Study | Egypt’s House of Representatives elections 2020: political and legislative analysis
Voters outside a poll station in Cairo, Parliamentary Elections 2020
Today, the Liberal Democracy Institute (LDI) released a comprehensive study, covering a political and legislative analysis, on the Egyptian House of Representatives elections, which took place between September 10th to December 14th, 2020.
The study, consisting of five chapters, dealt with evaluating the entire electoral process with the aim of ensuring that elections are conducted according to internationally acknowledged standards of integrity, freedom, and transparency. The study also uses this election as a milestone to evaluate the progress on democratic reform in Egypt, in general.
Following, are top highlights from the findings of the study:
* Despite COVID-19 Pandemic, the Egyptian National Elections Authority (NEA), in cooperation with respective ministries and governmental bureaus, such as the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Immigration, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Armed Forces, managed to organize a smooth electoral process.
* The new electoral law no. 147/2020 re-distributed the electoral districts and divided Egypt’s 27 governorates into two electoral phases. This had a positive impact on the electoral process, and made it easier for all involved parties, especially the military and police forces responsible for securing the poll stations. This division, also, helped with avoiding the public chaos and difficulty of running businesses as usual, during election days, as was the case before.
* Women, and other politically-marginalized groups (e.g. youth, Coptic Christians, people with disabilities, etc.) were appropriately represented on electoral lists and among partisan candidates on individual seats, thanks to the quota preserved for them in the new electoral law. As a result, youth under 35 managed to win 96 seats, most of them are independent. Meanwhile, women won 148 seats. This number in addition to 14 seats reserved for women on the 28 seats appointed by the president of the state, according to law, means that women will be represented by at least 27% in the new House of Representatives. This is an unprecedented percentage of women Members of Parliament, in Egypt’s history.
* Voters turnout at 28% of registered voters did not differ much from the previous parliamentary elections in 2015, but it is almost the double of the voter turnout in Senate Elections, of slightly above 14%, that was held only one month before this House of Representative Elections. Given movement, social, and economic complications of the Coronavirus pandemic, this percentage is considered fair.
* Civil society organizations, which followed the elections, witnessed and reported some illegal attempts by some unscrupulous candidates who tried to buy votes through distributing cash or food commodities. The police forces had to intervene in some electoral districts to control the buying of votes, on voting day. Despite the limited number of those who attempted to buy votes, it is a crime, and the danger that these twisted attempts pose to the process of democratization in Egypt and the credibility of the electoral process among citizens, still exists. This requires that the NEA impose stricter regulations that can deter political parties and candidates from committing the same crime in future elections. In parallel, concerned civil society organizations should cooperate with the state in educating citizens about the political repercussions of accepting voter bribes.
* There was an extensive use of the internet and social media platforms by all involved parties in this election, because of the COVID-19 crisis, that made it difficult for candidates to hold traditional electoral campaigns. We expect that the use of digital tools in upcoming years, and upcoming elections, shall increase. Therefore, NEA and relevant governmental agencies should work from now on digitizing the election process, and setting proper rules for party advertising and electoral campaigning on the internet.