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In 2015 Egypt has been in the final stages of the transition period that started with the 2013 ouster of former Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi. In 2014 the former head of the Egyptian Armed Forces, Abdel Fattah al Sisi, was elected President. In order to overcome the mass protests and chaos in the country, al Sisi introduced a roadmap to help the transition of the country. One of the most important steps of the roadmap was the introduction of a new constitution, drafted by a 50-member committee. The constitution was approved by a referendum in January 2014, although serious doubts over the fairness and the political climate during the referendum have been cast. In 2015 many former Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members have been jailed, sentenced and completely banned from political participation. Journalists have been persecuted on a large scale and media freedom has been restricted. Furthermore, instability in the Sinai provinces has grown, where insurgents are fighting the Egyptian army. As a result Egypt closed the Rafah border crossing with the Palestine Territories, but talks to reopen the border are ongoing.
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Parliamentary Elections 2015
Between 18 October and 22 November, , elections were held in two rounds in Egypt. These were the first elections after the 2014 constitution that abolished the old Shura council (upper house) and replaced the people’s Assembly (lower house) with the House of Representatives, that was elected during these elections. A total of 596 MPs was chosen. 5420 independent candidates and 600 party-based candidates representing 84 parties ran in the elections. 448 of the seats were assigned to the independent candidates and 120 to candidates on party-based lists, while president Abdel Fatah El-Sisi appointed 28 MPs. Of the MPs appointed by the president, 14 have to be women and all have to be independent from political factions. The election of party-based candidates is based on a ‘winner takes all’ system, that awards all seats in any of the four party-based constituencies to one party if they surpass 50% of the votes. Political parties formed coalitions in order to yield as many candidates as possible on the party-based lists, including the Al-Sisi loyalist ‘For The Love Of Egypt’ coalition, that was the only coalition to run in all constituencies.
The 2014 Constitution abolished the old Shura Council (Upper House), while the old People’s Assembly (Lower House) was replaced by the House of Representatives. The elections take place in two rounds. In total 596 MPs will be elected by the voters in the two rounds. 120 of them were elected through coalition based list, that participated in four constituencies. Their election was based on a ‘winner takes all’ system, that awards all the seats to one party if they surpass 50% of the votes. A further 448 independent candidates were elected, some of them backed by political parties. The final 28 MPs were appointed by the President. The MPs are elected from 205 districts. In the first round residents from the West Delta and Upper Egypt regions voted. In the second round residents from the East Delta and Upper Egypt regions voted. The coalition based list have quota for Christians and women. Of those appointed by the President, 14 had to be women and all had to be independent from political factions.
In the first round, held between 18 to 19 October, the voter turnout was 26.56% . For The Love Of Egypt managed to win all 60 party-based seats, while only 4 independent candidates were elected directly. During the run-offs for the first round on 27 and 28 October the other independent candidates were elected, most of whom were backed by political parties. Candidates backed by the liberal Free Egyptians Party won 41 seats, candidates backed by the pro-regime the Nation’s Future party won 26 seats, candidates backed by the liberal Wafd Party won 16 seats and candidates backed by the Salafist Nour Party won 8 seats. Candidates backed by the Egyptian Social Democratic Party managed to gain 3 seats. Of the 284 seats elected the first round, a record of 32 seats was secured by the 110 women running in the first round and 16 by Copts. In the second round, held between 22 and 23 November, the voter turnout was slightly higher at 29.83%. The For the Love of Egypt again managed to win all the party-based seats, gaining them 120 in parliament in total. Just 9 independent candidates managed to be elected directly, while the remaining MPs were elected in the run-offs. After the run-off the Free Egyptians party backed candidates won 24 seats, candidates backed by the Future of the homeland party won 17 seats, candidates backed by the Wafd party won 16 seats and candidates backed by the Nour party won 3 seats. In total women secured 87 seats in the 596 member parliament (6.8%), as 56 women on party-based lists and 17 independent candidates were elected and 14 candidates were appointed by the president. This marks a historic high number of women in parliament.
||Seats in parliament
|Free Egyptians Party
|Nation's Future Party
|Republican Peoples Party
|Egyptian Social Democratic Party
|Other (13) political parties
|No party affiliation
|Appointed by the President
Dozens of violations were reported during the campaigning and election day, mainly bribery. Various observer missions observed the elections, including the international-local Maat foundation. According to their spokesperson violations were reported in both rounds but “candidates were well prepared for the second round. They avoided repeating the mistakes of the first round, and used creative methods of bribery”. The Journalists against Torture Observatory (JATO) said they reported 104 cases of violations against journalists during the second round of elections. The most violations consisted of preventing journalists to properly cover the elections. During the election period a local Nour candidatec was shot dead in North Sinai. After the killing five candidates withdrew from the elections in North Sinai. There were more reports of violence being used against Nour candidates, as well as reports of intimidation of Copts. Overall, the rate of violence during the elections was in line with the level of violence during the rest of the year.
