Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fathi Souror: Article 76 to be amended in 2007

The speaker of the Egyptian parliament announced that the highly controversial article 76 of the constitution, regulating presidential elections will be changed in 2007, the year has been dubbed the year of constitutional change and the speaker clainms that we will witness the largest change in the constitution since 1971.

Well, a change is long overdue, but the particular article 76 will face
some kind of cosmetic change for sure, it will perhaps marginally change the number of elected politicians from different governing bodies whose support is needeed for any candidate to be allowed to run for the highest office. Easing the Kafkaesque quest for any candidate, whose not from the NDP a tiny bit.

This is probably to facilitate a somewhat smother presidential election, one that actually will be able to field at least two candidates.

Are the Egyptians supposed to jump for joy now?

Will the new amendment include a reintroduction of a maximum cap of two terms in presidential office? perhaps the most important change in the constitution of 1971.

Why change an article, just two years after introducing it? Allright it was rushed through both houses of parliament, but which important bill isn´t?

UPDATE: I was a bit confused(it was late at night). Of course the legal parties needs five percent to participate, the independents needs the support of at least 250 of the elected representatives in the different political bodies(Parliament, Upper house and muncipal structures.)

The President adressed the issue at a meeting with NDP members of parliament on monday:

"I thought about ammending article 76 before you did, in order to strenghten parties," he said without elaborating on what the changes would be.

This makes the reason for the change crystal clear in my view, strenghten the parties, is not really the reason, the reason is to close the very limitided window for independents(read the muslim brotherhood). While securing the participation of at least one partyconnected candidate, and making a big deal of the change, as a way of listening to the critique from the opposition. The government will be able to portray this as a way of taking the second leap on the journey of deeping and widening the institutions of democratization.

If this will work is a whole different ballgame alltogheter. The right for independts to run for office has been tried in the constitutional court, when Kamel Khaled tried to run as an independent candidate to parliament in 1984, and was rejected. The Constitutional Court came to the conclusion that law 114(1983) violated the right of the independents to equal opportunity. Law 114(1983) was the cornerstone of the PR-system, and any attempt to introduce a system that will bar the independents from running for office, presidential or parliamentarian will probably run into trouble, like in 1984 when the President preemted this by dissolving the parliament, changing law 114(83), and hold new parliamentary elections two years early in 1987.

One last question: If the stated aim is to strenghten the parties, then why not change the party law, making it easier to form a political party would perhaps mean something?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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11:38 AM  

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