Politics of Egypt

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politics and government of
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The politics of Egypt is based on republicanism, with a semi-presidential system of government. Following the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, and the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, executive power was assumed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which dissolved the parliament and suspended the constitution. In 2014, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was elected as Egypt's seventh President.[1]

Presidency[edit]

Main article: President of Egypt

Under the new regulations of the March 2011 referendum, the president is limited to two four-year terms, with the Judiciary supervising the elections. The president is required to appoint a deputy, and a commission will draft a new constitution following the parliamentary election. Candidates must provide 30,000 signatures from at least 15 provinces, or 30 members of a chamber of the legislature, or nomination by a party holding at least one seat in the legislature.[2]

Following the convening of the newly elected People’s Assembly and Maglis al-Shura in March 2012, a committee was to draft a new constitution to replace the pre-revolutionary one, followed by presidential elections. However, the Egyptian presidential election, 2012 occurred without a new constitution. The military council, which took power in early 2011, promised a fair and civilian vote. The first round of the election took place on 23 May and 24 May 2012.[3][4] It was followed by a run-off on 16 June and 17 June[5] which Mohamed Morsi won. He assumed office 30 June 2012.

On 3 July 2013, the constitution of Egypt was suspended and Morsi was ousted from the presidency. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was elected in the 2014 presidential election.[1]

Legislative branch[edit]

Parliament meets for one eight-month session each year; under special circumstances the President of the Republic can call an additional session. Even though the powers of the Parliament have increased since the 1980 Amendments of the Constitution, the Parliament continues to lack the powers to balance the extensive powers of the President.

The People’s Assembly (Maglis El-Shaab)[edit]

The House of Representatives is the principal legislative body. Out of the assembly’s 567 representatives, 540 are directly elected while 27 may be appointed by the President.[6] The assembly sits for a five-year term but can be dissolved earlier by the President. All seats are voted on in each election. Four hundred seats are voted on using proportional representation while the remaining forty-four are elected in local majority votes. The Constitution reserves fifty percent of the assembly seats for ‘workers and peasants’, (although in practice the "workers and peasants" have come to be retired military officers and internal security personnel).[7]

The People’s Assembly may force the resignation of the executive cabinet by voting a motion of censure. For this reason, the Prime Minister and his cabinet are necessarily from the dominant party or coalition in the assembly. In the case of a president and assembly from opposing parties, this leads to the situation known as cohabitation.

The People's Assembly was dissolved with the abrogation of the constitution in February 2011. The first round of new elections is scheduled to start on 28 November 2011, the second round was held on 14 December 2011, the third on 3 January 2012 and the new assembly convened on 17 March 2012.[8] Nomination for the elections started on 12 October 2012. 70% of the 498 parliamentary seats will be based on the party list system and the remaining 30% through individual-candidate voting, according to official news agency MENA. "Egypt will be divided into 60 constituencies in accordance to the decree, 30 for the party lists system in which each list must include at least a woman candidate while the other 30 for the individual-candidate system in which the candidate shouldn't be affiliated to any political party."[9] The reservation of 30 seats simple majority seats for independent candidates is controversial.[8]

The Consultative Council (Maglis El-Shura)[edit]

The Shura Council was the 264-member upper house of Parliament created in 1980. In the Shura Council 176 members were directly elected and 88 members were appointed by the President of the Republic for six-year terms. One half of the Shura Council was renewed every three years.

The Shura Council's legislative powers were limited. On most matters of legislation, the People’s Assembly retained the last word in the event of a disagreement between the two houses.

The Shura Council was dissolved with the abrogation of the constitution in February 2011. After the 2011 Egyptian revolution, three round elections for the new 270 seat Shura Council started on 29 January 2012 and ended on 11 March 2012.[8][9]

The Shura Council was removed from the draft copy of the 2014 constitution.[10] The abolition of the council has been finalized with the passage of the constitution.[11]

Parliamentary elections[edit]

There were eighteen recognized political parties from across the political spectrum. The formation of political parties based on religion is prohibited by the Constitution. The official opposition and political pressure groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood, were active in Egypt and made their views public. They are represented at various levels in the political system. Prior to the revolution, power was concentrated in the hands of the President of the Republic and the National Democratic Party which retained a super-majority in the People's Assembly.

The November 2000 parliamentary elections were generally regarded to have been more transparent and better executed than past elections due to judicial monitoring of polling stations. Opposition parties continued to complain about electoral manipulation by the government, and many Egyptians felt their votes were monitored by poll workers, and could face retribution. There were significant restrictions on the political process and freedom of expression for non-governmental organizations, including professional syndicates and organizations promoting respect for human rights.

With the abrogation of the constitution in February 2011, parliament was dissolved.[12] Many new political parties formed in anticipation of running candidates in the Egyptian parliamentary election, 2011–2012.

