Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi. Photo Reuters
President Mohamed Mursi has called parliamentary
elections that will began on April 27 and finish in late June,
a four-stage vote that the Islamist leader hopes will conclude
Egypt's turbulent transition to democracy.
The vote will take place in a country deeply divided between
Islamist parties that have come out on top in all elections
held since Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011 and a more
secular-minded opposition that has struggled to get
The Islamist-led administration hopes the election of the new
parliament will help stabilise Egypt so an economy in deep
crisis can start to recover from spasms of unrest and
violence that have punctuated the transition.
The new parliament will convene on July 6, according to a
decree issued by Mursi just before midnight. Earlier in the
day the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, adopted
an electoral law as amended by the Constitutional Court,
clearing the way for Mursi to set the date for the lower
Under the new Egyptian constitution adopted in December,
Mursi must secure parliament's approval for his choice of
prime minister, giving the chamber more power than it had
under Mubarak, when it was no more than a rubber stamp.
The Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the
Muslim Brotherhood, has said it will seek an outright
majority in the election.
Each stage of the vote will comprise an initial two days of
voting, with a further two days of voting slated for run-offs
for closely contested seats. Mohamed Gadallah, a legal
adviser to Mursi, had earlier said the voting would begin on
The vote would be held in phases in different regions because
of a shortage of poll supervisors. The last lower house
election, which was won by Islamists, lasted from late
November 2011 until January the following year.
Mursi had been expected to ratify the electoral law by Feb.
25. The lower house was dissolved last year after the court
ruled the original law used to elect it was unfair.
On Monday the Constitutional Court demanded changes to five
articles of the revised electoral law. The Shura Council
accepted this ruling and adopted the legislation without a
vote on Thursday.
"The decision of the Constitutional Court is binding and we
have no right to vote on it. It must be carried out," said
Ahmed Fahmy, the Council's speaker.
The new law bars members of parliament from changing their
political affiliation once elected. Under ousted president
Hosni Mubarak, independents were often cajoled into joining
the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), which monopolised
parliament and political life before the 2011 revolution.
The law also stipulates that one third of the lower house
should be designated for independents and bans former members
of the now defunct NDP from participating in politics for at
least 10 years.