Sunday, November 13, 2011

Political Parties, Lists and things it would be nice to know about the Upcoming Egyptian Parliamentary Elections

Photo Credit Al Ahram online. Popular Socialist Alliance Street Party.
 Dear readers

A reader has made the excellent request that I try to assemble information about all parties and lists in one page. This page will be a running assessment of the state of political life in Egypt as the parliamentary elections approach. I will try to update it as frequently as possible. This information may be available in one place at the Higher Elections Commission. However, it is all in Arabic. So I am creating a database from the Egyptian press. I am reading the English press, and my students the Arabic Press.

When will the elections be held?

Parliamentary elections  for the people's assembly are scheduled to start on November 28th, 2011. Following rounds of elections will be held on December 5th, and December 14th.

My students and I think that this system of having some governorates vote first, and then others follow is very problematic. Governorates in later elections will observe the results of the Cairo vote, and then change their votes accordingly. The outcomes of the earlier votes will affect the outcomes of the later votes.

The Shura Council Poll will being on January 29th, and end on March 11, 2012. 

How many seats are up for grabs? 

There are 498 seats in the People's Assembly which will be decided by election. Another 10 seats will be appointed, making the total number of seats in the People's Assembly 508.

Shura Council will have 180 elected seats, and 90 presidentially appointed seats, for a total of 270 seats in the upper house.One question is who will appoint the 90 seats in the absence of a President in Egypt.

How do the election stages work? 

The first stage of elections will be held between November 28th and the 5th of December. It includes Egypt's most popular governerates, Cairo and Alexandria, as well as Fayoum, Port Said, Damietta, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Assiut, Luxor and the Red Sea.

How many political parties are there in Egypt?

As many as 55 political parties, (as of November 14, 2011) most of which were formed after the January 25th Revolution, will compete in the parliamentary elections.

How many electoral districts are there in Egypt? 

There are 46 electoral districts covered by the party list system, and 83 districts covered by the individual candidacy system. Source: Gamal Assam El Din, "Egypt's Opposition Slams Proposed Electoral Changes," Ahram Online, September 26, 2011.

How many candidates have registered? 

Over 15,000 candidates have registered (As of October 29, 2011). Over 8600 have registered as independents. 6600 have registered for the People's Assembly. More than 2000 have registered for the Shura Council.

What are the main Alliances?

There are four main electoral blocs, which span the political spectrum. Although Egypt does have a left, I believe it is inaccurate, in my view, to say it has a "right," as that concept is understood in Europe. It has a secular side and a more fundamentalist religious side.


Egyptian Bloc: Free Egyptians (Free Enterprise), Egyptian Social Democratic Party, Tagmmu Party (old school leftist)
The Revolution Continues: Socialist Popular Alliance Party, Egyptian Socialist Party, Egypt Freedom (Amr Hamzawy), Equality and Development, Egyptian Current, Revolution Youth Coalition


Democratic Alliance: (12 parties) Muslim Brotherhood, Ghad Party, Al-Karama (Nasserist)
Islamist Alliance: Nour Party (Salafis), Asala, the Salafist Current, the Construction and Development Party (Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya)

What are some of the other parties in Egypt?

Overview of Political Parties from The Arabist.

Map of Egypt's Political Parties

Overview of Political Parties from the Carnegie Endowment.This is by Marina Ottaway, a respected academic with a lot of expertise on both Africa and the Middle East.

The Emerging Political Spectrum in Egypt

Here is information about parties I have gleaned from Newspapers.

Unity Party (Hossam Badrawy/NDP)
Wafd (liberal/NDP)

Egyptian Communist Party (not running/boycotting)
Egypt Above All Coalition (Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi)
El Adl (liberal/free enterprise)
Democratic Front Party (liberal)
Horreya Party (NDP cover)
Egyptian Citizen Party (NDP Cover)
National Egypt Party (NDP Cover)  (60 former NDP members)

Note: The High Administrative Court in Mansoura, Dakahlia governorate, has banned all members of the NDP from running for parliament. The General Electoral Committee in the governorate should reject the nomination papers of any candidate who was a member of NDP. It is not clear if the ruling will apply only in Dakhalia or across Egypt. According to Reuters, however, on November 15, 2011, Judge Magdy E-Agaty of the Higher Administrative Court has overturned the verdict. According to the Daily News Egypt, former NDP members have set up at least 6 parties. 

Will Expatriates be Allowed to Vote?

Maybe. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf held a meeting this weekend (November 10, 2011) with several cabinet members to discuss whether expatriates can vote. They may be allowed to vote in Egyptian embassies abroad.

Who Can Monitor Elections?

Only Egyptians can monitor elections. International election monitors will not be allowed. The Egyptian Council for Human Rights has received 7168 requests from NGOs to monitor elections.

What Kind of Electoral System will be Used?

The elections will combine a list system as well as a single winner system. One third of the seats will be based on a single winner system. Two thirds of the seats in the People's Assembly will be elected based on the closed list system. For more on the list system, read here. The Book of Lists.

The number of candidates on each party list differs. Voters will elect a fixed number of party based candidates depending on the voting district.

North Cairo will elect 10 party based deputies. Nasr City will elect eight. Cairo's four districts will return 36 MPs from the party list system.

The city is divided into nine districts which will produce 18 MPs from the single winner system. 

When Did Parties Gain Recognition? 
The Nour Party (Salafis) was founded in the coastal city of Alexandria. It won official recognition on June 12, 2011. The Islamist coalition could win as many as 30 percent of parliament's seats.

Okay, I will update this as time allows. ~WMB

Updated November 14, 2011 4:00 p.m.
Updated November 15, 2011 10:00 a.m.; 4:35 p.m.
Updated November 16, 2011 11;04 a.m. 

Al Masry Al Youm
Ahram Online
Al Ahram Weekly
Al Jazeera
New York Times
Washington Post
AUC Today
Daily News Egypt
Carnegie Endowment

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