Below the national level, authority is exercised by and through governors and mayors appointed by the central government and by popularly elected local councils.

Military Council[edit]

Following the 11 February 2011 resignation of president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt came under the authority of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, commonly referred to as the Military Council. It was headed by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. The council was intended to be transitional, surrendering its state powers to the president following the election in May. The council has considerable power and, according to at least one source, has unilaterally issued a constitutional declaration giving itself legislative and judicial powers to "basically decide what the law is."[13]

Political parties and elections[edit]

According to the Egyptian Constitution, political parties are allowed to exist. Religious political parties are not allowed as it would not respect the principle of non-interference of religion in politics and that religion has to remain in the private sphere to respect all beliefs. Also forbidden are political parties supporting militia formations or having an agenda that is contradictory to the constitution and its principles, or threatening the country's stability such as national unity between Muslim Egyptians and Christian Egyptians.

As of 2012, there are more than 40 registered political parties in Egypt. The largest are Freedom and Justice Party, al-Nour Party, New Wafd Party, Free Egyptians Party, Justice Party, Wasat Party, Egyptian Social Democratic Party.


e • d Summary of the 2011 election for People's Assembly of Egypt
Party Ideology Votes Vote % PR Seats FPTP Seats Total Seats Component Parties
Democratic Alliance for Egypt
(led by the Freedom and Justice Party)
Islamist -
Muslim Brotherhood
10,138,134 37.5 127 108 235 Freedom & Justice Party: 213
Dignity Party: 6
Ghad El-Thawra Party: 2
Civilization Party: 2
Islamic Labour Party: 1
Egyptian Arab Socialist Party: 1
Egyptian Reform Party: 1
Affiliated Independents 9
Islamist Bloc
(led by Al-Nour Party)
Islamist - Salafi 7,534,266 27.8 96 25[14][15]
or 27[16]
121[14][15]
or 123[16]
Al-Nour Party: 107
Building & Development Party: 13
Authenticity Party: 3
New Wafd Party National liberal 2,480,391 9.2 37 4 41
Egyptian Bloc Social liberal 2,402,238 8.9 33 2[14]
or 1[16]
35[14]
or 34[16]
Social Democratic Party: 16
Free Egyptians Party: 15
Progressive Unionist Party: 4
Al-Wasat Party Moderate Islamist 989,003 3.7 10 0 10
The Revolution Continues Alliance Leftist 745,863 2.8 7 2 9 Socialist Popular Alliance Party: 7
Freedom Egypt Party: 1
Equality & Development Party: 1
Reform and Development Party Liberal 604,415 2.2 8 1 9
Freedom Party NDP offshoot 514,029 1.9 4 0 4
National Party of Egypt NDP offshoot 425,021 1.6 4 1 5
Egyptian Citizen Party NDP offshoot 235,395 0.9 3 1 4
Union Party NDP offshoot 141,382 0.5 2 0 2
Conservative Party NDP offshoot 272,910 1.0 0 1 1
Democratic Peace Party NDP offshoot[17][14] 248,281 0.9 1 0 1
Justice Party Center 184,553 0.7 0 1 1
Arab Egyptian Unity Party NDP offshoot 149,253 0.6 1 0 1
Nasserist Party Nasserist 1 0 1
Independents Independents - - - 21[16] 21[16]
Total elected elected MPs 27,065,135 100.00 332 166 498
SCAF appointees non-elected MPs - - - - 10
Total MPs - - - - 508

Sources:Ahram Online,[14] Al-Masry Al-Youm,[15] Al-Ahram[16][18]

2014 Egyptian presidential election

Candidate Party Votes %
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Independent 23,780,104 96.91
Hamdeen Sabahi Popular Current 757,511 3.09
Invalid/blank votes 1,040,608
Total 25,578,233 100
Registered voters/turnout 47.45
Source: Ahram Online


e • d Summary of the 2012 elections for the Shura Council
Party Proportional representation FPTP Total
seats
Votes % Seats Seats
Freedom and Justice Party 2,894,922 45.04 56 49 105
Islamist Bloc 1,840,014 28.63 38 7 45
New Wafd Party 543,417 8.45 14 0 14
Egyptian Bloc 348,957 5.43 8 0 8
Freedom Party 84,936 1.32 3 0 3
Democratic Peace Party 95,273 1.48 1 0 1
Independents 4 4
Presidential appointees 90
Total 6,427,666 100 120 60 270

On 14 June 2012, the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt ordered the People's Assembly to be dissolved, citing irregularities in the election of members.

