In a plenary session Sunday, the Islamist-led upper house of Egypt’s parliament, the Shura Council, currently endowed with legislative powers, approved that the House of Representatives — Egypt’s lower house parliament and formerly named the People’s Assembly — be increased by 42 seats, from 546 to 588. According to Hatem Bagato, the newly-appointed minister for parliamentary affairs, the increase was necessary to align to the orders of the High Constitutional Court (HCC) that stated there must be fair representation of citizens in the upcoming parliament. “The [HCC], in a report to Shura Council on 25 May, said the distribution of seats in the upcoming parliament was not made fair for seven governorates by the House law,” said Bagato, adding that “as a result, each of these seven governorates will be increased by six seats, [adding] a total of 42 seats.”
The affected electoral districts include the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, the three upper Egypt governorates of Al-Minya, Sohag and Aswan, the two Nile Delta governorates of El-Shariqya and Damietta, and the Suez Canal governorate of Ismailia.
Bagato explained that the redrawing of electoral districts and the increase in number of seats in seven governorates was promoted by certain considerations. “These include the distribution of population in these governorates and the geographical proximity of districts,” he said.
Bagato also indicated that out of 588 seats, two thirds will be elected via the party list system, while one third will be reserved for independent candidates. “The party list system will include 98 districts designed to produce 488 party-based deputies, while one hundred independents will be elected in 50 districts,” said Bagato.
The increase in number of seats of the yet to be elected House of Representatives is the third in one year. At first, the number was put at 498, then increased to be 546 and then further boosted to 588. The change in number of seats was introduced upon the orders of the HCC which is empowered by the new constitution with the right to scrutinise political laws on the basis of their constitutionality.