Egyptian Bloc rejects amendments to Parliamentary Elections Law
Sarah Raslan, Ahram Online, Monday 26 Sep 2011
Egypt's cabinet approves amendments to election law, leaving a wide spectrum of political parties dissatisfied

The Egyptian Bloc today issued a statement rejecting cabinet amendments to the Parliamentary Elections Law, under which two-thirds of parliament will be elected through proportional lists and one-third through single-ticket voting, after extensive meetings on Sunday evening.

They said the system does not allow party candidates to run for individual seats in parliament.

"These amendments do not meet the basic demands of the political forces which were discussed in many meetings with the military junta."

The Egyptian Bloc is a coalition consisting of liberal and socialist parties, including Al-Masreyeen Al-Ahrar Party, the Democratic Front Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Egyptian Socialist Party, the Egyptian Communist Party, the National Association for Change, and the Farmers' Syndicate.

The bloc said they want to ensure the upcoming elections fulfil their constitutional, legislative and regulatory purposes in order to avoid chaos, thuggery and bribery, especially with the current lack of security.

They added that despite being prepared for elections to take place as scheduled, they would like to renew their election demands, which were agreed upon by all political forces.

They have a number of demands that include the following: a new constitutional declaration from SCAF regarding supra-constitutional principles and rules for electing a provisional assembly to draft the constitution; a solely proportional list electoral system; an immediate solution to the lack of security on Egypt's streets; a ban on religious slogans in campaigns; a limit on campaign funds and regulations on party budgets; enforcement of the treachery law, and the exclusion of former National Democratic Party members from parliament.

Amendments to the Parliamentary Elections Law and the Shura Council (Upper House) Laws were approved by Egypt's cabinet on Sunday in a meeting headed by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf.

The approved amendments reduced parliamentary seats from 508 to 498, mandated that two-thirds of parliament will be elected through closed electoral lists and one third through a single candidate list, and members of parliament are to be elected through a general vote with half of the members being either farmers or workers.

The amendments also require that each list include at least one female candidate.

The new Parliamentary Elections Law would divide Egypt into 129 constituencies - 46 where members will be elected using the electoral list voting system and 83 where members will be elected using a single candidate list voting system.

Other changes include a reduction in the number of seats in the Shura Council by 63 seats, from 390 to 327.

The council law also says that two-thirds of the Shura Council is to be elected through closed electoral lists and one-third through single candidate lists.

Under the new council law, the country will be split up into 60 constituencies - 30 using the electoral list voting system and another 30 using the single candidate list voting system.

Citizens are to vote for two members from each constituency with the requirement of at least one candidate being a worker or farmer.

Parliamentary elections are set for November.