Egyptians voted on Tuesday in run-off elections for more than 200 parliamentary seats in which no clear winner emerged in the first round of polls, with candidates loyal to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi widely expected to dominate. Only a quarter of the electorate turned up last week for round one of the election of Egypt’s first parliament in three years, the final step on a roadmap that is meant to lead Egypt to democracy but which critics say has been undermined by widespread repression. Egypt’s last parliament, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected in 2011-12 in the first election after the popular uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. It was dissolved by a court in July 2012.
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.
Egypt will hold a long-awaited parliamentary election, starting on Oct. 18-19, the election commission said on Sunday, the final step in a process to bring back democracy that critics say has been tainted by widespread repression. Egypt has been without a parliament since June 2012 when a court dissolved the democratically elected main chamber, dominated by the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, reversing a major accomplishment of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The election had been due to begin in March but was delayed after a court ruled part of the election law unconstitutional. A second round of voting in the two-phase election will take place on Nov. 22-23, the election commission told a news conference. Voting for Egyptians abroad will take place on Oct. 17-18.
Egypt announced Thursday that the nation’s long-delayed parliament elections will start in March and that the voting will be staggered over seven weeks — the final step in a political roadmap put in place by the military after its ouster of the country’s first democratically elected president. The chief of the Supreme Election Committee, Ayman Abbas, said the voting will take place in phases in Egypt’s 27 provinces and among Egyptians living abroad. Egypt has been mired in turmoil since the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The country has been without a legislature for more than two years, after its last elected house was dissolved by a 2012 court ruling. Legislative powers have lately resided in the hands of new President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, elected in June 2014.
Since the ouster of long-time dictator Zine El Abedine Ben Ali in 2011, Tunisia has been the bellwether for the revolutions that have rocked the Middle East. Three years into their revolution, Tunisians stand at a crossroads: a choice between “protecting” the revolution and sacrificing some revolutionary gains for the sake of stability. Last month’s presidential elections are, in the eyes of many hopeful Tunisians, the capstone to a tumultuous period of post-revolutionary instability. Over twenty candidates ran in the first round elections, but to many external observers and Tunisians it was a race between two candidates that embody the fierce debate occurring within the country. In one camp is the establishment candidate: Beji Caid Essebsi. A remnant of not only Ben Ali’s government but the government of his predecessor Habib Bourgiba, Essebsi has campaigned on providing Tunisians with a modicum of security after three years of uncertainty.
On Nov. 29, Bahrain concluded its first full legislative election since the Persian Gulf kingdom’s popular uprising began in February 2011. The main controversy both before and after the vote has turned on the question of participation by the main opposition Shiite bloc al-Wefaq, whose 18 members of parliament resigned en masse from the 40-seat lower house in the early days of the uprising over the state’s deadly response to mass demonstrations. The group has remained on the political sidelines ever since, helping to organize a continuing if steadily weakening protest movement. In the end, al-Wefaq opted to continue its electoral boycott, having secured no meaningful political concessions to offer its increasingly disillusioned constituents as justification for rejoining what remains in any case a largely impotent parliament. Thus loath to return to the status quo ante after nearly four years of bitter struggle, al-Wefaq’s decision to abstain from the 2014 vote was made difficult only by concerted governmental (as well as Western diplomatic) pressure, including the threat of wholesale dissolution stemming from an ongoing court case brought by the Minister of Justice Khalid bin Ali al-Khalifa.
A lawsuit asking to delay Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections has left the country’s political forces taken aback amid a scramble to form alliances before the expected polls. The suit – filed by former independent MP and businessman Hamdy El-Fakharany with Cairo’s Administrative Justice Court – argues that the polls, scheduled for later this year, must be delayed for a year or even more. “This one year delay is necessary until security forces are strong enough to safeguard candidates and election campaigns against any possible terrorist attacks,” said El-Fakharany’s lawsuit, adding that “the group of the Muslim Brotherhood … could exploit the polls to attack its arch rivals – including the candidates of political secular forces, non-Islamist independents and even the ultraconservative Nour Party – with the objective of dragging the country into a Syrian-style civil war.” In an interview with a private television channel last week, El-Fakharany said that “the number of candidates in the coming parliamentary polls could surge to as high as 60,000 and in which case the Muslim Brotherhood could exploit election campaigns and tours to explode bombs, mount acts of terrorism and sabotage and kill its political opponents.”
