The Political and Legislative climate of the upcoming Presidential Elections

January 22nd, 2018 by Editor

The Political and Legislative climate of the upcoming Presidential Elections

Elections are the backbone of any democratic system, as they are the vehicle through which we can build and maintain a civil, democratic and pluralistic society. Elections also embodies the Egyptian citizen’s basic right of political participation in a democratic society and it’s the citizen’s say in the decision-making process. Elections offer the basis of the government’s accountability to the people and is the ultimate display of the will of the average citizen that guarantees his undeniable right to choose the government that serves and represents him. This entire process takes place within a legal context which should be sound and reflective of popular aspirations and will.

The Legislative framework:

1) Constitutional Framework:

  • Article 87: Participation of citizens in the public life is a national duty. Every citizen shall have the right to vote, run for elections, and express his/her opinion in referendums. The Law shall regulate the exercise of these rights. There may be exemption from the performance of this duty in certain cases to be specified by Law. The State shall be responsible for entering the name of each citizen in the voters database without request therefrom provided he/she satisfies the conditions for voting. The State shall also purge this database on a periodic basis in pursuance of the Law. The State shall guarantee the safety, neutrality and integrity of referendum and election procedures. It is prohibited to use public funds, government agencies, public facilities, worship places, business sector institutions and non-governmental organizations and institutions for political purposes or election publicity.
  • Article 141: A presidential candidate must be an Egyptian born to Egyptian parents, and neither he or his parents or his spouse may have held any other nationality. He must enjoy civil and political rights, must have performed the military service or have been exempted therefrom by law, and shall not be less than forty calendar years of age on the day of commencing candidacy registration. Other requirements for candidacy shall be set out by Law.
  • Article 142: To be accepted as a candidate for the presidency, candidates must receive the recommendation of at least twenty elected members of the House of Representatives, or support from at least twenty-five thousand citizens enjoying the right to vote, in at least fifteen governorates, with a minimum of one thousand supporter from each governorate. In all cases, no one can support more than one candidate as regulated by Law.
  • Article 143: The President of the Republic shall be elected by direct secret ballot, with an absolute majority of valid votes. Procedures for electing the President of the Republic are regulated by Law.

2) Legal Framework

A)The presidential election law of 2014, also known as law 122:

1)The president is elected through a secret ballot by voters registered in the State’s data base, and each voter has to undertake this right on his own, and choose a president who must have these qualities:

  • He / She has to be Egyptian born to Egyptian parents
  • His/her parents must not carry or have carried citizenships of countries other than Egypt
  • He / She has to have university degree
  • He / She has to enjoy there civil and political rights
  • He / She should have no criminal past
  • He / She has to have finished or exempted from military service
  • He / She cant be less than 40 years old
  • He / She should not be afflicted by any mental of physical disability that can compromise his ability to undertake his/her duties as president.

2) For a candidate to successfully run for the presidency he / she has to obtain the endorsements of 20 members of parliament or 25,000 popular endorsements from 15 governorates. No parliamentarian or citizen can endorse more than 1 candidate.

  1. B) The National Elections Commission (NEC):

The House of Representatives issued the NEC law, and it was ratified by the president on the 4th of July 2017. The law went into effect on August 7th 2017, and according to it the NEC is an independent agency that has legal character and enjoys full technical, financial and administrative independence and its headquarters must be situated in the Egyptian Capital Cairo.

The NEC undertakes the following duties:

  • Issuing the regulations of its activities, as well as holding referendums, and elections in accordance with international norms and traditions.
  • Drafting, maintaining and updating the voters data base.
  • Inviting voters to practice their constitutional right of voting at the allotted times of elections
  • Opening the door for nominations for candidacy and administering the timeline of the process
  • Setting the rules of regulations of the election process
  • Determining the locations of the polling stations and taking the necessary measures to secure them
  • Setting the regulations for Egyptian living abroad to vote
  • Setting the regulations for international and local civil society wishing to monitor the elections
  • Setting the regulations of polling and spreading awareness
  • Establishing a complaints mechanism
  • Preserving the all election papers and documents as well as determining the facilities were candidates can undertake the legally required medical examination.
  • Preparing and announcing a final list of candidates
  • Providing insight over draft laws pertaining to elections and referendums.
  • Announcing elections results

EOHR’s take:

Through reviewing the insight of campaigns of different potential candidates EOHR fears that the elections could turn into a one-sided affair because of the weakness of competition which might very well hamper the legitimacy of the elections. EOHR feels uneasy about the apparent obstacles potential candidates face which include an increasingly biased media apparatus and parliament’s almost unanimous endorsement of President el-Sisi. The state should guarantee objective coverage of the elections with each candidate getting his or her equal and fair share of media exposure to present their electoral programs. Parliament should also allow potential candidates to talk to its members and lobby for their support which is a right provided by the constitution. The NEC should also extend the time frame given for collecting popular endorsements as the time given is insufficient to obtain the sheer amount of endorsements from 15 governorates.

EOHR views the legislative environment surrounding the election process is sound and assuring, as it offers the legal requirements for a free and fair election. However, the political context is quite different as we detect unencouraging signs that contradict these laws and regulations and EOHR calls upon all state institutions and the state media to uphold objectivity and professionalism in dealing with the election process.

 

 

 

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