-off.

According to the 2014 constitution, procedures for the parliamentary polls must start within six months of the ratification of the national charter, which was approved by an overwhelming majority on 18 January.

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