On June 25, Libyans went to the polls to elect a new 200-seat Council of Deputies that would replace the General National Congress. Three years after Libya’s revolution overthrew Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, the country’s security continues to deteriorate, and its economy has been crippled by endless protests at its oil facilities. The ruling Congress, whose mandate expired in February but which has continued to limp along until these latest elections, became so dysfunctional that many of its members simply stopped attending meetings. Most Libyans feel their politicians have failed to deliver basic government. As such, many hoped the elections would offer the promise of a much-needed new start and help salvage the country’s ailing transition. But these elections may not usher in a new era. Libya’s political institutions have proved weak and ineffectual, and there is little to suggest that the new ruling body will be any different. Moreover, the struggle between liberal and Islamist political forces, which left the Congress paralyzed and prompted calls for its dissolution, continues to play out in the country.
Egypt’s former military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi was officially declared the next president Tuesday, winning elections to replace the Islamist leader he removed from the post last year. The Election Commission announced the results of last week’s election, saying al-Sisi won a landslide victory with 96.9 percent of the vote, with turnout of 47.45 percent. Al-Sisi garnered 23.78 million votes, while his sole rival, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, got 318,000 — lower than the 1.4 million invalid ballots cast in the polling. After the announcement, several hundred people gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square set off fireworks, cheered and sang pro-military songs.
Egypt’s election commission said Sunday only two presidential hopefuls, one of them the powerful former military chief who nine months ago ousted the country’s first democratically elected leader, have submitted their papers to run in next month’s polls. With only two people — former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi — vying for the country’s top post, the race is certain to be dramatically different from Egypt’s 2012 presidential vote, when 13 candidates of all political stripes competed in a heated campaign. Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist from the Muslim Brotherhood, won that race, defeating a former general in a runoff to become Egypt’s first democratically elected president. Just over a year later, the military removed Morsi from office following mass protests calling for his ouster.
Egypt’s military-backed government reversed field, saying it would conduct presidential elections before a parliamentary vote, officials said. The next leader looks increasingly likely to be the military’s chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who was promoted to field marshal Monday and has indicated he was mulling a bid, several media outlets reported. The decision Sunday to flip the elections and parliamentary vote changes the electoral schedule set by the military after it ousted President Mohammed Morsi in July, putting the nation’s next leader in a position to sway voters toward parliamentary candidates he supports, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Egypt’s military-backed government said it would hold presidential elections before a parliamentary vote, a reversal that stands to give the next president considerable legislative authority. That next leader looks increasingly likely to be the military’s chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who has indicated he is considering a bid for the nation’s highest office, buoyed by massive popular and political support. Few other potential candidates have emerged. Sunday’s decision changes the electoral schedule set by the military after it ousted Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, in July. The new sequence will put the nation’s next leader in a position to influence voters to back the parliamentary candidates he supports. The decision sets the stage for more clashes with the Muslim Brotherhood, the now-outlawed Islamist group from which the deposed president hailed. The Brotherhood on Sunday called for more demonstrations.
“Egypt is the gift of the Nile for Egyptians and the gift of Egyptians to humanity.” Thus begins the new Egyptian constitution, which, according to preliminary results, was approved by 97.7 per cent of voters this week. The percentage of voters who didn’t read the full document probably also ranges well above ninety—in conversations with many Cairenes, I met only one person who said he had read the whole thing. It’s hard to blame the others. The constitution opens with a strange, rambling preamble that in translation stretches for more than thirteen hundred words, mentioning, in the following order, Allah, Moses, the Virgin Mary, Jesus, the Prophet Muhammad, Muhammad Ali Pasha, Refaa the Azharian, Ahmed Orabi, Mostafa Kamel, Mohamed Farid, Saad Zaghloul, Mostafa el-Nahhas, Talaat Harb, and Gamal Abdel Nasser. The Nile inundates three of the first six sentences. It’s a preamble to everything—not just the constitution but human civilization itself: “In the outset of history, the dawn of human consciousness arose and shone forth in the hearts of our great ancestors, whose goodwill banded together to found the first central State that regulated and organized the life of Egyptians on the banks of the Nile.”
The military-backed government portrayed a two-day referendum to amend the constitution that ended on Wednesday as an endorsement of its legitimacy. The draft constitution is expected to be approved following a well-financed “yes” campaign promoted by the government, businessmen and liberal political parties. Ehab Badawy, the spokesman for the interim president, Adly Mansour, wrote in an email Wednesday that millions had voted to demonstrate their “belief in democracy.” The referendum was boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leaders were arrested after the July ouster of their leader, Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
Just over a year ago, Egyptians living abroad voted in a referendum on a new constitution put forward by an elected Muslim Brotherhood-led government, which was ousted by the army last July following a period of violent unrest. Starting on January 8, thousands of people are expected to visit Egyptian embassies worldwide to cast ballots on another draft constitution. This one is supported by Egypt’s military-backed interim government, which – by banning Islamist parties and scrapping parts of the former government’s legislation – reflects the shift in power in Egypt. Expatriates will be able to vote until January 12, ahead of the referendum at home which is slated for January 14-15. “It’s essential that everyone votes in this referendum, whatever their vote may be,” said Sabry Fahmy, an Egyptian who lives in Doha, Qatar. “Whether it’s in favour of or against the constitution, your vote must be made. For us abroad, taking part in these polls has been one of our main gains from this saga.” About 2.7 million Egyptians live outside the country, according to the International Organisation on Migration, but other reports peg the figure far higher – closer to eight million.
