The Upper house of Egypt (Shura Council), dominated by Islamists, approved a new parliamentary elections bill on January 19. The law is too complex for a nascent democracy and too confusing for voters of whom about a third are illiterate. The new bill has provoked controversy, in a repetition of the experience of the controversial constitution draft, and is marking another cycle in the ongoing rift between Islamist and civil parties.
The bill adopts a mixed electoral system that is comprised of individual first-past-the-post candidate districts and proportional representation (party and independent) lists. Added complication is the provision that allows independents to form their own lists or be on a party’s list. Accordingly, the country has been divided into two different types of districts for the individual candidate voting and the proportional representation voting. Moreover, some seats must be reserved for “workers” and “farmers”.
More important, the bill is in favor of the best organized ‘Islamist’ parties but is biased against many segments of society, including Copts, women and Egyptians residing abroadAyman el-Dessouki