Presidential Elections 2014
On 26 and 27 May 2014 Egyptian voters could cast their ballots for the presidential elections. Because the turnout was low on the 26th, the government declared a national holiday on the 27th, which they had hoped would lead to a higher turnout. In the end, 47% of the country’s 54 million people, voted. This percentage is lower than expected. 96.91% voted for al-Sisi.
Egypt could chose between two candidates: former field marshal al-Sisi – he quit the army in order to run - and left-wing former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi. Candidates who run in the 2012 elections did not run this time because “the climate was not conductive to democracy following a crackdown on Islamist and other opposition groups.”
Sisi gained 96.91% of the votes. Despite his victory, Sisi still has to meet expectations of the voters who currently back him. This will be a difficult task, due to the amount of “poverty, unemployment and other social problems.” Al-Sisi is aware of this and said at the beginning of May 2014 that people “should lower their expectations for change”, Egyptians should not expect “instant democracy or rapid economic reforms.” He further argued that shared sacrifice is a necessary condition. For al-Sisi’s supporters these statements show that he is “a decisive man of action”, while his opponents argue that these “are signs of a new autocrat in waiting.” Sabahi conceded his defeat but said the official turnout figures were too high and were “an insult to the intelligence of Egyptians.”
The international community had some remarks as well. Democracy International (DI) said the decision to extend the election into a third day was “just the latest in a series of unusual steps that have seriously harmed the credibility of the process”. It also “raises more questions about the independence of the election commission, the impartiality of the government, and the integrity of Egypt's electoral process”, DI added. A team of EU observers said that, despite guarantees in Egypt’s Constitution, respect for the essential freedoms of association and expression “falls short of these constitutional principles.”
||Number of votes
|Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Constitutional referenda 2014 and 2011
On January 14 and 15 2014, Egyptians voted for the first time since the ouster of President Morsi in a two-day referendum on a new constitution. The new charter replaces the constitution passed under Morsi months before he was overthrown. It was drafted by a 50-member committee that included only two representatives of Islamist parties. The Muslim Brotherhood, however, was not represented. An Islamist coalition led by the Muslim Brotherhood called for a boycott and “civilized peaceful protests” during the two-day referendum. Many of Egypt’s secular opposition joined the protests against the government and the new charter. Nine people were killed on the first day of voting in clashes between security forces and those who opposed the new constitutional amendments. The Interior Ministry said 444 people were arrested during the two-day vote. On January 18, 2014, the Supreme Electoral Committee announced that 98.1 percent of Egyptians voting in the referendum approved the amended national charter, with a turnout rate of 38.6 percent. The new constitution will boost military powers, allowing the army to appoint a defense minister for the next eight years. It also allows civilians to be tried before military courts. It also stipulates that the military's budget will be beyond civilian oversight. Critics said the new constitution will strengthen state institutions that defied Morsi: the military, the police and the judiciary at the expense of the people. US-based Democracy International (DI), the largest international organization who monitored the referendum, expressed “serious concerns” about the political climate, which virtually guaranteed a Yes vote. “There was no real opportunity for those opposed to the government’s roadmap or the proposed constitution to dissent,” the statement noted, citing “a backdrop of arrests and detention of dissenting voices”.
The previous referendum dates back to 19 March 2011, one month after the revolution. Voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum on constitutional changes that included a restriction of the presidential terms from six years to four years and a limitation of two terms for the president. There would also be less restrictions for the nomination of a presidential candidate, and judicial supervision of the entire election process. The highest court would get the authority to arbitrate disputed election results and there would be restrictions on when the President can declare a state of emergency.
During the period between 1922, when Egypt formally gained its independence from the British mandatory power, and the revolution of 1952, Egypt experienced an era of relative political openness in which a certain measure of party pluralism was developed. The most famous party in this period was the Wafd party, which was founded in 1918 as an Egyptian delegation that pleaded for complete Egyptian independence from the British. In January 1953, all political parties were disbanded and a one-party system was officially adopted. The ruling party would be called the Liberation Group (1953-1956), the National Union (1956-1962) and the Arab Socialist Union (1962-1976), respectively.