Egypt’s government is likely to call a presidential election before parliamentary polls, officials said on Monday, rearranging the political timetable in a way that could see army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi elected head of state by April. Parliamentary elections were supposed to happen first under the roadmap unveiled after the army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July after mass protests against his rule. But critics have campaigned for a change, saying the country needs an elected leader to direct government at a time of economic and political crisis and to forge a political alliance before a potentially divisive parliamentary election.
Mauritania’s ruling Union for the Republic Party (UPR) has won a ruling majority in parliament after a second round of legislative elections, issued results show. The UPR party entered Saturday’s election with a secured victory in the November 23 first round after a boycott by several opposition parties – who insisted that they would not be fair – in the mainly Muslim republic, a former French colony on the west coast of the Sahara desert. According to Sunday’s results, which decided an outstanding 26 seats, the UPR held 74 seats in the 147-member National Assembly.
Egypt’s political transition was pitched into uncertainty on Sunday when a draft constitution was amended to allow a presidential election to be held before parliamentary polls, indicating a potential change in the army’s roadmap. The roadmap unveiled when Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July said a parliamentary election should take place before the presidential one. But the draft finalized on Sunday by the 50-member constituent assembly avoids saying which vote should happen first, leaving the decision up to President Adly Mansour. “Now we have approved the draft,” Amr Mussa, the head of the 50-member constitution-drafting panel, announced on live television. “The draft will be given to (interim president) Adly Mansour on Tuesday,” he said, adding: “Long live Egypt.” The draft also says the “election procedures” must start within six months of the constitution’s ratification, meaning Egypt may not have an elected president and parliament until the second half of next year.
Kuwait: Crisis-weary Kuwait limps toward parliamentary elections with implications for nation, region | The Washington Post
From boycotting ballots to storming parliament, each time Kuwait heads into parliamentary elections the backstory seems to overshadow the vote. Yet the revolving-door series of elections could have an impact not only on this tiny, oil-rich state, but also on fellow nations in the Gulf and the rest of the region. For the election Saturday to pick a new 50-seat parliament — the most empowered elected political body in the Gulf — there might be another boycott, but the real question is whether the vote will ease the internal pressures on Kuwait’s Western-backed ruling dynasty. The challenges come from an emboldened opposition that includes groups ideologically linked to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood on the one hand, and on the other, liberals angered by crackdowns such as prison sentences over social media posts.
Egypt’s interim rulers issued a elections timetable in efforts to drag the country out of crisis that has claimed 51 lives in protest action. The streets of Cairo were quiet on Tuesday, but Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement called for more protests later in the day, raising the risk of further violence. Under pressure to restore democracy quickly, Adli Mansour, the judge named head of state by the army when it brought down Morsi last week, decreed overnight that a parliamentary vote would be held in about six months. That would be followed by a presidential election.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has rejected a timetable for new elections laid out by interim president Adly Mansour, saying it is illegitimate. The Tamarod protest movement has said it was not consulted on the election plan and has asked to see Mr Mansour. Meanwhile, ex-finance minister Hazem el-Beblawi has been named interim prime minister, and opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei vice president. It follows the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi by the army last week.
A spokesman of interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour says the Muslim Brotherhood can run candidates in the upcoming elections that are supposed to be held according to the military’s roadmap. “We extend our hand to everyone, everyone is a part of this nation,” Mansour’s media advisor, Ahmed al-Muslimani, stated on Saturday. “The Muslim Brotherhood has plenty of opportunities to run for all elections, including the coming presidential elections or the ones to follow,” he added. However, many Muslim Brotherhood supporters were not ready to quietly accept the military’s decision to oust President Mohamed Morsi.
Egypt’s military suspended the constitution Wednesday and ordered new elections, ousting the country’s first freely elected president after he defied army demands to implement radical reforms or step down. Army chief of staff Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, speaking on national television in front of a row of prominent political and religious leaders, said the military was forced to act after President Mohammed Morsi had refused for weeks to set up a national reconciliation government. Al-Sisi said the chief judge of the constitutional court, backed by technical experts, would have full powers to run the country until the constitution is amended and new elections are held. Adli al-Mansour, the 67-year-old head of Egypt’s supreme constitutional court, is to be sworn in Thursday as interim president, state media reported. The army said the interim government would set the timetable for elections.
