Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to present joint lists

Via Maan News, 17 March:

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has reached agreement in principle to run a joint list with other parties in the next parliamentary elections, its deputy leader said …

The groups at the meeting, which included the liberal Wafd party and the leftist Nasserist and Karama parties, issued a joint declaration after a press conference that called for a series of democratic reforms.

8 thoughts on “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to present joint lists

  1. How would this work? Egypt essentially has an MNTV, two-round system with a district magnitude of two. Are they all going to divide the districts among themselves to run only two candidates in each district? The parties ran joint lists in the 1980s while they had a PR system, but that was to clear the eight percent threshold. (Plus an average district magnitude of nine and a rigged seat allocation formula discriminated against smaller parties).

  2. David, thanks for this additional context. I was unsure of the electoral system. I had remembered some form of 2-round system, but some sources said list-PR. So apparently it was changed at some point from the latter to the former.

    If it is M=2 and two rounds, what is the threshold for winning in the first round? And I assume each voter may cast two votes, from your mention of MNTV (although I would consider that term applicable only to one-round, top-M, rules).

  3. Glad I could help in some way. They had closed list PR until 87, then one election – 1990 – with a parallel system, then moved to what they have now in 1995. Yes, each elector gets two votes with the top two candidates getting elected. The threshold for winning is 50 percent, so if 1000 people cast ballots, a candidate must get at least 500 votes to avoid a second round. Another confusing rule is a stipulation -mandated by the constitution I believe – that half of parliament must be “workers or farmers.” I don’t know how this nebulous distinction is determined, but it means that one of the two members elected in each district must be from that group. So if one non worker or farmer were to clear the threshold in the first round, the second round would be between the top two workers or farmers for the remaining seat.

  4. I believe that the threshold in the first round would be over half of valid ballots (each of which would contain up to two votes, yes).

    This is complicated by the demand that at least one of the two who are elected have to be a “worker” or “farmer”, which I believe are defined categories in official identity papers. If two doctors, say, got over the threshold then only the one with most votes would be elected. A second round would be held between the top two candidates who were classified as workers or farmers.

    The number of candidates in the second round is limited to twice the number of seats. So if none were elected in the first round, then it follows that among the four that would proceed to the second round at least two would be workers or farmers, and that at least one of the latter would be elected, even if they lagged behind in votes.

    In addition to these 444 constituency seats (I am searching for district maps or descriptions by the way) there have since 2010 also been 64 seats reserved for women, with two being elected by these same rules from each governorate (province). Three governorates are split into two such constituencies.

    Finally, up to ten more seats are appointed by the President, so the full lower chamber contains 518 members. My source:

    There is also a partially elected upper house of 264 members, 88 of which are elected every three years for six year terms, and 88 of which are appointed by the President. I am short on details here.

    It is still possible that the military council, having taken over legislative powers from the dissolved chambers, may change the electoral system ahead of the elections. They really should, but I have seen no indication of this and it appears then that the parties are preparing for an election held under the old rules, under which fragmentation in the first round should be avoided. The MB has adopted a strategy of only going for around 30-40% of the seats, and it would seem like at least many of the established minor parties are latching on to their coattails (it could also be that the MB themselves are unsure about their true support level now). Regardless, the risk is that the elections this summer may not turn out to be all that competitive.

  5. So the denominator in the first-round threshold is voters, not votes, correct? That could make a difference, given that voters can cast two votes, but some non-trivial number may cast only one. (Or must a ballot contain two votes to be valid?)

    The quota on occupation of legislators is certainly interesting. And weird.

  6. The explanations I have read are always a little unclear, so I only infer that this is the exact legal threshold, but it would be logical and consistent. Likewise, I cannot guarantee that ballots with only one vote are accepted, but the opposite would seem bizarre.

    It would be great if fledgling democracies would publish good English versions of online information, so that an interested global audience could “observe” a little from afar. I hope Egypt does better than in the future. And yes, my real motives for saying this are almost entirely selfish.

    Sorry, David, I did not see your comment before posting mine.

  7. Not a problem Espen. Electors are indeed required to cast two votes for their ballot to be valid. So a candidate needs to get half of the people voting +1, or in the first round this would equal 1/4 of the total votes. Your information about profession being defined categories in official identity papers is useful. What I’m still unsure of is if ballots are considered valid if an elector doesn’t vote for one worker or farmer. I agree, the public information out there is pretty bad. I don’t think the Egyptian government has historically had an interest in engaging in civic education.

  8. The two-vote requirement was a little surprising, but there you go. I have seen nothing that indicates that at least one of those votes must be for a worker or farmer, and in fact the legal eventuality that two candidates not of those categories could win absolute majorities simultaneously would seem to logically prove that there is no such requirement.

    I found a description of these categories included in the reports from the 1969-87 elections here:

    “A worker is any person who, in industry, agriculture or the services, is engaged in manual or intellectual work, is dependent upon his work for his livelihood, and does not possess any diploma from a university, institute of higher education or military school. However, any person who started out in life as a worker and later obtained a university diploma but has remained affiliated to his worker’s trade union is regarded as a worker, notwithstanding his having obtained such diploma. A farmer is any person who, together with his wife and minor children, does not own more than 10 feddans (four hectares) of land, and for whom
    agriculture is the sole income and occupation. He must, moreover, reside in a rural area.”

    Elsewhere I have read that occupation, education et cetera are listed in identity papers, so whether someone is a “worker” or “farmer” would presumably follow from a common source register.

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