Egypt’s ongoing parliamentary elections – farcical in every sense, with a turnout so far of only 2 percent – are further proof that Egypt is witnessing the solidification of a quasi-authoritarian system of government, not a democratic revival. Most of Egypt’s new parliamentarians will be wealthy, elite, sympathetic to the nation’s current military president, and vehemently opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, which governed Egypt during a brief democratic transition in 2012 and 2013. In short, this will be a rubber stamp parliament, one that will serve as a tool for – rather than a check against – Egypt’s current president, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. Al-Sisi recently passed a new election law that effectively cancels out the influence of Egypt’s political parties. According to the law, nearly 80 percent of parliamentary seats will be allotted to individuals. This individual system, which helped Egypt’s former dictator Hosni Mubarak consolidate power in the 1980s and 1990s, privileges wealthy elites with ties to the Egyptian establishment, of which Al-Sisi is a card-carrying member.
Political scientists and Egyptian political activists have long considered the individual system to be a threat to Egyptian democratic prospects. After Mubarak was ousted in a 2011 uprising, new legislation was quickly passed privileging political parties rather than wealthy individuals. When Egypt’s first post-Mubarak parliament was elected in late 2011, nearly 70 percent of seats were allotted to candidates comprising electoral lists consisting of representatives from Egypt’s political parties.
Al-Sisi is unlikely to rely exclusively on the new election law to ensure a compliant parliament. Worried about how possible fractures within the establishment could affect his rule, Al-Sisi has already indicated that he wants to amend the constitution to reduce the parliament’s power. As Mada Masr reported last month, Al-Sisi warned Egyptians against the powers of the parliament. He said, “The constitution gave the parliament broad powers, with good intentions… But the country cannot be run on good intentions.”
Full Article: Egypt’s farcical elections | Middle East Eye.