Around 57 representatives of youth political movements and members of the constituent assembly, which drafted amendments to the 2012 constitution, attended on Thursday a national dialogue session called for by interim President Adly Mansour.
The session, which lasted for seven hours, was organised to discuss the political roadmap announced by general commander of the armed forces Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on 3 July, following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi.
Participants specifically discussed whether presidential elections should be held before parliamentary elections and the electoral system to be followed.
Hassan Shahin, spokesman and founding member of the Tamarod (rebellion)campaign, said that 37 attendees voted in favour of holding the presidential elections first, while 14 voted in favour of prioritising the parliamentary elections and six voted for holding both simultaneously.
Shahin attended Thursday’s presidential dialogue alongside Tamarod founding members Mahmoud Badr and Mai Wahba. The campaign is in favour of holding the presidential elections first.
Nader Bakkar, Al-Nour Party’s deputy chairman for media affairs, reiterated the Salafi Party’s stance; in favour of holding the parliamentary elections first. Bakkar told state-run news agency MENA that his party prefers leaving the roadmap non-amended, since amendments would open the door for further amendments.
Bakkar said that holding the parliamentary elections first would prevent Egypt’s next president from acquiring legislative powers. He added that if parliamentary elections are held soon, all political movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, would get involved in the process, therefore leading to “relative stability”, MENA reported.
Tamarod’s Shahin refuted the idea that holding the presidential elections before the parliamentary elections would violate Al-Sisi’s roadmap. He added that the initial roadmap included holding early presidential elections; it was the constitutional declaration issued by Mansour shortly afterwards which stated that parliamentary elections would be held before presidential elections. Shahin pointed out that the constitutional declaration would be invalid as soon as the draft constitution passes.
“When people took to the streets on 30 June, their main demands were the ouster of Morsi and holding early presidential elections,” Shahin said. He added that people are currently united; their unity should be made use of during the presidential elections. “Parliamentary elections will divide up political factions as each faction would be biased toward its party and ideology.”
Shahin said that 22 of the attendees voted in favour of holding parliamentary elections using the individual candidates’ electoral system, 20 voted in favour of using a mixed electoral system and 15 voted in favour of using electoral lists only.
Tamarod’s spokesman said the campaign prefers following the individual candidates’ electoral system; political factions would develop a unified electoral list nationwide made up of 120 candidates.
“There aren’t any strong civilian parties to prompt us to follow the electoral lists’ system,” Shahin said. He added that an individual candidates’ electoral system would shrink electoral districts in a manner that would encourage fairer representation.
“We are currently in a battle between revolutionary forces, the Muslim Brotherhood and people with selfish interests,” Shahin said. “The only way to beat the Brotherhood would be through adopting the individual candidates’ electoral system. Since this system wouldn’t fairly represent youth, women and Copts, we have suggested the unified electoral list to work around this disadvantage.”
The meeting was also attended by representatives from Al-Tayar Al-Shaaby (Popular Current), the Free Egyptians Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, and members of the National Salvation Front (NSF). Most Islamist political movements, other than Al-Nour Party, did not attend the meeting.
Presidential spokesman Ihab Badawi said that the meeting is the beginning of a series of similar meetings to be held with different political factions to help “realise the popular will”, reported MENA.
While Bakkar said that the opinions expressed during those meetings would only be advisory, Shahin and his campaign called on Mansour to take into consideration the youth’s suggestions when taking decisions.
The two contentious issues regarding the priority of the presidential elections and the electoral system were intended to be resolved by the constituent assembly.
The two articles governing the coming parliamentary elections did not initially obtain the approval of 75% of the constituent assembly during its final voting session on constitutional articles. Article 229 stated that two thirds of each electoral district in the coming parliamentary elections will be elected from individual candidates while the remaining third will be elected from electoral lists. Article 230 stated that the coming parliamentary elections should take place within a period between 30 to 90 days after the constitution passes.
Both articles were amended in a manner which would leave deciding on the electoral system and whether the parliamentary elections would be held prior to the presidential elections up to the legislator. The interim president currently has legislative authority.
Article 230 was also amended to state that regardless of which elections are held first – presidential or parliamentary – the second election should be held within six months of the passing of the constitution.