The pitfalls of Egypt’s parliamentary election
One of the issues currently on the table in Egypt is which electoral system to adopt during the next parliamentarian elections
My most recent article was on the importance of holding Egypt’s presidential elections before the parliamentary elections. But there’s another question on parliamentarian elections. Which electoral system must be adopted? A system of individual candidates or a system of electoral lists?
I once inquired: The Egyptians are asking; who are you? My question back then was directed at those who decided to hijack the Egyptians’ achievements and monopolize the results of those achievements for themselves and for those they considered to be political parties. Among the many statements I said was: “The Egyptians who took to the streets on June 30 did not do so in compliance with a call from these political parties that so far have no strength other than names (movement), (alliance), (strong), (unity) and their derivations (people and popular) and so on. These parties do not have the capability to mobilize dozens of people on one street. These parties have now (emerged to the surface), begun to impose their conditions, divide gains and achieve gains at the expense of the people who took to the streets to achieve change - at the expense of the people who did not know of the other people who are today attempting to wreck the fruit of the Egyptians’ revival.”
It seems the Egyptians’ fears and worries are justified. Unfortunately, news and rumors began to emerge on secret alliances between some parties and the Muslim Brotherhood or Islamic parties allied with the BrotherhoodAbdel Latif el-Menawy
Some leaders of the so-called political “parties” make public appearances and announce their conditions regarding the political process and specify what measures must be taken to implement the roadmap. These parties are in fact ruining the roadmap and emptying it of its goals but this doesn’t matter. What matters is that these small parties, which think they’ve become prominent parties, achieve small gains. No one has stood in these small parties’ way to confront them with the truth that they represent nothing of the people’s aspirations.
The next big question
One of the issues currently on the table is which electoral system to adopt during the next parliamentarian elections.
What system must be adopted? That of individual candidates, electoral lists or electoral lists based on proportionality? At an early stage, some parties carried out a terrorizing campaign, stipulating that the elections must be held according to the system of electoral lists. The problem here is that during the first phase that followed the June revolution, these parties attempted to garner quick gains and to link the Egyptian achievement to their presence and influence. But at a later phase, public opinion revealed that most Egyptians are worried that the Muslim Brotherhood may, in the next stage, be capable of infiltrating the parliament if parliamentarian elections are held according to the system of electoral lists. The Egyptians were particularly worried about such a scenario due to the extreme weakness of all parties and powers at the forefront of Egyptian politics. The 50-member committee did well when it transferred the article pertaining to the parliamentary elections to the president. The mov, which represents partisan orientations, seems to be pushing towards approving the system of electoral lists - even if based on proportionality. This orientation contradicts with the general orientation of the Egyptians. During the president’s meeting with different categories of society, the majority said it was in favor of approving a system based on individual candidates. I think the decision on which system to adopt must harmonize with this latter orientation.
It seems the Egyptians’ fears and worries are justified. Unfortunately, news and rumors began to emerge on secret alliances between some parties and the Muslim Brotherhood or Islamic parties allied with the Brotherhood. These parties’ “members” would thus guarantee the Muslim Brotherhood’s support during the parliamentarian elections and they will thus win and represent people they don’t know. In exchange for that, they grant the Brotherhood - which the people cast out - an opportunity to return to the political scene once again, despite the majority’s will.
What I am saying is based on information. I call on my fellow patriotic journalists to professionally look into this information and reveal it to the public. Holding the elections according to the system of individual candidates may not be the best of systems. I made here the list the defects of such an electoral system - such as the influence of tribes, family alliances, capitals, bribes and the weak representation of Copts. There are many points that can be brought up in criticism of this system but all these points can be resolved, one way or another. The important point at this stage is that holding the elections as per electoral lists requires a strong and influential partisan system - a system which I think Egypt does not possess at the moment.
This article was first published in al-Masry al-Youm on Dec. 23, 2013.
Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of “Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak,” a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy