Factbox: Gearing up for Egypt’s Parliamentary Elections

Egyptians will head to the polls for the sixth time in the past four years, casting their ballots in the second parliamentary elections since the 2011 ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak. When will the vote take place? What kind of parliament can expect to be elected? What campaigning rules do candidates have to abide by? Find out more in this Q&A.

What is the timeline leading up to the elections and when will elections take place?

  • June 9: Interim President Adly Mansour issues parliamentary elections law
  • December 8: Electoral Districts Committee sends the bill to the cabinet for approval
  • December 10: Egypt’s cabinet approves the bill and sends it to the State Council.
  • December 15: State Council approves the law
  • December 16: High Electoral Commission approves the law
  • December 22: President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi approves the law
  • January 8: HEC announces parliamentary elections dates

  • Parliamentary Elections First Stage

  • March 21 – 22: Vote takes place abroad
  • March 22-23: Vote takes place in fourteen governorate (Aswan, Luxor, Giza, Minya, Qena, Fayoum, Assiut, Sohag, New Valley, Red Sea, Beni Suef, Beheira, Alexandria, and Matrouh)
  • March 31 – April 2: Possible runoff

  • Parliamentary Elections Second Stage

  • April 25 – 26: Vote takes place abroad
  • April 26 – 27: Vote takes place in thirteen governorates (Cairo, Ismailia, Port Said, Northern Sinai, Southern Sinai, Qalubiya, Daqahliya, Menoufiya, Gharbiya, Sharqiya, Kafr al-Sheikh, Damietta, and Suez)
  • May 5 – 7: Possible runoff
  • No date has been announced for the final results or when registration will open for candidates.

    How many eligible voters are there in Egypt?

    There are approximately 54 million eligible voters.

    What will the parliament’s makeup be?

  • For the first time, the parliament will have 567 seats (59 more than the 2012 parliament). 420 members will be elected via the individual candidate system, while 120 will be elected via party lists.
  • Party lists of fifteen will include at least three Coptic Christians, two workers or farmers, two candidates under the age of 35, one special needs candidate, one expatriate, and at least seven women. (Party lists in 45-seat districts will be expected to triple these numbers.).
  • The 120 party members must include at least twenty-four Christians, twenty-one females, eight Egyptians living abroad, and eight handicapped persons.
  • Twenty-seven members are appointed by the president. At least half of the presidential appointees must be women.
  • Members serve for five years

  • What does the electoral law stipulate?

    The electoral law uses a parallel voting system: 

  • 120 seats will be contested by parties, will run on an absolute closed party list system. This means voters are casting their ballot for the party rather than a candidate. It also means only lists that win an absolute majority (50+1) in each district will get all the seats, and all other candidates will be excluded from parliament. (2011’s electoral law used a proportional representation list.)
  • 420 seats will be contested by independents.
  • Independents can form their own lists, and members of political parties can run as independents.
  • The 420 independent candidates will be elected from 237 electoral districts.
  • Eighty-three districts will elect a single representative, 123 will elect two, and thirty will elect three representatives.

  • What campaigning regulations are in place for candidates?

    The High Elections Commission announced campaigning regulations:

  • Campaigning will begin when the final list of candidates is announced.
  • Campaigning will end at noon the day before the polls open (ie March 20)
  • Independent candidates’ campaigning budgets in the first round cannot exceed 500,000 Egyptian pounds.
  • Independent candidates’ campaigning budgets in a runoff cannot exceed 200,000 Egyptian pounds.
  • Campaigning budgets in the first round cannot exceed 1 million Egyptian pounds for every fifteen candidates on a party list.
  • Campaigning budgets in a runoff cannot exceed 400,000 Egyptian pounds for every fifteen candidates on a party list.
  • Candidates can receive donations from Egyptian citizens or parties but each donation cannot exceed five percent of the campaigning budget.
  • Candidates can use mass media for campaigning.
  • According to the roadmap established after the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, the door should open for candidacy applications on February 13 (one month after the announcement), but the HEC said registration would begin sooner.

  • Who can observe the elections?

  • The HEC issued regulations for NGOs who wish to monitor elections. Human rights and democracy promotion NGOs will be allowed to monitor the elections. NGOs must have a “good reputation, be credible for neutrality and transparency and also have previous experience in observing elections.”
  • Representatives from local organizations must be registered voters, and have “no previous conviction for a felony or crime related to honesty or honor.”
  • Monitors can observe procedures for listing candidates, distribution of electoral material, the casting and counting of votes, and the announcement of results.
  • Representatives can remain inside polling stations for up to 30 minutes.  
  • Registration to monitor the elections is open from January 12 to January 21.
  • Who will observe the elections?

  • Few announcements have been made about organizations monitoring the elections. The European Union was among the first to announce that, unlike during the presidential elections, they will not be sending a full electoral mission to observe the parliamentary elections. The EU will instead be sending a smaller expert mission. Typically, EU expert missions do not conduct direct observation and do not deliver public statements or press releases. Instead, they are technical teams that analyse all phases of the electoral cycle. A technical document is provided to EU institutions and member states.
  • The Carter Center, which closed up shop in Egypt last year, also confirmed it has no plans to monitor the elections.

  • What role will the parliament have after it’s elected?

  • According to Egypt’s constitution, the parliament (or House of Representatives) is entrusted with legislative authority, approving state policy, social development and economic plans, and the state budget. It will also exercise oversight over the executive branch.
  • Resolutions are adopted based on an absolute majority of members present. In the case of a tie vote, the matter is considered rejected.
  • Laws are approved based on an absolute majority of members present, provided at least one third is present.
  • Laws complementing the constitution (laws regulating presidential, parliamentary, and local elections, political parties, the judiciary, and judicial bodies, and those organizing the rights and duties stipulated in the Constitution) are passed based on the approval of two thirds of the members.
  • Every member of the House of Representatives has the right to propose laws.
  • The President has the right to issue or object to laws. If the President objects to an approved draft law, it must be referred back to the parliament. If it is again approved by a two-third majority, it will be issued.
  • The President may not dissolve the parliament except when “necessary by a causal decision” and following a public referendum. The parliament cannot be dissolved for the same reason twice in a row.
  • The parliament can withdraw confidence from the Prime Minister, a deputy of the Prime Minister, ministers, or their deputies.
  • The parliament can withdraw confidence from the President and hold early presidential elections upon a causal motion signed by at least a majority of the members and with the approval of two-thirds of its members.
  • The parliament approves presidential appointments of independent and regulatory bodies.
  • The parliament can amend constitutional articles. At least one fifth of the parliament must request the amendment. The amendment must be accepted by a majority of the parliament.

  • What has Sisi said about parliamentary elections?

  • During a two-day meeting with leaders from various political parties, Sisi called on parties to form a unified list. This was met with rejection from most political parties, including those who have voiced their support for the president.
  • He also announced that he has no plans to form a political party for fear of polarization, and underscored that the state does not support a specific party or coalition.
  • Next time, find out about the various coalitions, which parties have joined forces, and what is known so far about their electoral platforms.

    Image: Photo: 2011 Parliamentary elections in Egypt (Jonathan Rashad)