Egypt’s angry youth feel their revolution has not been fully victorious yet. One year ago Hosni Mubarak stepped down only after handing over power to his loyalist military, making Field Marshall Tantawi the new strongman. Just few days before Mubarak had needlessly picked Omar Suleiman as his Vice President. People have doubts whether elections under Mubarak loyalists will genuinely realize such cherished ideals as freedom and liberty. The caretaker government in Egypt has however formulated certain election and voting processes which at the outset would indicate an attempt for a truer representation of ordinary citizens.
Traditionally people are grouped into classes based on ethnicity, language, denomination or residency. To be grouped into professional communities for the purpose of national representation is another way to ensure all round participation in national policy making. It also provides some under privileged groups (like farmers and laborers) a chance to make their voices heard in the highest office. Also, it provides them with access to the corridors of power usually reserved for the rich and powerful.
On 21 July 2011, the Supreme Council for Armed Forces of Egypt announced:
- that the election (for both the People’s Assembly and the Upper House, aka Shura Council) would be held in three rounds in October, with 15-day intervals in-between;
- that half the seats would be reserved for laborers and farmers;
- that the women’s quota introduced under Mubarak would be abolished.
There are a total 508 seats in the Lower house: 498 seats are elected, and 10 seats appointed, in this case, by the Military Council and usually by the President. Out of those 498 seats, two-thirds, meaning 332, shall be elected from the parties or coalition-lists, in 46 districts. Remaining 166 seats are open to candidates running as individuals, who may or may not be affiliated with political parties, numbering two per each of the 83 districs. Out of these, the new parliament must have at least half “laborers” or “farmers”, while the “professionals” should constitute at most half of the parliament. If the winner of one of the two seats that are allocated to a certain district, is a “professional”, the second seat in the district shall be handed to a “laborer” or a “farmer”.
50% of seats would be reserved for laborers and farmers who could go on to form a remarkable representation in the parliament where their voice (if they can be united) could very well become the voice of policy making.
In the Shura Council (“the Consultative Council or Upper House”) out of a total 270 seats in the Upper House: 180 seats are up for grabs and 90 seats shall be appointed after the presidential election, by the president-elect. Following these elections, the parliament shall select a committee that will draft a new constitution for Egypt. The new constitution shall than be submitted to a referendum. Only then will presidential election be held, “no later than 30 June 2012” according to Hussein Tantawi‘s statement.
About 50 million people are eligible to vote out of a total of 85 million population. Turnout was said to be around 52%. Muslim Brotherhood was the clear winner in the parliamentary elections with 10.1 million votes, 37.5% having 235 seats under the banner Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). Second was Al Nour Party, carrying salafist ideology and labeled as the Islamist Bloc, with 7.5 million votes, 27.5% of total.
A seemingly fair representation of citizens in the elections did not satisfy the revolutionaries. A judicial enquiry was recently established to look into the funding sources of NGOs who are accused of instigating chaos to disrupt the political process. Recent violent demonstrations in Cairo were allegedly doctored by foreign funded NGOs working at the behest of foreign powers.
Analysts saw the rise in violence immediately after the elections as signs of concerns about the future new rulers of Egypt. Election results did upset secularists and their supporters within and outside Egypt. To unleash ruthless soldiers against civilians was a failed tactic designed to fail from the start. It only helped bring revolutionaries back to Tahrir Square in another show of solidarity for freedom.