Egyptian Islamists and former members of the nation’s military voiced concern Sunday about the potential pitfalls stemming from a decision by the country’s top constitutional court that would allow members of the armed forces and police to vote in the nation’s elections. For decades, a long-running legal tradition in Egypt’s army and police barred soldiers, conscripts and members of the security from voting while in the service. The ban, which was written into law in 1976, was widely seen as a move designed to keep both the military and the security agencies out of politics—despite the fact that the country was run by former generals. The Supreme Constitutional Court said Saturday the ban violated the country’s new constitution, which stipulates that all citizens have the right to vote. The court also shot down 12 other articles of the election laws drafted by Egypt’s Islamist-led legislature, saying they too went against the charter.
Egyptian secularists and rights groups criticized election laws approved by parliament that allow parties to use religious slogans in campaigns and drops a requirement to put women candidates high on their lists. The Islamist-led Shura Council, the upper house of parliament and the only one functioning after courts shut down the lower chamber, yesterday approved a political rights law that dropped a ban on religious slogans. It was replaced by a clause that prohibits slogans involving “gender and religious discrimination.” The council also gave initial approval for amendments to election laws that could give women lower positions on electoral lists. The assembly’s Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee agreed that each candidate list should include at least one woman, without stipulating how high she should be placed. The previous version required at least one female candidate in the top half of the list.
My participation in Legacy International’s Legislative Fellows delegation to Egypt this week has included a great deal of discussion regarding what constitutes “true” democracy. The Egyptians we’ve met have used words including “true” and “pure” to describe the democracy we have in the U.S., contrasting our system with the political system that’s been built in Egypt since the 2011 revolution, which is widely perceived by Egyptians to fall short of “true” democracy. Yes, Egypt has held parliamentary, presidential and constitutional referendum elections over the past two years, but the legitimacy of the government remains in question. Egypt’s first post-revolution parliamentary and presidential elections were held before a new constitution was drafted, under election laws that were issued by the interim “caretaker” Egyptian Military-based government but later declared unconstitutional by Egypt’s High Constitutional Court. Egypt’s new constitution was written by a government elected under the unconstitutional election laws, a government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition to the laws under which the elections were conducted being declared unconstitutional, many believe fraud was committed during the elections, including ballot box stuffing and fraudulent counting and reporting of votes cast. In short, the government of President Morsi, the new constitution and the election process itself have been heavily criticized not only by non-Islamist parties and their supporters, but also by many who actually voted for President Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood candidates.
A government legal agency representing Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi appealed on Wednesday the court-ordered suspension of a controversial parliamentary election, a judicial official said. But Morsi’s office, which had earlier indicated that it would not appeal, immediately distanced itself from the move. An official said that there was “no going back” on the elections suspension. The elections, coming amid a surge of protests, strikes, and economic shortages, are the latest focus in Egypt’s long-running political conflict. The Brotherhood hopes elections will provide some legitimacy to Morsi’s embattled government. But Morsi’s government is also keen to show that it is not in conflict with the judiciary, a body with which he has clashed several times since he came to power last year. The opposition has meanwhile called for a boycott of the vote, expressing concern they may be fraudulent.
An Egyptian court will hear an appeal on Sunday against a ruling that led to the cancellation of parliamentary elections called by President Mohamed Mursi, the latest hurdle in Egypt’s tortuous political transition. A body representing the state said it had lodged an appeal with the Administrative Court against its ruling last week which canceled Mursi’s decision to hold the four-stage parliamentary vote from April 22 onwards. Mursi and his Islamist backers in the Muslim Brotherhood are keen that the lower house election should go ahead quickly, seeing it as the final stage of the transition that followed Hosni Mubarak’s removal from power more than two years ago.
Egypt’s election committee has scrapped a timetable under which voting for the lower house of parliament should have begun next month, state media reported on Thursday, following a court ruling that threw the entire polling process into confusion. Egypt now lies in limbo, with no election dates at a time when uncertainty is taking a heavy toll on the economy – the Egyptian pound is falling, foreign currency reserves are sliding and the budget deficit is soaring to an unmanageable level. The political crisis deepened on Wednesday when the Administrative Court canceled a decree issued by President Mohamed Mursi calling the election. It also returned the electoral law, the subject of feuding between the opposition and Mursi’s ruling Islamists, to the Constitutional Court for review.
Jordanians are voting in parliamentary elections boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood, which says the electoral system is rigged in favour of rural tribal areas and against the urban poor. The Brotherhood and the National Reform Front of former prime minister and intelligence chief Ahmad Obeidat are staying away from the polls, which opened for 12 hours from 04:00 GMT on Wednesday. An estimated 2.3 million Jordanians are eligible to vote at 1,484 polling stations, choosing from 1,425 candidates, vying for a four-year term in the 150-seat lower house of parliament. “So far, 125,000 have cast their votes,” reported Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh from Amman.