Election 2011: The essential guide
Estimated population of Egypt: 85 million
Eligible voters: 50 million
Parliamentary system: two houses of parliament, the People's Assembly, the lower house, and the Shura Council, a consultative chamber.
ELECTION TIMETABLE: The ballot will be held in three stages, each including nine governorates. The People's Assembly elections begin on 28 November and end on 10 January. The first round sees voters in the Cairo, Fayoum, Port Said, Damietta, Alexandria, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Assiut, Luxor, and Red Sea governorates go to the polls. A run-off round will be held on 5 December.
The second stage begins on 14 December with a run-off on 21 December and includes the governorates of Giza, Beni Sweif, Menoufiya, Sharqiya, Ismailia, Suez, Beheira, Sohag and Aswan.
The third stage kicks off on 3 January with a run off on 10 January. It includes Minya, Qalioubiya, Gharbiya, Daqahliya, North Sinai, South Sinai, Marsa Matrouh, Qena and Al-Wadi Al-Gedid .
The first meeting of the People's Assembly is scheduled for 17 March.
Shura Council elections are also divided into three stages, beginning on 29 January and ending on 11 March. The same three groups of nine governorates will vote in the same order.
The first stage begins on 29 January with run offs on 5 February. The second begins on 14 February with run offs on 21 February and the third starts on 4 March with a run-off round on 11 March.
The first meeting of the Shura Council is scheduled for 24 March.
Composition of the People's Assembly: The People's Assembly will have 508 members, 10 less than in 2010, of which 498 seats will be decided by voters and 10 occupied by appointees.
Of the seats to be decided at the polls, two thirds of MPs will be selected on the basis of proportional representation from party and coalition lists. The system will operate across 46 constituencies which between them will return 332 MPs.
The remaining 166 seats will be filled by independents, standing in 83 constituencies, each of which will return two MPs.
Composition of the Shura Council: The newly elected Shura Council will contain 270 members, six more than the outgoing council. Two thirds will be elected, a third appointed.
Of the elected members, 130 will be from party lists, returned on a proportional basis by voters in 30 constituencies. The remaining 60 MPs will be returned by 30 constituencies on the basis of individual candidacy.
CANDIDATES: According to statistics released by the Supreme Elections Committee on 25 October 8,627 candidates had registered as independent candidates, 6,591 for the People's Assembly and 2,036 for the Shura Council.
In addition, 590 party-based lists have been registered for the People's Assembly and 272 or the Shura Council.
ELECTION CAMPAIGNS: Campaigns for the People's Assembly began on 1 November, following the Administrative Court's review of appeals filed against nominations. During each stage of the election candidates must cease campaigning two days before polls open.
MONITORING: The Supreme Elections Committee (SEC) is tasked with supervising and monitoring parliamentary elections from beginning to end.
Recent amendments to the 1956 law on the exercise of political rights state the SEC's five members must all be judges. They are headed by Abdel-Moez Ibrahim, chairman of the Cairo Appeal Court.
Under the law the SEC is required to ensure the entire voting process is supervised and monitored by judges. It selects polling and vote-counting stations, prepares voter lists, and regulates and supervises election campaigns. It is the SEC that is charged with ensuring religious slogans are not raised during the election. Individuals who infringe these regulations could face prison sentences up to 15 years, and a fine of up to LE200,000.
International monitoring: SEC Chairman Abdel-Moez has said the international observers are welcome to follow up, rather than monitor, on the elections.
Election expenditure: A ceiling of LE500,000 has been placed on campaign expenditure for independents and LE1 million for party lists.
MAJOR FORCES COMPETING:
- The Democratic Alliance: Led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) it also incorporates the leftist Karama (Dignity) and the liberal-oriented New Ghad (Tomorrow) parties.
- The Islamist Alliance: Includes four recently licensed, hardcore Salafist parties: the Nour (Light), Asala (Authenticity), Nahda (Re-Awakening) and Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya's Reform and Development Party.
- The Wasat Party: Formed by Muslim Brotherhood dissidents, the Wasat supports a moderate brand of Islam.
- The Wafd: Egypt's oldest political party, dates back to 1919.
- Kotla Masria (The Egyptian Bloc) Alliance: A coalition of liberal and socialist forces, led by the Free Egyptians Party, founded by billionaire businessman Naguib Sawiris, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the Tagammu (Unionist) Party.
- The Revolution Continues Alliance: Includes Tagammu off-shoot the Socialist Popular Alliance, the Egyptian Socialist Party, Egypt Freedom, Equality and Development Party; the Muslim Brotherhood off-shoot the Current Party and the Revolution Youth Coalition.
In addition, many members of the youth movements that took the lead in January's uprising will stand as independents.
NDP off-shoots: Although dissolved by judicial order last April, members of ousted president Hosni Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) have regrouped in the Horreya (Freedom) and the Egyptian Citizen parties, with yet others contesting the elections as independents.
Compiled by Gamal Essam El-Din