Egypt: Draft Electoral Law Triggers Debate
A draft electoral law announced on Sunday by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has triggered widespread criticism from a majority of opposition groups including the January 25th youth coalition. The proposed amendments would require two-thirds of the seats in the People’s Assembly, the lower house of the Egyptian Parliament, to be elected by the individual candidacy system, and the remaining one-third by the party-list (proportional) system for upcoming elections in September. The proposed law also upholds the quota of 50 per cent of seats reserved for representatives of workers and farmers, and another quota of 64 seats for women. Mamdouh Shahin, a member of the SCAF, argued that “it is the job of the new parliament which will be entrusted with drafting a new constitution to decide whether the above quotas should be maintained or not.”According to reports, the reforms will also replace the interior and justice ministers with independent entities.
Those opposed to the reforms note that the individual candidacy system, used predominately during Mubarak’s era, will favor businessmen and the political elite of the old regime. The Jan 25 youth coalition has rejected the proposed amendments, saying it could allow the Muslim Brotherhood to gain a majority in the People’s Assembly. The Muslim Brotherhood favors the mixed system, but has said that it will support the electoral system that gains the most support from political groups. Others have argued for a system favoring party lists or with seats equally distributed between the party-list system and the individual candidacy system.