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Majlis Al-Chaab (People's Assembly)

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Parliament name -
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Majlis Al-Chaab / People's Assembly
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Majlis Ash-Shura / Shoura Assembly
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) (from/to)28 November 2011
11 January 2012
Purpose of elections Elections were held for all the directly elected seats in the People's Assembly.
The elections to the People's Assembly were the first to be held after the revolution that saw long-serving President Hosni Mubarak leave power in February 2011, following 18 days of mass protests. The elections were held in three stages starting from 28 November 2011, with each stage followed by run-offs a week later (see note). At stake were 498 directly-elected seats in the People's Assembly, 10 others being appointed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

In the previous elections held in November and December 2010, President Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP) took 427 of the 504 seats confirmed by the Higher Elections Commission (results for four seats were invalidated and those seats remained vacant). Run-off elections were held amid controversy over alleged vote rigging and the withdrawal of several opposition parties. Finally, the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) intervened to halt the run-offs. The opposition parties took a total of 16 seats. The remaining 69 seats went to independent candidates, many of whom were reportedly close to the NDP. In all, 65 women (including 64 under the reserved seats) were elected.

On 14 January 2011, street protests forced long-serving Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee his country. The wave of anti-government protests spread to several countries in the region, including Egypt. On 25 January, street protests demanding the resignation of President Mubarak started in several cities in Egypt. On 28 January, President Mubarak appointed intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as Vice-President, and former air force commander Ahmed Shafiq as the new Prime Minister, promising reforms. However, the protestors continued to demand the President's immediate resignation, mobilizing over 1 million people in Cairo.

On 11 February, Vice-President Suleiman announced that President Mubarak had handed over power to a Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), chaired by Commander-in-Chief and Defence Minister, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. On 13 February, the SCAF suspended the Constitution and dissolved parliament, promising to call elections within six months.

The SCAF set up a committee to review the Constitution, and on 19 March, 41.19 per cent of the 18.5 million registered voters took part in a constitutional referendum. In all, 77.2 per cent of voters approved the constitutional amendments. Those amendments eased restrictions on eligibility conditions for the presidency and limited the presidential term to two four-year terms. They also provide for full judicial monitoring of elections.

On 16 April, the SAC disbanded the NDP. All NDP assets were seized and handed over to the SCAF.

Parliamentary elections, which were initially expected to be held in September 2011, were subsequently postponed to November, due mainly to delays in revising the electoral system. On 27 September, the SCAF announced election dates for both chambers, starting on 28 November.

The new electoral law, announced on 20 July, provided for a mixed system instead of the previous majority vote. Two thirds of the directly-elected seats in both chambers are filled by the party list proportional representation system. The remaining seats are filled through the simple majority system. The 64 seats previously reserved for women were abolished, but parties were required to include at least one woman candidate in each list. The eligibility age was lowered from 30 to 25 years for both chambers. An earlier draft reserved the majority seats only for individual candidates. However, due to protests from many parties, on 8 October, the SCAF amended the law, thereby allowing political parties to field candidates under the majority system, as well as the proportional system.

On 25 October, the SAC ruled to allow Egyptians abroad to vote in parliamentary elections. On 11 November, an administrative court in the city of Mansoura barred former NDP members from running in parliamentary elections. Six members subsequently appealed to the SAC demanding their right to participate in the parliamentary elections. On 14 November, the SAC overturned the ruling of the administrative court and allowed former NDP members to run for public office, including in the 2011-2012 parliamentary elections.

On 14 November, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Al-Selmy presented guidelines for the debate on a new constitution which stated that the SCAF would have a veto over any piece of legislation relating to military affairs, triggering mass demonstrations and deadly clashes. Protesters accused the SCAF of seeking to cling to power and demanded the immediate handing over of power to a civilian government.

In all, 6,591 candidates and 40 political parties vied for seats to the People's Assembly, and another 2,036 candidates registered for the Shoura Assembly. Parties represented in the previous People's Assembly - such as New Wafd Party (NWP) and the National Progressive Unionist Grouping (Tagammu), were challenged by Islamist parties, most of which were formed after February 2011. The major Islamist parties included the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), formed by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB, which had been banned under Mr. Mubarak's regime); Al-Wasat (Centre) - a splinter of the MB; and Al-Nur (Light), an ally of the ultra-conservative Salafis. "Salafism" means adhesion to the fundamental instructions of the Prophet Mohamed and his generation. Salafis believe that their role is to pass on the classical teachings of Islam without any changes. Salafism is used as a reference by some extremists and Jihad groups.

