The Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC), headed by Judge Ayman Abbas, announced Sunday it will be “constantly meeting” to follow up on parliamentary laws and prepare the necessities, ahead of election preparations.
Elections were cancelled last March and are currently pending the revision of previous unconstitutional laws. Last Thursday, one step was completed by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, approving the new law dividing electoral constituencies.
According to numerous promises by the president to local and international communities, parliamentary elections are to be held before the end of the current year. Three laws were set to be reconsidered, including two on the parliament, and one organising political rights.
Commenting on the electoral districts’ law, the National Movement Party’s Vice-President, Yehia Qadry, told Daily News Egypt Sunday that the question of fair or proportional representation cannot be determined, because the constitution left those definitions vague.
“But in general, regarding the parliamentary election laws, we have submitted our demands, concerns and suggestions previously, but they have been ignored. Now, any mistakes that should result from new laws are the sole responsibility of the government,” Qadry said.
Parliamentary elections are set to be held through closed lists and individual seats, according to the first parliamentary law, which gave a majority of 80% to seats elected individually, amid political controversy.
However, Deputy Director of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPPS) sees no real will for change on behalf of the state. “The problem is not with the details currently being amended, it is in the base of all parliamentary laws,” Amr Hashim Rabie said.
“The law was tailored according to the ‘wishes’ of the executive power, and the upcoming parliament will be inflated, one does not know how nearly 600 members will handle legislative power,” he added in Sunday statements to Daily News Egypt.
The new electoral distribution of constituencies did not touch upon the list-system, but reduced the number of constituencies allocated for the individual seats system from 237 to 205.
The reduction of electoral districts does not translate into less parliamentary seats. Some districts have been merged together, and a number of seats were redistributed inside each governorate.
For instance, Cairo had 48 seats divided over 27 districts. The new division for Cairo has 24 districts. However, the total number of seats for the capital is currently 49, after one more seat was added to the constituency of Ain Shams.
Rabie said he did not expect that major changes in proportional representation would take place, or that the remaining two laws will improve much, due to “political flaws”.
Moreover, when asked about expectations on when the rest of the two laws would be passed, Secretary-General of Al-Karama Party Abdel Aziz Al-Hosseiny told Al-Ghad Al-Araby channel Friday: “I don’t know but a year ago in June 2014, we were asking exactly the same question. At the end, laws did not represent us and it felt like a waste of time.”
Political parties had submitted their suggestions to the government under the “unified project”, yet some criticised the lack of sincerity in social dialogue by the state. Moreover, politicians had split views regarding the government’s introduction of a new law that would “grant immunity” to the next parliament form dissolution by the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC).
As for political parties, some are yet to hold their own internal elections, having postponed more than once due to the expectations of parliamentary elections, like Al-Dostour Party.
According to report issued last week by NGO Maat for Peace, observing the performance of political parties between 15 and 25 June, in holy month of Ramadan, political parties were more involved with society, fieldwork and direct communication with the people, especially the less privileged.
“This was partly due to the fact that they become less concerned with having media presence, where drama series are stronger than politics [during Ramadan],” the report clarified. Moreover, several political parties saw that time period as a chance to politically educate party members.
Moreover, the report stated those parties “were building voters’ databases in the streets”, by providing some social services, such as free distribution of food and medical supplies, blood donation campaigns, sports activities, and so on.
The Al-Nour Party, Future of the Nation, Free Egyptians Party (FEP), Egyptian Social Democratic Party, Al-Wafd, and Al-Taggammu Party were all featured in the report.