Egypt sets election date, first phase to start on 18-19 October

Mon 31 Aug 2015

Egypt sets election date, first phase to start on 18-19 October

Egypt's election commission has announced  on 30 August that a long-awaited parliamentary election will be held in October and November. The elections were previously scheduled for March and April but were delayed by a Supreme Court ruling saying that part of an electoral law was unconstitutional. The upcoming elections will be the first elections since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was elected to office last May after the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

The parliamentary elections
The election is said to be the final transition from military rule. The head of the election commission, Ayman Abbas, said that the first phase will be held on 18 and 19 October in 14 governorates  while the 13 remaining regions, including Cairo, will vote on 21 and 22 November. Egyptians living abroad will be able to vote on the 17 and 18 October and then on 21 and 22 November. The House of Representatives consists of of 568 seats, with 448 elected as individuals and 120 through winner-takes-all lists. There are also quotas for women, Christians and youth. The president is able to appoint a number of people to the house within a 5 percent limit of all the seats. A new parliament, according to Abbas, will be in place "by the end of the year". This year several amendments were introduced to three laws necessary to pave the way for new elections. Political parties have voiced strong criticism on the reforms saying they fell short of the reforms opposition parties had suggested. One of the statements made by different parties is that the electoral amendments make it “quite impossible for any political party to gain a majority in parliament”.

Sisi’s loyalists are favored to win
Analysts say the polls show that Sisi loyalists are likely to win the election. Critics point out that the victory of Sisi’s supporters is foreseeable because the main opponents, Muslim Brotherhood, have been banned. The elections are important to Sisi as he seeks to improve his relations with Western governments that condemned his overthrow of Morsi and are concerned over a crackdown on opposition parties. Yet they see him as a rampart against religious violence.

No government since 2012
Egypt has been without a parliament since June 2012 when a court dissolved the democratically elected main chamber dominated by the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, reversing a major accomplishment of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak. After the parliament was dismissed there were mass protests against the rule of Egypt’s first freely elected president Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.  The military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew Mursi and took over the president’s role. Sisi was later elected president in May 2014 and was wielded with the legislative authority in the absence of parliament.

Brotherhood supporters are likely to boycott
Muslim Brotherhood supporters are likely to boycott the vote while Egyptians who had supported the group lost trust in it during Mursi's troubled rule and could either vote for other Islamists or Sisi loyalists. The Brotherhood won nearly every election since autocrat Mubarak's ouster but has now been banned and its leaders face the death penalty or long jail sentences.  Since the overthrow of Morsi the military has launched a crackdown on the Islamist movement that has left more than 1,500 people dead and more than 16,000 in detentionMany have been sentenced to death, including Morsi.

Al Jazeera, BBC, Time, Middle East Eye, Daily News Egypt