Explaining the Electoral Districts for Egypt’s Parliamentary Elections 2013: After the ruling from the Supreme

Constitutional Court (SCC), amendments have been made to the original law. The most important of these focuses on re-districting & there are now new districts for Proportional representation (PR) and Individual candidates (IC). This note aims to explain the changes & how, in consideration of the counting procedures, this affects the elections: The new structure for the districts is as follows: Governerate Cairo Alexandria Suez Ismailia Port Said Qaloubiya Sharqeya Daqahliya Damietta Kafr El-Sheikh Gharbeya Monofeya Beheira Giza Fayoum Beni Suef Minya Assuit Sohag Qena Luxor Aswan Matrouh New Valley Red Sea North Sinai south Sinai IC Districts IC seats PR districts PR seats 11 22 4 44 5 10 2 20 1 2 1 4 1 2 1 4 1 2 1 4 4 8 2 16 6 12 2 24 6 12 3 24 2 4 1 8 3 6 2 12 5 10 3 20 4 8 2 16 5 10 2 20 7 14 3 28 3 6 2 12 3 6 2 12 4 8 2 16 4 8 2 16 5 10 2 20 3 6 2 12 1 2 1 4 2 4 1 8 1 2 1 4 1 2 1 4 1 2 1 4 1 2 1 4 1 2 1 4 Candidate lists 12, 12, 8, 12 12, 8 4 4 4 8, 8, 12, 12 8,8,8 8 4, 8 8, 8, 4 8, 8 12, 8 8, 12, 8 8, 4 8, 4 8,8 8,8 12, 8 4, 8 4 8 4 4 4 4 4 total seats 66 30 6 6 6 24 36 36 12 18 30 24 30 42 18 18 24 24 30 18 6 12 6 6 6 6 6

1) Looking at the above, in comparison to the 2011 law (promulgated under the SCAF in September 2011), there are an additional 2 PR districts (Giza & Gharbeya), and 8 new IC districts. However, parliamentarians will increase by 48 members to a new total of 546. These extra members have appeared in creating larger lists to represent larger population representation – notably in Giza, Cairo, Alexandria & Sharqeya. 2) The IC: In general, the IC changes (ie: 8 new districts = 16 candidates) will not significantly impact elections. The vote structure remains the ‘first past the post’ system (as used in 2011), and so, any candidate in the first round who receives 50%+1 votes will automatically win a seat in parliament (Note: for every district, 2 IC’s will be appointed to parliament). The law (as it has stood since 2011): In a district where no-one wins an outright majority then 4 front-runners will go forward to a runoff; (each run-off between 2 candidates), and a win is gained by simple majority. Here there must be a farmer/worker in each run-off to conform to the 50% representation of Farmers/workers rule in parliament. Note however, as in 2011, if an outright seat is won in one district, but a run-off takes place for the second seat; where the 1st winner is a professional (ie: not farmer/worker), the run-off will take place between the 2 farmer/worker candidates who polled the highest votes, even where the highest ‘runners-up’ are professionals. This is again to ensure the 50% farmer/worker representation. Also, if a farmer/worker wins the outright vote, the run-off for the second seat will be between the two highest ‘runners-up’ regardless of their status. There is no provision in the law to address the scenario of what would happen if two professionals won an outright majority in the first round, mainly due to the unlikelihood of this event. Nevertheless, my guess would be, in such a scenario, that the lowest majority winner would lose his seat & a run-off would take place between the two highest-polling farmer/workers. Whilst these procedures ensure 50% conformity to the farmer/worker rule, it allows for there to be a higher percentage of farmer/workers. 3) PR Lists: There are now, across the country: 2 new PR lists, and a total of 32 new candidates. The most significant issues in regard to the re-districting refer to the counting procedure for PR. It is easier to use a hypothetical example to explain the count (I will use parties who ran in the 2011 elections to make it realistic): Eg: Cairo district 1. For ease of math we will assume it is a 10 seat PR district & there are 1 million valid votes cast. The Results of the vote are as follows: FJP = 400,000 votes Salafi Bloc = 250,000 votes Egyptian Bloc = 150,000 votes Wafd = 100,000 votes Revolution Continues Alliance = 50,000 votes Other Parties = 50,000 votes.

