Holding parliamentary polls has become a complex issue once again. On 26 May, the High Constitutional Court (HCC) declared 13 articles of two draft laws regulating elections – which had been approved by the Shura Council, parliament’s upper house – to be unconstitutional. According to article 177 of Egypt’s new constitution, five political laws – including two laws regulating elections – drafted by parliament must be subject to prior review by the HCC. If the court finds any of the proposed legislation unconstitutional, it must be sent back to parliament for amendment. The HCC ruling throws a massive spanner into the works once again. It is the second such ruling in six months, making the holding of parliamentary polls this year a tall order.
The two draft laws in question – amendments to a law on the election and performance of parliament’s lower house (1972) and a law on the exercise of political rights (1956) – were approved by the Islamist-led Shura Council (currently endowed with legislative powers) on 11 April. Three days later, they were referred to the HCC for review.
Shura Council members had hoped that the HCC would vouch for the two laws’ constitutionality, allowing Islamist President Mohamed Morsi to set a date for Egypt’s second post-revolution parliamentary polls.
Shura Council chairman Ahmed Fahmi, who reviewed the HCC’s findings in a 26 May plenary session, had passed them on to the council’s constitutional and legislative affairs committee the same day for discussion.