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Egypt: All Set for Parliamentary Elections 2011

This post is part of our special coverage Egypt Revolution 2011.

The parliamentary elections in Egypt are just around the corner. Beside it being the first parliament to be elected after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, this parliament will also be responsible for appointing the committee that will draft the country's new constitution which in turn will pave the way to the presidential elections later on.

The Election law

The People Council's (Lower House) elections will start on Monday, November 28, 2011, and will be in three stages – each for a number of the Egyptian governorates, with dates for second rounds of voting in case none of the candidates in a certain district receives the required number of votes.

The three stages and their second rounds will end on January 10, 2012, as shown in the table below and the results are expected to be out on January 13. Meanwhile, the Shura (consultative) Council (Upper House) elections (Upper House) will start on January 29.

Egyptian elections timetable

Egyptian elections timetable

The distribution of the seats in the parliament are a bit complicated and that's why on the official website of the parliamentary elections they added a special FAQ page, in order to help people understand the complex election system they are about to participate in.

The site notes [ar]:

يتم انتخاب ثلثي أعضاء مجلسي الشعب والشورى بنظام القوائم الحزبية المغلقة والثلث الآخر بنظام الانتخاب الفردي إذ يجب أن يكون عدد الممثلين لكل محافظة عن طريق القوائم الحزبية المغلقة ضعف عدد الأعضاء الممثلين لها عن طريق الانتخاب الفردي.
و تقسم الجمهورية لانتخابات مجلس الشعب إلى ٨٣ دائرة تخصص للانتخاب بالنظام الفردي ينتخب عن كل دائرة منها عضوان يكون احدهما على الأقل من العمال والفلاحين و ٤٦ دائرة أخرى تخصص للانتخاب بنظام القوائم.
وتقسم جمهورية مصر العربية لانتخابات مجلس الشورى إلى ٣٠ دائرة تخصص للانتخاب بالنظام الفردي، ينتخب عن كل دائرة منها عضوان يكون أحدهما على الأقل من العمال والفلاحين. كما تقسم الجمهورية إلى ٣٠ دائرة أخرى تخصص للانتخاب بنظام القوائم ويمثل كل دائرة ٤ أعضاء
Two thirds of the seats of the People's Assembly (Lower House) and the Shura Council (Upper House) will be elected using closed party-list proportional representation and the other third will be chosen using individual or single-winners voting system. I.e. the seats elected in each governorate using the closed party-lists are double of those of the single-winner seats.
For the People's Assembly, the country will be divided into 83 electoral districts for individuals, and two seats will be assigned to each district where one of them at least should be a worker or peasant, while 46 districts will be for the lists.
And for the Shura Councils, the country will be divided into 30 districts for individuals, and two seats will be assigned to each district where one of them at least should be a worker or peasant, while 30 districts will be for the lists with 4 seats in each.

During the previous decades, dictatorship and the centralization of the government in Egypt prevented the MPs (Members of Parliament) from fulfilling their actual role in the political system and created a huge confusion among many Egyptians who cannot really differentiate between the role of an MP and that of a member of a local council.

Alex News tried to clarify such difference here [ar]:

عضو مجلس الشعب هو من يقوم باصدار التشريعات ووضع القوانيين ومراقبة الاداء الحكومى ومناقشة الميزانية والمشاريع الكبرى للدولة وليس دورة الاهتمام بالجانب العمرانى كرصف الطرق و التى يختص بها “عضو المجلس المحلى”.
The MP is the one responsible for issuing legalisation and laws, monitoring the government performance and discussing its budget and major projects taking place in the country. And his role is not taking care of urban development such as street pavements which is the role of the local council members.

According to a poll made by the Center for Socialist Studies, some Egyptians do not trust the election results. However, they are still going to vote. Meanwhile, some others are calling for boycotting the elections in disagreement with the way the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) is handling the transitional period in the country.

Egyptians abroad

With an estimate of 8 million Egyptians living abroad, there has been many discussions about their right to vote. The current transnational regime has been claiming that have no problem with the Egyptian diaspora voting. However, they do not have the appropriate facilities and means to achieve this. Recently, an Egyptian court ruled that Egyptians living abroad should be allowed to vote at embassies in upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. Since then, it is not clear whether they will finally be allowed to vote or not.

Election monitoring

Meanwhile, many non-governmental initiatives are being formed in order to monitor the elections. U-shahid, or You Witness, is an Ushahidi-based interactive map for monitoring any violations regarding the electoral process. They have previous experiences in monitoring the previous parliamentary elections in 2010 and the the referendum the took place in March as well.

Another initiative is called Haraket Morakba (Monitoring Movement), who are looking for volunteers to join them:

@FouadZayed: If you are interested in volunteering to monitor the upcoming elections kindly check out this account @moorakpa #Egypt #EgyElections #EgElec

Campaigns

And finally, most of the candidates now have started their campaigns all over the country, and according to the law a campaign can go on for until two days before voting starts. Since then, we have witnessed controversial and funny banners, like the one of El-Nour (The Light) Salafi Party that decided to replace the photographs of women in their banners with a flower.

Sameh Hanafy mocked the banner here.

Also, another banner featured one of the candidates talking to himself.

This post is part of our special coverage Egypt Revolution 2011.

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