Democratic Egyptian political parties to issue a joint statement on new electoral law

Ahram Online, Monday 13 Jun 2011

Egypt’s political forces are preparing to issue a joint statement critiquing the draft law governing on parliamentary elections, saying the draft as it stands would hand over parliament back to the old regime

Election 2010
A woman casts her vote for the parliamentary election in a school in old Cairo November 28, 2010. (Photo: Reuters)

The draft law that would govern Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections introduced on Sunday by the Supreme Council of ‎the Armed Forces (SCAF) stirred up controversy ‎on the Egyptian political scene, with many parties calling for immediate amendments.‎
El-Wafd Party head, El-Sayed El-Badawi met with Muslim ‎Brotherhood leaders to form a ‎joint committee to discuss issues of mutual interest, ‎including the suggested electoral law. ‎This follows a growing trend for political parties to communicate and cooperate with the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, which is expected to be influential in the upcoming elections.

Badawi paid the Brotherhood’s headquarters a visit to sit down with Supreme Guide Mohamed ‎Badie; Mohamed Morsi, head of the MB’s Freedom and Justice Party as well as ‎leading figure ‎Essam El-Erian.

It is understood that the suggested parliamentary law will be a top priority for the joint ‎‎committee.‎ ‎

Likewise, Egypt’s liberals and social democrats voiced disappointment at the draft, and several of them have been preparing a joint statement to express their reservations, expected to be released later today.‎

So far, five parties including The Egyptian Social Democratic Party, The Free Egyptians, ‎Freedom ‎Egypt, The Democratic Front have signed the draft statement. ‎

More parties from the liberal ‎political spectrum are likely to add their signatures to the ‎statement in the near future, including El-Adl Party (Justice Party) and the moderate Islamist, Al-Wasat (Centre) Party. ‎

According to the unreleased statement Ahram Online received a copy of, the new law ‎would not fix the ‎chronic problems the previous parliamentary elections witnessed, ‎such as intimidation tactics by hired thugs and vote-buying.‎

They also deplored the fact that the ruling military council are sticking to the individual candidacy system instead of switching to the recommended party-list proportional representation. By continuing to place so much power in one hand per district in a winner-takes-all system, it encourages people to vote for their tribal strongman, versus a proportional representation system that would force people to consider the respective candidate’s party platform, since the parties would gain seats according to the parties’ popularity, as well.

Arguments against the status quo individual candidates system claim that running for ‎‎individual seats will urge candidates to splurge cash on their respective campaigns, ‎which ‎could well lead to ballot rigging at this year’s elections. In the end, critics foresee that only one third of the candidates would run under a party and the remaining two thirds would run as independents – putting Egypt back at zero.

Running for individual seats will also prevent most women, Copts and handicapped ‎‎candidates from winning, according to the statement.‎

The military council submitted the draft parliamentary law to the National Dialogue yesterday. It did ‎not mention the number of seats allocated for women.‎ Pursuant to the previous law, ‎female candidates were entitled to a quota of 64 seats.‎

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