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Egypt: Political parties and partial lists

Now is the time to bring the constitution into harmony with relevant legislation and to secure the revival of democracy in Egypt

Abdel-Moneim Said , Friday 11 Mar 2011

The arrival of Al-Wassat (Centre) Party on the political stage is good news. The declaration by the Muslim Brotherhood that it will form the Freedom and Justice Party as a civic political party, and the announcement by Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya of its intention to form the Reform Party, which is also civic, demonstrate that political party life in Egypt has been revived and should not be obstructed by the current political parties law.

In order for recent constitutional amendments to fully influence political reality there needs to be a political parties law that requires only simple steps, with a declaration that the party will not use violence and that its platform does not threaten national unity. Another law is needed for the elections, based on partial open lists, which would allow voters to choose their representatives from party lists.

The details of all this can be discussed at another time. What is important here is that there is a good opportunity to amend the constitution and legal procedures to make them more compatible. By deciding to use the national ID card for voting, and as long as judicial and international supervision are available, then voter turnout will be large.

When voter numbers were no more than 25 per cent of registered voters, ballot rigging was possible; but when all these safeguards are in place, voter turnout will triple. Not only will forgery be impossible, but this will also prevent any force, irrespective of its political and organisational capabilities, from monopolising the political arena.

Here, the citizen’s role will be simple: take his ID card to the nearest balloting station, check mark the candidate he wants from the list of the party he supports, or choose the president he desires. Nothing more.

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