Egypt parliament approves Senate law

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 15 Jun 2020

The law will bring Egypt back to the bicameral system, with two chambers of parliament

File Photo: A general view of the Egyptian parliament during a working session (AP)

Egypt's parliament approved on Monday a draft bill on the formation and election of the Senate. 

The bill will set up a 300-member Senate, one-third of which (100 members) will be elected via the closed list system, one-third through the individual system, and the last third will be named by the president of the republic.

Bahaaeddin Abu Shoqa, the head of parliament's legislative and constitutional affairs committee, said the Senate law is in line with Egypt's 2019 amended constitution (Article 248), which states that a second chamber – the Senate – shall be created to widen the scope of political participation. 

"The Senate will be entrusted with giving its opinion on proposed amendments to the constitution, the country's five-year socio-economic development plan, peace and alliance treaties, national security agreements, and draft laws referred by the president or the House of Representatives," said Abu Shoqa.

The ‘Support Egypt’ bloc's chairman Abdel-Hadi Al-Qasabi said the creation of the Senate will lead to activating political life in Egypt. 

"The return of the Senate will be a highly valuable addition to political life and national unity in Egypt," said Al-Qasabi, expressing hopes that "members of the Senate will contribute to the political development of Egypt."

Soliman Wahdan, a Wafdist MP and deputy parliament speaker, said the Wafd Party welcomes the return of the Senate. 

"We hope that the Senate will push political reform in Egypt forward and play a role in activating political life," said Wahdan.

Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said the return of the bicameral system will improve the performance of parliament in Egypt. 

"The existence of two houses will make sure that legislations are passed carefully and that the government comes under effective supervision," said Abdel-Aal, also arguing "that most world countries which have two houses were able to go a long way on the road of democracy." 

"I think that in the next 10 years we can see that countries with the bicameral system will achieve tangible democratic development," said Abdel-Aal.

He also indicated that the drawing of the districts of the Senate will be based on population. 

"The Constitutional Court also indicated that some socio-economic criteria should be taken into account when it comes to drawing the Senate's districts," said Abdel-Aal.

Representatives of most political parties also welcomed the Senate. 

Some MPs, like Ayman Abu Ela, the spokesperson of the Free Egyptians Party, said his party wants two-thirds of the Senate's members to be elected via the party list system, and the remaining third by appointment. 

"It is very difficult for many to run as individuals in the Senate's elections as its districts are very wide in geographical size," said Abul-Ela.

Leftist MPs, like Haitham El-Hariri, said he has fears that the roles of the new Senate will be just "cosmetic." 

"Most Egyptians showed little interest when Egypt had a second house by the name of the Shura Council before 2013 because the roles of this Council were quite insignificant," said El-Hariri.

On Sunday, parliament approved amendments to three laws regulating the formation and election of the House of Representatives.

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