A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

At Long Last, Egypt's Parliamentary Vote to Begin

After a three-day holiday weekend in the US, I'm playing catch-up. The sixth and final part of my series on the attempt to take Baghdad in 1915 will appear tomorrow.

In a few days, Egypt begins the much-delayed process of electing a new Parliament for the first time since the post-Revolution elected Parliament was dissolved in 2012. The process is  complex one and will not be completed until the last round of runoffs in December. Critics argue that the complicated mix of individual consistency seats and part lists will limit the success of organized parties and favor local political notables and their patronage networks. While these are competitive, multi-candidate elections, the new unicameral Parliament, the House of Representatives (Maglis al-Nawwab), is larger than the old Lower House, the People's Assembly, and thus power is even more diffuse. The Upper House is gone. Combined with Egypt's strong Presidency, and the fact that the current President has been ruling by decree without having to trouble with a Parliament until now, it is difficult to predict how much power it will really exercise.

Though the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party are banned, the Salafi Nour Party, which won a plurality in the last People's Assembly, is bring allowed to run, but it may suffer from a backlash against religious parties generally. As mentioned, the elections are structured to disadvantage those running on party list, but it is still likely to be a more pluralistic Parliament than those elected in the Mubarak era. But that does not mean it will have more power.

As I said, the various stages and runoffs will run from this week into December, so there will be plenty of time for analysis by me and others. Some selected readings to begin the season:

MadaMasr  has a useful infographic of the various parties, coalitions, and alliance.

Two of the best Egypt-watchers in the business are Robert Springborg and Nathan Brown. Both have recent assessments of the Parliamentary  prospects at The Washington Post's "The Monkey Cage" column:

Robert Springborg, "Egyptian Parliamentary elections are just a sideshow in the Sissi regime."

Nathan J. Brown, "Why Egypt's New Parliament will be born broken."

An un-bylined Leader in The Economist, unsigned as always but I suspect Max Rodenbeck: "A Dud return to democracy."

Finally, on the Salafists and Islamists, Jacob Oldfort for The Washington Institute: "Fall of the Brotherhood, Rise of the Salafis."

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