CAIRO: Political forces slammed Monday amendments made to the parliament law that increase the share of party lists from 50 percent to two-thirds of the seats, while reducing the number of seats in both houses of parliament.
The previous law prepared by cabinet and amended by the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), stipulated that 50 percent of the People’s Assembly seats will be elected through party lists and 50 percent through the individual candidates system. However, political parties demanded elections to exclusively follow the party lists system, complaining that the law allowed remnants of the now-dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP) to garner seats.
But despite the amendments announced on Sunday but are yet to be approved by SCAF, their sentiments were unchanged.
"The amendments still don’t meet the demands of political forces, and cast doubt over the ability of SCAF to achieve these demands," spokesman of Al-Wasat Party Tarek El-Malt told Daily News Egypt Monday.
"The remaining 30 percent of parliament seats allocated to individuals will be won through vote-buying, thuggery and tribalism," El-Malt added.
The earlier version of the law divided up the country into large constituencies, which analysts said would only allow wealthy candidates to campaign and reach out to voters.
The amendments stipulate that members of political parties can’t run as individuals. Any violation of this rule will subject the elected MP to expulsion via two-thirds vote against him in parliament.
The amendments also decreased the number of seats in the People’s Assembly from 504 seats to 498, and decreased the seats of the Shoura Council from 390 to 270.
In the PA, 46 constituencies will be contested through closed party lists and 83 through individuals candidates, while in the Shoura Council, 30 constituencies will be allocated to closed lists and 30 to individuals.
Secretary-General of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) Saad El-Katatny said in a statement Monday that all laws related to the upcoming election need to be revisited to guarantee a parliament representative of the revolution.
"The demands of the political forces to have 100 percent of seats chosen through party lists were meant to avoid any interference from the remnants of the NDP in the new parliament," El-Katatny said.
"Now after licensing six new parties belonging to the remnants of the NDP and preventing party candidates from running for individual seats, it seems that the revolution’s path is not immune from the dangers of infiltration by previous regime figures," he said.
The Egyptian Bloc, an alliance including a number of liberal political parties like the Free Egyptians, Egypt Freedom, Awareness, and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, condemned in a statement the new amendments, describing them as not meeting the least of their demands.
"The Egyptian Bloc completely rejects the amendments made to the new parliament law, and despite our willingness to contest the elections anyway, we urge the SCAF to further amend the law to include only party lists," the statement said.
"We also demand the activation of the Treachery Act to politically isolate the remnants of the dissolved NDP," the statement added.
El-Katatny also called for the activation of the Treachery Act which Cabinet had promised to amend, in addition to revising the parliament law and the new division of the constituencies.
Co-founder of Al-Adl Party Ahmed Shoukry told DNE that the amendments are a step forward in an attempt to reach a compromise between all involved parties.
"We in Al-Adl Party are not going to take any steps without consulting with other political parties, but we think that the new amendments are a middle ground to get out of the political crisis we are going through right now," he explained.
Analysts echoed the same opinion, describing the new amendments as the middle ground between the demands of the political forces and the checks and balances of SCAF.
"There has to be a balance between the interests of the political forces and the beneficiaries of tribalism and financial relations that still exist in many places in Egypt," Dina Shehata, political parties expert in Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies told DNE Monday.
"A compromise has to be reached, and I think that the law cannot be further amended," she added.
Professor of Law at Cairo University Anas Gaafar agreed with Shehata, saying that a representation of normal citizens who seek to contest the elections as independents should be granted.
"This talk about allowing the remnants of the NDP to control the individual seats is meaningless; political forces have to place their bets on the awareness of the Egyptian people who will never vote for someone who ruined the political life of Egyptians before Jan. 25," Gaafar said.
El-Malt said that political forces that met recently with the Military Chief of Staff and SCAF member Lt. Gen. Sami Anan presented a suggestion to include independents in the electoral process.
"We suggested that independents can form their own lists and contest elections through these lists," El-Malt added.
He explained that boycotting the elections is not an option at this historic moment, describing the boycott calls as a "negative attitude".
"We will contest the elections anyway, but the position adopted by SCAF reveals its real stance towards the revolution," he added.
"We are calling on the Egyptian masses to take to the streets on Sept. 30 in a million man march to declare two main demands: lifting the emergency law and putting a specific and detailed timeline for handing over power to an elected civilian authority," he added.
The Egyptian Bloc also expressed its intention to contest the elections, noting its confidence in the Bloc’s ability to compete.
"However, in case our demands are not met, the Egyptian Bloc will investigate all possible responses, and no response shall be excluded to achieve the demands of the revolution, putting this as a top priority over any political gains," the statement said.
The Democratic Alliance, a group of 34 parties headed by the FJP and the liberal Al-Wafd, will meet on Wednesday to discuss possible scenarios and responses to the new amendments, El-Katatny to DNE.