The Egyptian Electoral Commission announced on Sunday that the long awaited parliamentary election will be held starting October 18-19. This, the commission said, is the final step in a process aimed at bringing back democracy that many critics say has been tainted by widespread authoritarianism.
Egypt has been without a parliament since a court dissolution of the democratically elected main chamber back in 2012. The then parliament was dominated by the now-banned Muslim brotherhood movement to which the toppling of former president Hosni Mubarak was credited.
The elections had been set for March but were delayed after a court ruled part of the election law unconstitutional.
The electoral commission also disclosed that after this first phase of election, there shall be a second phase on November 22-23. Egyptians abroad will vote on October 17-18.
The incumbent president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi successfully led a mass revolution that toppled Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. It is after this that the army announced a ‘road map’ to democracy in Egypt, the most populous Arab state in Africa.
The government has said that the election is a proof of the country’s commitment to democracy.
In the long absence of the parliament, president Sisi has exerted legislative authority to limit political freedoms. He has however introduced massive economic reforms in the country.
The parliament is expected to effectively check the actions of the executive after its institution.
The house of Representatives is made up of 568 seats with 448 elected individuals while 120 elected through a winner-takes-all policy with quotas for women, youth and Christians. The president may also appoint a number of people to the house, not exceeding 5% of its total makeup.
Hardcore Brotherhood supporters are likely to boycott the elections while others who initially supported the group but later became disillutioned with it during Mursi’s troubled rule could either vote for pro-Sisi candidates or other Islamists.