The High Electoral Commission announced that parliamentary elections, scheduled to begin in March 2015, have been postponed after the Supreme Constitutional Court determined the Elections Constituency Division Law to be unconstitutional. The court rejected challenges filed against two other related laws, the Law of the Exercise of Political Rights and the Parliamentary Elections Law, also issued in 2014.
Egypt will hold parliamentary elections in March and April of 2015, over a year since the announcement of Egypt’s transitional roadmap in July 2013. The upcoming vote will mark Egypt’s seventh election since the January 2011 revolution that unseated long-time former president Hosni Mubarak. Egypt has been without a parliament since it was dissolved by the Supreme Constitutional Court in 2012, with all legislative power resting with the president until a parliament reconvenes.
Voting will be conducted in two stages, with fourteen governorates voting on March 22 and 23 (March 21–22 for expatriates) and 11 remaining governorates, including Cairo, voting on April 26 and 27 (April 25–26 for expatriates). Egypt’s new parliament will include 567 members, with 420 independents, 120 elected from party lists, and 27 presidential appointees. There will also be 56 seats reserved for women, 24 for Coptic Christians, 16 seats for youth, and 8 for individuals with disabilities. An estimated 54 million Egyptians are registered and eligible to vote.
There will be numerous differences between these elections and the 2012 parliamentary elections held following the January 2011 revolution. First, voters in 2015 will be electing one legislative body, rather than an upper and lower house as they did in 2012. Second, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified a new voters constituency law in December, which created new voting districts, as well as a new electoral law, which reserves 120 seats for party lists and 420 for independents. In the 2012 elections, 332 (two-thirds) of seats in the lower house were reserved for party lists, while 166 (one-third) were designated for independent candidates.
There will also be a marked absence of Islamist parties following the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization in December 2013 and the dissolution of its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, in August 2014. The Islamist Istiqlal Party was also disbanded in September 2014 and small, remaining Islamist parties such as the Strong Egypt Party—founded by former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim al-Fotouh,—Al Wasat, Al Watan, and the Building and Development Party have decided to boycott the elections. The sole exception is the Salafi Nour party, which was deemed eligible to run after courts cited a lack of jurisdiction in a case which accused Nour of violating the constitution’s ban on religiously-based political parties.
Many liberal and opposition parties, including the Dostour Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance, the Egyptian Popular Current, the Free Egypt Party, the Justice Party, and the Bread and Freedom Party, will be boycotting the elections following the killing of activist Shaima al-Sabbagh by Egyptian security forces on the fourth anniversary of January 25 uprising. The Karama Party is not officially boycotting, but will only run candidates for independent seats. The Tayha Masr coalition—originally headed former foreign minister Mohamed Orabi—will also only run independent candidates due to its inability to formulate a competitive list after Orabi’s last minute decision to withdraw from the coalition and join For the Love of Egypt.
Finally, as candidates gear up for the race, there is an increasingly real possibility that the elections may be delayed. On February 22, the Supreme Constitutional Court’s Board of Commissioners, an advisory body, determined several articles in the House of Representative Law, the Political Rights Law, and the Parliamentary Constituencies Law to be unconstitutional. There have also been rumors based on quotes published in the press from unnamed government officials that the elections could be postponed to September 2015.
Following the February 19 deadline—which had been extended twice—approximately 7,000 candidates have registered to run for parliament with at least different nine different electoral coalitions.
The For the Love of Egypt alliance, headed by former intelligence officer Sameh Seif al-Yazal, emerged following the breakdown of Mubarak-era prime minister Kamal el-Ganzouri’s national list. Ganzouri reportedly stopped assembling his list following a January meeting between President Sisi and political party leaders in which Sisi suggested that the parties create one national list, which he would then endorse, to contest the elections. For the Love of Egypt includes many of the same names as Ganzouri’s list, including numerous former National Democratic Party (NDP) members, and will coordinate with the Wafd Party, which had first assembled its own coalition, the Wafd Alliance, and then unsuccessfully attempted to form a single national list following Sisi’s suggestion. Billionaire Naguib Sawiris' well-financed and well-connected Free Egyptians Party, which had previously remained unaligned, has also announced that it will coordinate with For the Love of Egypt.
The Egyptian Front coalition, which had been coordinating with Ganzouri, includes the nationalist parties the Modern Egypt Party, the National Movement Party, My Country is Egypt Party, and the Generation Party. The coalition, with strong ties to the former regime, was founded by Mubarak-era aviation minister and former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq’s party, The National Movement. The Egyptian Front also includes prominent individuals such as former Minister of the Interior Ahmed Gamal Eddin and former MP Mostafa Bakri. Though the Front’s inclusion of former regime members, as well as accusations that it is a resurrected NDP, prevented it from successfully coordinating with other electoral alliances, the Egyptian Front will be launching a joint list, “The Sons of al-Saeed,” in conjunction with the Wafd and Amr Moussa’s Conference Party to contest seats in Upper Egypt.
The Egypt Awakening coalition, assembled by university professor and prominent member of the Kifaya movement Abdel Gelil Mostafa, is a small coalition of leftist and revolutionary forces that have explicitly rejected both the NDP and the Muslim Brotherhood. This coalition will likely play a symbolic role at best.
The Independence Current, formed in 2012 as an anti-Morsi opposition alliance, has since reassembled as a pro-Sisi electoral bloc. It had originally backed Ganzouri’s national list and will now be running on its own. The Independence Current includes thirty six parties and forty two coalitions.
Just prior to the closure of the registration deadline, former Wafd coalition member Amr El-Shobaky launched a new electoral coalition called the Construction Alliance, but is unlikely to win a significant number of votes. Other small coalitions include the Social Justice Coalition, the Popular Long Live Egypt Coalition, Nidaa Masr, and the 20/30 Alliance.
The Salafi al Nour Party has not joined a coalition.