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 2012, Mohamed Morsi was elected as Egypt's fifth president but was deposed by army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who was subsequently elected as Egypt's sixth president in 2014.
- 1 Presidency
- 2 Legislative Branch
- 3 Military Council
- 4 Political parties and elections
- 5 Civil society
- 6 Political pressure groups and leaders
- 7 Foreign relations
- 8 References
- 9 External links
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.
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. It was followed by a run-off on 16 June and 17 June which Mohamed Morsi won. He assumed office 30 June 2012.
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)
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 (though the law is not yet approved by the president). 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 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. 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." The reservation of 30 seats simple majority seats for independent candidates is controversial.
The Consultative Council (Maglis El-Shura)
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.
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. 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.
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.
Political parties and elections
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, and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.
|Abdel Fattah el-Sisi||Military||23,780,104||96.91|
|Hamdeen Sabahi||Popular Current||757,511||3.09|
|Source: Ahram Online|
|Life in Egypt|
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.
Egyptians lived under emergency law from 1967 until 31 May 2012 (with one 18-month break starting in 1980). Emergency laws have been continuously extended every three years since 1981. These laws sharply circumscribed any non-governmental political activity: street demonstrations, non-approved political organizations, and un-registered financial donations were 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.
On August 15, 2015 President al-Sisi enacted a new Counter Terrorism Law, which Human Rights Watch claims "mimicks" language "already contained in Egypt’s decades-old Emergency Law". The new law gives the president, in article 53, power to take `appropriate measures to protect the general order and security` to confront the danger of terrorism or in case of an environmental catastrophe. This includes "the power to order six-month curfews or evacuations in defined areas, subject to a majority vote in parliament within seven days, or cabinet approval if parliament is not in session."
Political pressure groups and leaders
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.
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.
- "El-Sisi sworn in as Egypt president". Ahram Online. 8 June 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- "Commission announces proposed changes to Egyptian Constitution". Egypt Independent. 26 February 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- "Egyptians vote in landmark presidential election". BBC. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- Bassem, Sabry (20 May 2012). "Quick Guide: The lowdown on Egypt's presidential frontrunners". Ahram Online. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- "Egypt runoff presidential election kicks off sullenly". Los Angeles Times. 17 June 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- "Cabinet preliminarily passes law regulating electoral districts". Aswat Masriya. 10 December 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
- "Egypt elections to start on November 28". AFP. 27 September 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- "Egypt to hold parliamentary elections on Nov. 28". Xinhua. 27 September 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- "50 member constitution committee eliminates Shura Council". Ahram Online. 1 December 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- "Egypt constitution 'approved by 98.1 percent'". Al Jazeera English. 18 January 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- "Egyptian Military Dissolves Parliament". New York Times. 13 February 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- CNN Wire Staff (2 June 2012). "Egypt lifts unpopular emergency law". CNN. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- "Egypt: Counterterrorism Law Erodes Basic Rights". Human Rights Watch. August 19, 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
- Gratowski, J. Thomas (17 February 2014). "Is Egypt Breaking Apart?". International Affairs Review. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
- 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.
- Government of Egypt at DMOZ
- Comparison Between Ancient And Modern Egyptian Governments at Aldokkan
- Egypt at Global Integrity Report
- Egypt: A Nation in Waiting (Al Jazeera documentary focusing on past trends in Egypt's political history and protests.)
General government sites