In 1976, former Egyptian President Sadat called for the Arab Socialist Union to be split in three parts :the National Progressive Unionist Organisation on the left (later the Tagammu), the Egypt Arab Socialist Organisation in the center (later the NDP), and the Liberal Socialist Organisation on the right (now al-Ahrar, the Liberal Party). In 1977, a new law stated that parties should not be formed on ethnic, racial, geographical or discriminatory bases due to sex, origin, religion or creed. Two parties that did obtain legal status were the Wafd Party (now known as New Wafd) and the Socialist Labour Party. One more party , the Nation Party, was legalised in the 1980s, while the last 20 years have seen the creation of around 14 new parties, bringing the total at the end of Mubarak’s rule to around 20. This system has allowed presidents Sadat and Mubarak to claim that Egypt enjoyed political pluralism and even democracy, while at the same time it manipulated the system to ensure continued supremacy of the NDP.
After the fall of Muburak, many parties that more closely resemble this western model were established. Also, many former non-active parties came back to the political scene with renewed vigour. In total, over 50 parties and more than 6000 independent candidates have been participating in the elections.
Egyptian Social Democratic Party
Party Leader: Mohammed Abou El-Ghar
The Egyptian Social Democratic Party was founded shortly after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak by the merger of two minor parties, the Egyptian Democratic Party and the Liberal Egyptian Party. The party straddles a fine line between free enterprise and social justice. It advocates a civil state based on citizenship and social and economic rights are important issues. In the 2015 elections ESDP did not participate in any of the coalitions but backed independent candidates. Ahead of the elections the founder of the party, Mohammed Abou El-Ghar resigned from his position as Secretary General, citing a split in the group.
Party leader: Mohamed Rifat Al-Saeed
The Tagammu’ Party, or the Nationalist Progressive Unionist Party, was created in 1976 out of the left wing of the Arab Socialist Union. It is a leftist party which calls for the establishment of a socialist society free of exploitation. It believes in a class struggle that should be resolved peacefully and bases its programme upon the goals of the 1952 revolution. The most important goals are rejecting religious extremism; building the character of the Egyptian citizens; ending the state monopoly over the media; raising awareness of environmental issues and developing Egyptian industries. While the party once enjoyed strong support from the working class, professional unions, universities, and intellectuals, its influence among these groups has since waned. It competed with independent candidates in the 2015 elections
Free Egyptians Party (Hizb al-Masryeen al-Ahrar)
Party leader: Essam Khalil
The Free Egyptians Party (FEP) is a liberal party that was established after the 2011 revolution by Coptic businessman Naguib Sawiris. It participated in the 2011 elections, as part of the Egyptian Bloc along with the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the Tagammu Party, opposing the block of the Muslim Brotherhood. It gained 15 seats in Parliament, but soon took part in secular opposition movements against the Islamist government. It boycotted the 2012 constitutional referendum and supported the ouster of President Mohammed Mursi. In 2013 the Democratic Front Party merged with the FEP. In the 2015 elections the FEP gained 65 seats, being the big winner. It was part of the For the love of Egypt coalition
Nation’s Future Party (Hizb Mostaqbal Watan)
Party Leader: Mohamed Badran
The Nation’s Future Party was founded in 2014 and first participated in the 2015 elections. Nation’s Future has been supportive of the government and its leader Badran is considered a close ally of President Al Sisi. Among the political parties, Nation’s Future is considered a youth party as it attracts young voters and has a young leadership. Before its foundation, members of Nation’s Future campaigned across the country to promote Al Sisi’s transition road map and later on also Al Sisi’s candidacy for the presidency. In its spread across the country it has been able to capitalize on student unions. The party has expressed that defending the interest of the nation and state is their priority and that they don’t feel aligned with any political ideology. In the 2015 elections the party wielded both independent candidates, as well as some candidates on the list of ‘For the Future of the Nation’.
Party leader: Sayyid al-Badawi
The Al-Wafd, created in 1978, is essentially a continuation of the pre-1952 Wafd Party. It is a liberal capitalist party that calls for public freedoms and a maximum reduction of the economic role of the state. It encourages Arab and foreign investment, the liberalisation of foreign trade and the exchange rates, privatisation of certain parts of the public sector. Most of the Wafd economic ideas had been taken over by the former NDP. On the issue of political freedom and democratic reform, however, the Wafd is much more liberal than the NDP used to be. The Al-Wafd is often regarded as a strong opposition party. This is due to the legitimacy of the old Wafd, the possession of greater financial resources than other parties, and the several offices throughout the country. In the 2015 elections Wafd had the third most elected candidates, supporting both independent candidates as well as ten Wafd candidates on the list of ‘For the love of Egypt’.
