Egypt: Parliamentary Poll Dates and Electoral Changes
Egypt’s parliamentary elections will now be held on November 28th, the first since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February. ”The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has set November 28 as the start of the first stage of the parliamentary election, which will be held over three rounds.”
This announcement comes after amendments were made to the parliament law “that increase the share of party lists from 50 percent to two-thirds of the seats, while reducing the number of seats in both houses of parliament.” However, the remaining third can run as individuals, a system which many blamed for the spread of fraud, vote-buying, and intimidation under Mubarak’s rule. Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy writes that the new election laws are “the largest setback for the country’s democratic prospects,” as they will ultimately empower the Muslim Brotherhood and the NDP.
Over two dozen political parties have rejected the new amendments, saying it allows the NDP and other large parties to dominate the elections. ”The amendments still don’t meet the demands of political forces, and cast doubt over the ability of SCAF to achieve these demands,” stated spokesman of Al-Wasat Party Tarek El-Malt. However, the Islamist forces in Egypt have welcomed the new amendments, but want to abolish individual candidacy.
Demonstrations are planned for next Friday, as many Egyptians are calling for a “million man march” protesting the SCAF’s emergency law. Political activists are “launching a campaign to strip the SCAF of its legitimacy” for extending the emergency law and obstructing the democratic process.
David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argued that the Army ultimately wants to return to their barracks, and that the Army is in a weary position as “it cannot routinely afford to take harsh action in policing Egypt’s streets — or in clearing Tahrir Square — because it risks alienating the Egyptian public, on whose goodwill its rule depends.” He also noted on the little influence the U.S. has had on the transition, as the SCAF does not want to follow orders from Washington as it would threaten its standing with the public.