Most of these parties were initially part of two electoral alliances: the Democratic Alliance - a coalition of Islamist and non-Islamist parties, including the FJP - and the Egyptian Bloc, a coalition of liberal and leftist parties. The Egyptian Bloc pledged to work for liberal democracy and uphold universal citizenship (which, as has been the case since 2004, recognizes that citizenship can be transmitted by Egyptian mothers as well as fathers) and opposed transforming Egypt into an Islamic State.

Prior to the first round, several parties in the Democratic Alliance withdrew, citing ideological differences. They included the New Wafd Party, the Tagammu and the Democratic Arab Nasirist Party. These parties fielded candidates on their own. The New Wafd Party promised to maintain the two-term limit on the presidency. The Democratic Arab Nasirist Party campaigned for stronger State institutions. The international media focused on how well Islamist parties would do in the elections, pushing other parties' campaigns to the back burner.

Islamist parties in the Democratic Alliance refrained from focusing on religion during the election campaigning. The FJP pledged to establish "a civil State" where Islamic law would be the source of legislation covering all aspects of life. Al-Wasat promised to work for equal citizenship rights for all Egyptians. Al-Nur, a Salafist party established in May 2011, promised to resolve social and economic problems.

In all, over 60 per cent of the 58 million registered voters (50 million in Egypt and 8 million abroad) turned out for the three-stage elections to the People's Assembly. Apart from the late opening of several polling stations in the first stage, no major incidents were reported.

In the first stage, the FJP secured about 37 per cent of the votes, and the Egyptian Bloc took 13 per cent. By the end of the second stage, Islamist parties had secured a combined two thirds of the valid votes cast.

The final results announced on 21 January 2012 gave 235 seats to the FJP, and 123 seats to Al-Nur party. The New Wafd Party and the Egyptian Bloc followed, taking 38 and 34 seats respectively.

On 23 January 2012, the newly elected People's Assembly held its first session and elected Mr. Mohamed Saad El-Katatny (FJP) as its new Speaker.

Separate elections for the Shoura Assembly were held between 29 January and 22 February. The FJP and its allies won 106 of the 180 directly elected seats. Al-Nur party took 45 seats while Wafd and the Egyptian Bloc took 14 and eight seats respectively. The remainder went to small parties. Another 90 members will be appointed by the country's President after the presidential elections.

On 28 February, the newly elected Shoura Assembly held its first session and elected Mr. Ahmed Fahmy (FJP) as its new President.

Until the presidential elections, the SCAF will retain executive power while the newly elected parliament will be vested with legislative powers. The members of the People's Assembly and the directly-elected members of the Shoura Assembly will designate 100 members to the Constituent Assembly in a joint session to be held by early April. The Constituent Assembly will be tasked with drafting a new Constitution within six months, which will subsequently be put to a referendum. Presidential elections are now expected in June 2012.

The elections were held in three stages, each time in nine governorates as follows:
- First stage: 28 and 29 November 2011 (run-offs on 5 and 6 December) in Cairo, Fayoum, Port Said, Damietta, Alexandria, Kafr El-Sheikh, Assiut, Luxor and the Red Sea;
- Second stage: 14 and 15 December (run-offs on 21 and 22 December) in Giza, Beni Suef, Menoufiya, Sharqiya, Ismailiya, Suez, Beheira, Sohag and Aswan; and
- Third stage: 3 and 4 January 2012 (run-offs on 10 and 11 January) in Minya, Qalioubiya, Gharbiya, Daqahliya, North Sinai, South Sinai, Marsa Matrouh, Qena and New Valley.
Voter turnout
Round no 1 (from/to)28 November 2011
11 January 2012
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
About 58,000,000
Over 60%

Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total Proportional Majority
Freedom and Justice Party 235 127 108
Al-Nur 123 96 27
New Wafd Party (NWP) 38 36 2
Egyptian Bloc 34 33 1
Independents 23 0 23
Al-Wasat 10 10 0
Reform and Development Party 9 8 1
"Revolution Continues" Alliance 7 7 0
Egyptian National Party 5 4 1
Freedom party 4 4 0
Egyptian Citizens party 4 3 1
Al-Ettihad 2 2 0
Al-Salam 1 1 0
Al-Mohafezeen 1 0 1
Justice 1 0 1
Arab National party 1 1 0
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Note on the Distribution of seats according to sex
Eight women were directly elected and two others were appointed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Source: Permanent Mission of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Geneva (09.02.2012)

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