Republican Peoples Party (Hizb al-Shaab al-Gomhouri)
Leader: Hazem Omar
The Republican Peoples Party (RPP) was established in 2012 by political actors opposed to the Islamic government. It has ties to former members of the Mubarak era National Democratic Party. Before its official recognition, it merged with other parties to form the Conference Party, as an alternative to both the Militaries growing power and the Islamist government. It later broke away. Ideologically, the RPP is close to Mubarak’s politics of liberalization of the economy as well as a focus on social services such as healthcare. During the 2015 elections the RPP won 13 seats., The party has publically attacked the ‘For the Love of Egypt’ coalition.
Party Leader: Emad Abdel Ghaffour
Al-Nour is a Salafi political party founded after the January 2011 uprising. Salafism is an orthodox branch of Islam which sees the first generations of the followers of the prophet Muhammad as examples for how all aspects of life should be organized. The party advocates gradual reform under the slogan: “The only reform we desire is the reform we can achieve.” This slogan is based on a view of the principles of Islam as a comprehensive framework for religion and state. In the 2015 elections Nour was the only Islamist party, yielding both individual candidates as well as participating on one party list in the West Nile Delta constituency.
Egyptian Popular Current
Party leader: Hamdeen Sabahi
The Egyptian Popular Current is a leftist party that was created after the 2012 presidential elections by presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi on 21 September 2012. He came in third in the 2012 elections and second in the 2014 elections. During his opening speech, Sabahy called for his newly formed party to attract all Egyptians. The party is in favour of achieving social justice by instituting minimum and maximum wages in the public sector, the guarantee of personal and political freedoms, the establishment of a strong democratic system, the adoption of an independent foreign policy entailing, among other features, the reestablishment of Egypt's historical role as a leading regional power and stringent opposition to interference in Egypt's domestic affairs by various world powers. The structure of the movement is essentially decentralized. The party boycotted the 2015 elections.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Former head of the Egyptian Armed Forces, minister of defence
Abdul Fatah al-Sisi was born on 19 November, 1954 in Cairo. He graduated from the Egyptian military academy in 1977 and continued training in the United Kingdom, Egypt and the United States. Under Mubarak’s regime Al-Sisi served as a military attaché in Saudi Arabia. In August 2012 Al-Sisi was appointed as Head of the Egyptian Armed Forces and as Minister of Defence by Morsi. Despite some accusations of being too close to the Muslim Brotherhood he presented himself and the army as “guardians of the people’s will”, following nationwide protests in June 2013. He played a leading role in the military coup of July 2013, which ousted Morsi when he did not meet to the army’s ultimatum to the government and its opponents to resolve the country’s crisis within 48 hours. Al-Sisi remained on his post as Defence Minister in the interim government.In the beginning of 2014 he resigned from his post in order to run for president. He was elected president in June 2014, after it was announced that 96.91% of the votes where in his favour.
Leader of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party
Mohamed Abul-Ghar was born on July 2, 1940 in Shibin El Kom in Egypt. He received his doctoral degree, specialized in obstetrics and gynaecology, in 1969 after he studied medicine at the Cairo University. He became a gynaecology professor and established Egypt’s first specialized medical centre for assisted fertility in 1986. Abul-Ghar became actively involved in politics during the rule of Mubarak and founded along with other university professors the ‘March 9 Movement for the Independence of Universities’ against the security control on Egyptian universities, in which he is currently still active. Abul-Ghar was directly involved in the anti-regime opposition before the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 as coordinator and spokesperson for the National Association for Change (NAC) led by Mohame El-Baradei. After the 2011 revolution Abul-Ghar founded along with some other Egyptian political activists the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP) and became its leader.
Leader of the Egyptian Popular Current
Hamdeen Sabahi, born on 5 July 1954, is an Egyptian politician, journalist and poet. He is currently the leader of the Egyptian Popular Current and a co-leader of the National Salvation Front. An opposition activist during the Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak eras, Sabahi was jailed 17 times during their presidencies for political dissidence. He was an immediate supporter and participant of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. He further founded the Nasserist Karama (Dignity) Party in 1996. During that time Sabahi ran as an independent and not as the Dignity Party's candidate. One of the few secular figures without any ties to the regime of Hosni Mubarak, Sabahi has attracted the support of several leading Nasserists. Sabahi is running under the slogan “one of us” which highlights his strong ties with the working class and advocates his socialist aspirations. During the presidential elections of 2014 he was opposing al-Sisi and won 3.09% of the votes.
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