Thursday,20 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1254, (9 - 22 July 2015)
Thursday,20 September, 2018
Issue 1254, (9 - 22 July 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Setting the election stage

The cabinet has finally endorsed four laws necessary for holding parliamentary elections. Gamal Essam El-Din reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Transitional Justice Ibrahim Al-Heneidi told reporters that changes to four laws that open the door to parliamentary elections are expected to be ratified by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi within days.  
Al-Heneidi said the first three laws regulate the workings of the House of Representatives, the exercise of political rights, and the division of electoral constituencies. The fourth is a legislative amendment of the regulations governing the workings of the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC).  
The electoral constituencies law (Law 202/2014) was ruled unconstitutional in March, leading to the postponing of parliamentary elections scheduled to begin on 21 March.  
“The law, as approved by the cabinet, states that Egypt’s parliament will comprise 596 deputies - 448 independents, 120 party-based MPs and 28 as presidential nominees,” said Al-Heneidi.
“It also specifies that the 448 independents will be elected from 205 constituencies and the 120 party MPs from four constituencies.”  
Al-Heneidi said proposals for changes to the election laws submitted by the State Council’s Department of Legislation and Fatwas had been rejected.  
“After considering the opinion of security and administrative agencies the cabinet decided that the Council’s suggestion some constituencies be merged should be rejected. Proposals that some constituencies in Cairo be divided were similarly refused.”  
The only State Council recommendation accepted was the merging of the Upper Egyptian constituencies of Qaft and Qena.  
The law on the exercise of political rights (Law 45/2014) has been changed to allow Egyptians with dual nationality to contest parliamentary elections.  
The House of Representatives law (Law 46/2014) has been altered to set the campaign spending ceiling for party list including 45 candidates at LE7.5 million. Some political parties had demanded it be raised to LE20 million.  
Under the changes approved by the cabinet the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) will be able to rule on appeals filed against parliamentary election laws at any time.  
“Under the present law the court is obliged to issue rulings on election appeals within 25 days. This time limit has been lifted,” said Al-Heneidi.  
The change, he added, had been proposed by the SCC.  
“Judges, including former interim president Adli Mansour, complained that the time limit on election appeals placed a tremendous burden on the court.”  
Mohamed Al-Shennawi, a member of the SCC’s panel of judges, said there had been times when the SCC had been forced to issue rulings on election appeals within five days. “This places enormous pressure on the court’s judges. They lobbied hard for the amendment to free themselves from these time limits.”  
“The change will not impact the next parliament,” Al-Shennawi said in a TV interview. “In issuing rulings on election appeals the court’s board will choose a time that will not destabilise any of state authority.”  
Al-Heneidi disclosed that proposals seeking to make the coming parliament immune to dissolution were rejected.  
“A proposal submitted by political parties stipulated that if a parliamentary election law was ruled unconstitutional this should not lead to the automatic dissolution of parliament,” said Al-Heneidi. “It was rejected by the cabinet in its meeting on 1 July.”  
Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat, chairman of the Reform and Development Party, believes the change poses a threat to the next parliament.  
“It means that while exercising its duties the next parliament will constantly face the spectre of its own dissolution. Parliament will now spend its term at the mercy of the Supreme Constitutional Court.”  
Shehab Wagih, spokesman of the Free Egyptians Party, believes the elimination of time limits for election appeals is a positive step.
“It means those people addicted to filing appeals will no longer be able to delay the polls.”  
“The time limit permitted lawyers and activists to abuse their right to appeal to the Constitutional Court, disrupting preparations for elections,” said Wagih.
Ahmed Ouda, a leading official with the Wafd Party, also sees the cabinet’s endorsement of the election laws as a step in the right direction.
 “Although these laws fell short of our demands we are ready to contest the polls once preparations begin,” said Auda.
“The cabinet’s approval of the election laws at a time Egypt is facing a new wave of terrorism sends a clear message that the country will not be deterred from moving forward and completing its post-30 June political roadmap,” said Yehia Qadri, deputy chairman of the National Movement Party.

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