Sunday, September 4, 2011

Political powers slam leaked lists of new electoral constituencies

Daily News Egypt
Heba Fahmy

CAIRO: Political powers and experts slammed Sunday leaked lists charting the breakdown of new electoral constituencies for the upcoming parliamentary elections, saying it made it "extremely difficult" for candidates to campaign.

"Expanding the constituencies will impose great difficulty on candidates, who will need to extend their campaigning to areas they never stet foot in before and where they lack the people's support and recognition," professor of electoral systems at Cairo University, Mazen Hassan, told Daily News Egypt.

Changing the distribution of the electoral constituencies, however, is a "controversial issue," that occurs around the world, not just in Egypt, he added.

"Whatever the change is, it will never please the people or the political powers," he said.
Daily independent Al-Masry Al-Youm published Sunday leaked lists of the new distribution of electoral constituencies, stating that the Cabinet submitted it to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) for approval.

However, the cabinet's press office told Daily News Egypt that it couldn't confirm or deny the authenticity of the document leaked to the press, stressing that the issue was not discussed in the Cabinet's last meeting held on Aug. 28.

The amendments to the People’s Assembly law, announced by the ruling military council in July, combine the closed party lists and individual candidates’ systems, with 50 percent allocated to each.

For the PA (lower house) elections, the country will be divided into 184 constituencies, 126 of which will be contested by individual candidate. Two candidates will be elected in each constituency, where at least one must be a worker or farmer. The remaining 58 constituencies will be reserved for closed party lists.

Mohamed Farag, assistant secretary-general of Al-Tagammu Party, said that the distribution of constituencies was "illogical".

"Giza governorate for example is divided into three constituencies … north, middle and south," Farag explained, adding that the north combines villages with more developed districts.
"The needs and types of people in each area are different … and impossible to include in one constituency," he added.

Hassan pointed out that expanding the constituencies would decrease the value of each individual vote, which is not in the best interest of the candidates. "Now each candidate will need to gain at least 200,000 votes for example instead of 100,000 to win," he explained.
To many other political powers, the new distribution allowed only wealthy candidates to campaign and gave the opportunity to the remnants of the former regime to win the elections.

The new distribution put together geographically separate districts, like the decision to add Al-Shorouk suburb to the eastern Cairo district of Heliopolis. Meanwhile, Heliopolis was separated from its adjacent district, Nasr City, which would be in a new constituency along with the southeastern suburb of New Cairo.

More complaints have targeted Upper Egypt, where single constituencies would cover bigger areas.
"What kind of candidate can afford to travel and campaign in all these remote areas which have no geographical relation with each other unless they have the means and wealth to do so," member of the National Association for Change and Kefaya movement, Karima Al-Hifnawy, questioned.

Members of the April 6 Youth Movement and Farag echoed Al-Hifnawy's concerns, saying that this would allow the dominance of tribalism and corrupt figures of the fallen regime in the PA elections in a scene reminiscent of previous elections under ousted President Hosni Mubarak's reign.

"This will deprive the youth and new political powers who entered the political scene following the revolution from campaigning and gaining the people's confidence," said Mahmoud Afify, spokesman for the April 6 Youth Movement. "While giving leverage to remnants of the former regime to use their money and corrupt methods to win the elections."

On the other hand, the Muslim Brotherhood its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) didn’t want to directly comment on the leaked document saying that it wasn't confirmed yet.

"Not all information leaked to the press is correct, we will have to wait until these lists are officially announced," deputy head of the FJP, Essam El-Erian told Daily News Egypt.

He, however, outlined the general principles that should govern the distribution of electoral constituencies.

"There should be a fair distribution that takes into consideration the density of each district in relation to the number of candidates," he explained, adding that the geography of the districts should be taken into consideration as well.

The leaked lists only included the electoral constituencies of the lower house elections and did not include the Shoura Council lists. SCAF had announced that both the Shoura and PA elections would be held on the same day, which was widely criticized by political powers.

"This will cause complete chaos and confuse the voters," Farag said.

Military council member General Mamdouh Shahin, previously responded to criticism saying that "having the PA and Shoura elections on the same day will help us provide the same amount of security for both.” This, he added, would save costs during this critical economic period.

However, this statement did little to sway political powers.

"With the lack of security we have now, there's no way the army and police will be able to secure the elections and guarantee their integrity," Al-Hifnawy concluded. –Additional reporting by Safaa Abdoun

Help Us Transmit This Story

    Add to Your Blogger Account
    Put it On Facebook
    Tweet this post
    Print it from your printer
     Email and a collection of other outlets
     Try even more services

No comments:

Post a Comment