August and September were voting months in Egypt as it was time to compose a new Senate. However, with only between 10 and 14 percent of the population who casted their vote, 54 million Egyptians are now risking persecution for not partaking.
The pro-government coalition National Unified List was allocated the vast majority of the 200 eligible seats, with its leading party Mostaqbal Watan alone attaining 118 seats. At least one independent and six members from the opposition were also chosen to become part of the Senate.
A two-round system is used to elect the members for the Egyptian Senate. The initial voting took place on the 9th and 10th of August, followed by the run-off on the 11th and 12th of September. The first round had a turnout rate of 14% and the second round just over 10%. This low rate is most likely the result of an accumulation of issues including the COVID-19 pandemic, confusion about the role of the Senate and lack of incentives.
Unacceptable turn-out rate
The Board of Directors of the National Elections Authority (NEA) found the turnout rate to be unacceptable and stated to handover the names of those who did not vote to be persecuted. With around 54 million Egyptians who did not cast their votes, it was questioned how realistic it is to persecute everybody. The NEA said that enough measures were taken to ensure the voters’ health during this pandemic.
The Senate in Egypt is an advisory body of the House of Representatives without any legislative powers. It has 300 seats of which 100 are allocated through a closed party list system, 100 through a single member constituency and the remaining seats are appointed by President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi.
The predecessor of the Senate is the Shura Council, which was revoked in 2014. In 2019, Egyptians voted to be in favour of a Senate through a referendum. That same referendum gave Al-Sisi more power and expanded his presidential term until 2030.
Will more Egyptians vote for upcoming parliamentary elections?
The parliamentary elections in Egypt would normally be held in November of this year. However, it has now been made public that the elections will be held earlier, namely on the 24th and 25th of October.
In June 2020, new laws regarding the parliamentary elections were passed. This included an increase in Members of Parliament from 540 to 568 and a change in the electoral system. From now on, almost half of the MP’s will be elected through the individual candidacy system and the other half through the closed list system. 28 MP’s will be directly appointed by President Al-Sisi. The electoral system of the Parliament is therefore closely aligned to that of the Senate. Also, 25% of all seats in Parliament are reserved for women.
The turn-out for the Parliamentary elections might shows whether the Egyptians have more faith in Parliament than in the Senate.