Report no. 1 on the Egyptian presidential elections

April 30th, 2012 by Editor

Exceeding the campaigning financial ceiling by the presidential candidates

A presidential election will be held in Egypt on 23 and 24 May 2012, with a run-off on 16 and 17 June 2012, if necessary. It will be the second presidential election in Egypt’s history with more than one candidate, following the 2005 election, and the first presidential election after the 2011 Egyptian revolution during the Arab Spring.

Because of the significance of the first presidential electoral process after the Egyptian revolution, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) has started observing and documenting the electoral process with following up the campaigns the presidential candidates. On April 30, 2012, the observers of EOHR found campaigning materials covering walls all over the country including the worshipping houses. The Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) did not take any actions against those candidates who started campaigning before a month and even those who campaigned inside the worshipping houses. So, EOHR issued the first report on the presidential election, including the following:

Rules for the 2012 presidential election

The rules of Egypt’s first post-January 25 Revolution presidential election were released on 30 March 2011. They form part of the Constitutional Declaration and function alongside the 2005 Presidential Election Law (law No. 174 of 2005).

The rules:

1. Candidates have to have been born in Egypt, may not hold dual nationality and may not be married to a foreigner. They must not be less than 40 years in age.

2. In order to be nominated, candidates must secure the support of 30 elected MPs or the recommendations of 30,000 voters from at least 15 Egyptian governorates (or provinces) with no less than 1000 recommendations per governorate, or nomination by a party holding at least one seat in the legislature. The 30,000 recommendations must be officially documented by special public notary offices affiliated to the Ministry of Justice.

3. Candidates must submit a detailed statement about their wealth, must have performed military service or have been exempted from it.

Election date

The presidential election will be held in Egypt on 23 and 24 May 2012. If no candidate garners more than half the vote in the first round, the top two candidates will face one another in a runoff on 16-17 June.

A new president will be named by 21 June, a timeframe that allows the country’s military rulers to meet their pledge of transferring power to a civilian government by the end of June 2012.

The electorate

Estimated population of Egypt: 85 million.

Size of the electorate: Close to 52 million Egyptians are eligible to cast their ballots in the 2012 presidential election.

Period of campaigning

According to SPEC Chairman Farouk Sultan on 7 March, campaigning for the presidential elections will officially begin 30 April or after a final list of candidates is announced 26 April. Campaigning will continue until the end of 20 May, or 48 hours before elections day on 23 May. Anyone breaching these dates will be prosecuted.

Funding of presidential election campaigns

On 7 March, SPEC Chairman Farouk Sultan said: “Presidential candidates will be obliged to open a bank account with the objective of funding their election campaigns. The account will be opened in Egyptian pounds only with just three state-owned banks: the National Bank of Egypt, Misr (Egypt) Bank, and Banque du Caire.”

SPEC set a ceiling on funding in the first round of the presidential election at LE10 million per candidate. In a run-off round, candidates may not spend more than LE2 million on campaigning.

Hatem Bagato, SPEC secretary-general, indicated that the funding will be overseen by the Central Auditing Agency. He indicated that each candidate will be obliged to give SPEC firsthand information about how many cash donations they received and how they are spent. He or she will also have to provide SPEC with a statement about how much funding he or she obtained within 15 days after the announcement of the results of the election.

Bagato also stated that candidates are strictly forbidden from obtaining foreign funding for campaign spending. It is also illegal for presidential candidates to campaign in sites of religious worship. Their campaigns must not violate the private lives of other candidates or stir up issues that might spark sectarian strife.

Presidential campaigning regulations:

Egypt’s Higher Presidential Elections Commission (HPEC) announced on Saturday, the regulations of the presidential campaigning that will start as of April 30, and run until midnight Monday, May 21. If there is a run-off, the campaigning will kick off again on the day following the announcement of the results of the first round until Friday, June 15. Otherwise, further campaigning will be banned. Among the rules of the campaigning, are that the presidential candidate has the right to hold meetings, rallies and symposiums to explain his or her electoral platform. The candidates are not allowed to expose other candidates’ private lives, or their families in any form. They are banned from disseminating remarks against national unity, and too, the norms of society – nor are they able to use religious slogans. Violence, threats and gifts in donations, cash or in kind or promises to offer them, whether in a direct or indirect way are not allowed. The use of public buildings and facilities, state transportation, places of worship, schools and universities is also not permitted. Civil servants are not allowed to make use of their positions in campaigning for presidential candidates. Three daily periods are allocated in Egyptian television and radio to present the electoral platforms of the candidates. The pre-paid advertisements in state media are not allowed.

Exceeding the ceiling of Funding of presidential election campaigns:

EOHR started following up funding the presidential election campaigning. The observers of EOHR noticed and documented starting campaigning earlier than the date set for campaigning, April 30, 2012. Some of the presidential candidates have already paid more that LE 10 million of campaigning materials and activities before April 30, 2012. Some of the presidential candidates pay salaries of local coordinators in 27 governorates countrywide in addition to the cost 30.000 authorizations and the cost of the rallies. Mohamed Morsi, the candidate of Freedom and Justice Political Party held a rally in Dakhlia and Amr Mosa, independent candidate, did the same in Minia, before April 30, 2012.

Campaigning inside worshipping houses:

Although the law no. 174, year 2005, prohibits using worshipping houses for electoral campaigning, many of the presidential candidates used mosques for that purpose. Al Nor Salafi and Freedom and Justice political parties used mosques also for campaigning during the parliamentary elections and the election commission did not have any action against that serious violation, which encourages the presidential candidates of the same references to use the same kind of campaigning.

Electoral campaigning disorders:

The presidential candidates did not wait until April 30, 2012 for spreading their campaigning materials; they did not also wait for the presidential candidates’ short listing. All of them spread their campaigning materials since identifying the presidential election time table before more than two months. The campaigning materials of the excluded candidates are still on the walls in Cairo. The candidates should have been given equal spaces for spreading their campaigning materials. Their should have been an independent body to identify the campaigning regulations and fund ceiling and also following up the campaigning of each candidate in order to delete the names of those who violate the electoral regulations. The independent body could have controlled all these campaigning disorders that cannot be seen in any of the democratic countries.

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