All parties have a fair chance to win the highest number of seats, but only some parties are truly in the hunt.
The upcoming parliamentary election is the most important in Egypt’s history simply because its outcome will determine how far the new president will be able to carry out his vision and electoral promises. According to the 2014 constitution, forming a government is a joint effort between the president and parliament, but if both have conflicting opinions the parliament will solely form the government against the president’s will. The new parliament may form a government which poses an obstacle to implementing the president’s election programme and hampers his attempts to pursue his policies, thus forcing him to change his political agenda. The new constitution stipulates that the president suggests a government formation to parliament, and the government will take office once the parliament gives it the green light. However, if parliament rejects the proposed cabinet, it will form a new one without the interference of the president. This is why the new parliament will be of great significance in Egyptian political history.
Obviously, the parliamentary elections will be impartial, so all parties have a fair chance to win the highest number of seats. We have 84 political parties in Egypt, but most are no more than membership IDs and their headquarters are only operative once in a blue moon, so actually they are not political parties in the strict sense of the word. Only about 10 out of the 84 can really be called “parties”, and they are the ones which will compete in the election. The contesting parties are divided into civil ones and those with religious reference. The civil parties fall into the following categories: liberal, left-wing and nationalist, whereas parties with a religious slant encompass the Salafists and the Brotherhood’s loyal supporters. Although the constitution bans religion-based parties, the status quo imposed on the state the presence of some parties with religious references but not based on religious ideology.
On the whole, it is an open competition between different parties to win the parliament’s seats. However, there were demands to increase the seats allocated to party lists, and others called for giving individuals only 50% of the seats. Some parties also call for a system that distributes the seats to all lists according to the number of votes won by each list. For instance, if a list wins 10 seats it will get 10% of the seats, etc.
The parliamentary elections law states that 80% of the seats will be elected individually, while the remaining seats will be elected through electoral lists, a move frowned upon by political parties which thought that the law struck a blow to their abilities to work efficiently. They said the 80% quota for individuals will just weaken the grip of the party on its representatives in the parliament, and make personal individual characteristics the basis of choice instead of the parties’ election programmes, hence threaten their interest in enhancing partisan life in Egypt in the future.