Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1278, (14 - 20 January 2016)
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1278, (14 - 20 January 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Editorial: A new parliament to serve the people’s interests

Al-Ahram Weekly

The opening of the new parliament Sunday was an important landmark since the ouster of former president and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi on 3 July 2013. Right now, the political roadmap declared by Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, then defence minister and now president, has been completed with a new constitution, an elected president and an elected parliament.

More important, however, is that the parliament, as one of three main pillars of the state besides the executive and the judicial branches, is now in place for the first time in three and a half years. Egypt has a long tradition of maintaining an elected parliament, since the 1870s, and the current parliament was long overdue.

Hardly a week before Morsi took over as president, in June 2012, the Supreme Constitutional Court dissolved the only parliament elected after the 25 January 2011 popular revolution against then-president Hosni Mubarak. The court said the elections law at that time violated the principle of equality among candidates as stated in the constitution.

The 2012 parliament that was in office for only six months, was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Al-Nour Party, and was a major disappointment for millions of Egyptians. Islamist deputies gave priority to their own political agenda instead of seeking to improve the economic and social conditions of the majority of poor Egyptians.

Since then, Morsi, interim president Adli Mansour and President Al-Sisi have been responsible for issuing laws. They issued hundreds of decrees without any supervision by elected deputies representing the people. While some of these laws were much needed and necessary, many others required further discussion.

One of the first difficult missions awaiting the new parliament is reviewing the hundreds of laws passed in its absence within only 15 days, according to the constitution. Most legal experts believe that this will not be possible. Most likely, the deputies will approve all the laws issued by President Al-Sisi and his predecessor, Mansour. After that, they can go back to specific laws and suggest amendments that they deem necessary.

Those laws that need a thorough review by elected deputies include the investment law, terrorism law, civil service law and protest law, among others. Egyptians have taken part in two major popular revolts, on 25 January 2011 and 30 June 2013, in order to see progress in all aspects of their lives — political, economic and social. This will not happen without an influential parliament in place, one whose main tasks would be to issue sound legislation that serves the interests of the people, and to supervise the performance of the government, its spending and the achievement of its declared goals.

While critics might point to the fact that the voting turnout was markedly low, compared to the other elections that have taken place in the wake of the 25 January Revolution, the new parliament can restore the confidence of the public if it acts responsibly and devotes its effort to serving the interests of the people.

Unlike many previous parliaments that were formed following rigged elections under Mubarak, who remained in office for 30 years, there is no single political party that dominates the current legislative body. The so-called “For the Love of Egypt” coalition has been trying hard to build up a bloc of over 350 parliament members under the banner of “Pro-Egyptian State Coalition”.

However, the majority of members of this bloc are independents, making it more difficult to keep them under control and abide by decisions taken by the leadership of that bloc. This is the new reality, and deputies must think twice before determining the way they will vote in parliament because it will certainly affect their chances of winning a seat in the next elections.

Egyptians are now more aware of their rights and they will not accept or trust a parliament whose members look only to their own personal interests. The new parliament is welcome, but it needs to prove its credentials.

add comment

  • follow us on