A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Egypt: Election Dates Set; Electoral Laws Changed

Today Egypt's Supeme Council of the Armed Forces announced the dates for the Egyptian Parliamentary elections, beginning November 28, oner week late than previous leaks had suggested. There will be three rounds of elections for the People's Asssembly (Lower House), concluding on January 3, followed by three rounds for the Shura Council (Upper House), starting January 29. The People's Assembly will convene March 16, the Shura Council March 24. Thixs stretched-out calendar means that Parliament cannot begin the project of amending the Constitution before spring, meaning Presidential elections will be pushed into late 2012 if not later.

The SCAF decree also confirmed the Cabinet amendments to the electoral law which were pushed through on Sunday and which have provoked strong criticism from most political parties. These provide that two-thirds of the People's Assembly will be elected on a party list basis, and one third by individual constituencies, as opposed to half and half as previously envisioned. This is being criticized as strengthening the established parties and perhaps keeping the previous establishment in power,  while other critics are arguing that it will create a weak and divided Parliament, thus strengthening the power of the Military Council.,which some suspect of wanting to remain in power. (See this earlier post.)

Although after the fall of Mubarak, there were many calls to write a new constitution first (the route Tunisia has chosen), others urged quick elections. In the end we have neither: the electoral calendar is long and the Presidential elections are shifting well into 2012 (and some are hinting 2013). More time, some worry, for the Military Council to get used to being in power.

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