Hopes for holding Egypt’s parliamentary elections this summer have become dim in recent days. On Monday, the High Constitutional Court (HCC) took the Islamist-led Shura Council (the upper house of Egypt’s parliament) aback by deciding that as many as ten articles of two draft laws regulating parliamentary polls run counter to the newly-approved constitution. The HCC decision has thrown a wrench into the legal ratification process and could complicate the process of conducting parliamentary elections this summer. The Shura Council must meet again to debate the HCC ruling, amend the laws and then refer them back to the HCC. “This must be completed in one week or before 23 February,” said Mohamed Mohieddin, an appointed Shura Council member representing the liberal Ghad Al-Thawra Party.
Mohieddin stated: “Article 229 of the new constitution states that procedures for parliamentary elections must begin within sixty days of the ratification date of the new constitution.” Mohieddin noted that the new constitution was officially ratified by President Mohamed Morsi on 25 December, meaning that the 60-day period “will come to an end on 23 February.”
There are serious doubts that the Shura Council will be able to meet the 60-day deadline. Amendments to Law 38 (1972) on the People’s Assembly and to Law 73 (1956) on the exercise of political rights were approved by the Shura Council on 19 January and officially referred to the HCC the next day. There had been high hopes among council members that the HCC would revise the two laws in a week or two, giving enough time to amend them and refer them to the president for final ratification and thus allowing the parliamentary electoral process to begin.