Civil society[edit]

Egyptians had been living under emergency law since 1967, except for an 18-month break in 1980, until 31 May 2012.[19] Emergency laws have been continuously extended every three years since 1981. These laws sharply circumscribe any non-governmental political activity: street demonstrations, non-approved political organizations, and un-registered financial donations are formally banned. Nonetheless, since 2000, these restrictions have been violated in practice. In 2003, the agenda shifted heavily towards local democratic reforms, opposition to the succession of Gamal Mubarak as president, and rejection of violence by state security forces. Groups involved in the latest wave include PCSPI, the Egyptian Movement for Change (Kefaya), and the Association for Egyptian Mothers.

Substantial peasant activism exists on a variety of issues, especially related to land rights and land reform. A major flash point was the 1997 repeal of Nasser-era land reform policies under pressure for structural adjustment. A pole for this activity is the Land Center for Human Rights.

The Egyptian Revolution of 2011, inspired by the recent revolution in Tunisia, forced the resignation of President Mubarak and the Military Junta that succeeded him abrogated the Constitution and promised free and fair elections under a new one.

Political pressure groups and leaders[edit]

Before the revolution, Mubarak tolerated limited political activity by the Brotherhood for his first two terms, but then moved more aggressively to block its influence (arguably leading to its recent rise in public support). Trade unions and professional associations are officially sanctioned. In 2014, in Upper Egypt, several newspapers reported that the region of Upper Egypt wants to secede from Egypt to try to improve living standards.[20]

Foreign relations[edit]

The permanent headquarters for the League of Arab States (The Arab League) is located in Cairo.The Secretary General of the League has traditionally been an Egyptian. Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil El-Araby is the present Secretary General of the Arab League. The Arab League moved out of Egypt to Tunis in 1978 as a protest at the peace treaty with Israel, but returned in 1989.

Egypt was the first Arab state to establish diplomatic relations with the state of Israel, after the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty at the Camp David Accords. Egypt has a major influence amongst other Arab states, and has historically played an important role as a mediator in resolving disputes between various Arab nations, and in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Most Arab nations still give credence to Egypt playing that role, though its effects are often limited.

Former Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali served as Secretary General of the United Nations from 1991 to 1996.

A territorial dispute with Sudan over an area known as the Hala'ib Triangle, has meant that diplomatic relations between the two remain strained.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "El-Sisi sworn in as Egypt president". Ahram Online. 8 June 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Commission announces proposed changes to Egyptian Constitution". Egypt Independent. 26 February 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "Egyptians vote in landmark presidential election". BBC. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Bassem, Sabry (20 May 2012). "Quick Guide: The lowdown on Egypt's presidential frontrunners". Ahram Online. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Egypt runoff presidential election kicks off sullenly". Los Angeles Times. 17 June 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "President Mansour signs into law parliamentary elections legislation". Ahram Online. 5 June 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  7. ^ Foreign Affairs magazine, September/October 2011, "Commanding Democracy in Egypt", Jeff Martini and Julie Taylor, p.127-137
  8. ^ a b c "Egypt elections to start on November 28". AFP. 27 September 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Egypt to hold parliamentary elections on Nov. 28". Xinhua. 27 September 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "50 member constitution committee eliminates Shura Council". Ahram Online. 1 December 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "Egypt constitution 'approved by 98.1 percent'". Al Jazeera English. 18 January 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "Egyptian Military Dissolves Parliament". New York Times. 13 February 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  13. ^ "Who Owns the Revolution? The Army or the people?". New Yorker. 1 August 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f Essam El-Din, Gamal (23 Jan 2012). "Egypt's post-Mubarak legislative life begins amid tension and divisions". Ahram Online. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  15. ^ a b c السنهوري, محمد (21 January 2012). "«العليا» تعلن نتائج قوائم «الشعب».. الحرية والعدالة 127 مقعدًا والنور 96 و«الكتلة» 33". Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g ممدوح شعبان وسعاد طنطاوي وعلي محمد علي. "النتائج النهائية لانتخابات مجلس الشعب". al-ahram. 
  17. ^ El-Din, Gamal Essam (22–28 December 2011), "Islamists consolidate their lead", Al-Ahram Weekly, retrieved 6 June 2014 
  18. ^ "Who are the non-Islamists in Egypt's parliament?". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  19. ^ CNN Wire Staff (2 June 2012). "Egypt lifts unpopular emergency law". CNN. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  20. ^ Gratowski, J. Thomas (17 February 2014). "Is Egypt Breaking Apart?". International Affairs Review. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Hatem Elliesie: The Rule of Law in Egypt. In: Matthias Koetter / Gunnar Folke Schuppert (Eds.), Understanding of the Rule of Law in various Legal Orders of the World: Working Paper Series Nr. 5 of SFB 700: Governance in Limited Areas of Statehood, Berlin 2010.

External links[edit]

General government sites