If there are 1 million votes cast in a 10 seat district the seat allocation runs as follows: The number of votes required to win one seat is 100,000 votes (1 million/10). Under the law, any parties that earn votes below 100,000 (the ‘quota’) have their votes discarded and added to the party who won the most votes. In this example therefore, the ‘Revolution Continues Alliance’ & ‘Other Parties’ who tallied less than 100,000 votes, have their votes discarded – at least in regard to apportioning seats in the district (NB: national threshold – see below). The remaining parties’ votes are then distributed as follows: The party with the most votes wins the first seat. In this example this is FJP. So, FJP remaining votes after winning the 1st seat is: 400,000 – 100,000 = 300,000. The next seat goes to the party who holds the most votes after ‘re-counting’. As per the above numbers, this is again, FJP. So their tally now becomes 300,000 – 100,000 = 200,000. For the 3rd seat, the highest polling party, and winner of the seat, becomes the Salafi Bloc – detracting 100,000 (their total becomes 150,000) and so on. And so, in this example, using the counting system in place, the results would eventually be as follows: FJP: 4 seats, Salafi Bloc: 3 seats, Egyptian Bloc: 2 seat, Wafd: 1 seat (This example is slightly flawed as the totals for some parties become equal as you go through – in practice this is practically impossible so would never be an issue, this is only an example of how the count works. NB: Should this ever actually happen under the law, priority would go to the party who polled the highest overall in that district 1st and the next seat to the 2nd party). Note however, that whilst largely ignored due to its negligibility in number; there is a national threshold of 0.5%. Meaning that any party, in order to take seats in parliament, must meet the national threshold by winning at least 0.5% of the total valid votes cast nationwide. This implies that any party that subsequently wins seats in a district, but does not meet the national threshold, would lose its place in parliament. The law didn’t address this scenario in 2011 & it doesn’t address it now; the main sticking point is: what happens to these parties’ votes and subsequently their seats in Parliament & how would the now empty seats be re-distributed? Whilst this scenario is very unlikely, even more so with fewer non-mainstream parties running this year, it is a deep flaw in the law that as yet remains unanswered. It is this counting procedure that the NSF were opposed to & wanted amended as a condition to participating in the elections. It is obvious to see why. The counting system quite obviously benefits the large parties that poll higher votes, and discriminates heavily against smaller parties, in a way completely defeating the idea of proportional representation via party lists. However, considering the large increase in list size in some areas – namely Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Aswan & Sharqeya, and the dwindling voter turnout; I contest that this is now a situation that smaller parties can use to their advantage. Whilst low voter turnout should in theory, & probably will, favour the

Islamist parties, there is great room for the liberal movements & smaller parties to make some significant gains & possibly win seats in large districts. This is because, as voter turnout dwindles (it is predicted turnout could go as low as 30% in the upcoming elections), and lists become larger (Cairo, amongst other governerates now has 12 seat district PR lists), the number of votes now required for a qualifying seat ‘quota’ will be much lower than previously seen in 2011. This opens the door for smaller parties to not only ensure their votes do not get discarded for being too low, but with the right campaign tools & efficient voter targeting; liberal movements & young, independent candidates running on lists could actually stand to do very well. Furthermore; regarding the seats, the law, as in 2011, requires the list be made up of alternating professionals & farmer/workers to ensure the 50% quota is reached (ie: if no.1 is a professional, no.2 is a farmer/worker, no.3 is professional etc). This becomes an issue when parties who come in 2nd/3rd win seats for their parliamentary candidates. If the seats already won by the majority party are not equally farmer/workers to professionals, then it is not guaranteed that the top of each subsequent party list will win the seat. If that member is not a farmer/worker & the district requires that he must be, the seat for that party will go to their highest placed farmer/worker on their list (practice in 2011 has shown he is generally placed number 2) – so you could have a small party, headed by a prominent liberal win a seat in parliament, but it does not in fact go to the 1st place member on the list, it will go to the farmer/worker. This is a detriment to those smaller parties who will tend to poll lower, and win fewer seats, as their prominent professionals may not win seats in parliament – however, by making it a mandatory obligation that the farmer/workers be alternately numbered on the list, this has in itself constricted ‘choice’ regarding the candidates for party lists. 4) Finally, an issue for all the parties running this year: Elections are to be held starting April 22nd. As yet, candidate filing has not opened, and after the SCC ruling & the Law (art. 9 (B)), the elections commission must finalise their lists within 7 days of the closing for candidate filing. Should candidates/parties wish to appeal a decision by the commission, the administrative court has 7 days to hear appeals. Therefore: there must be a maximum 14 day gap before the full lists of candidates can be finalized & released once candidate filing has closed. In order to give Round 1 candidates at least 30 days to campaign, logically this window must shut by March 8th to reach elections by April 22nd. This is not only unrealistic considering the current climate, but wholly unfair & impractical considering the enormity & importance of these elections. Whilst the law does not state a minimum period for campaigning & I am not aware if legally this can be raised as a challenge to the legitimacy of the election; it would come as no surprise if this is an issue that is later raised at the highest judicial level for review. If the law appears to be confusing, it’s because it is. A mixture of many different voting systems rolled into one, as well as a flawed counting system has allowed for the continued criticism of Egypt’s electoral process. Nevertheless, on a purely legal level, there are opportunities for smaller parties to take advantage of a rushed law and the SCC rulings to benefit & make some gains across the country. What they can do on a political level however, is another matter entirely…

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