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Egypt: Supreme Constitutional Court Declares Draft Election Law Unconstitutional

(Feb. 20, 2013) On February 18, 2013, <?Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court announced that the draft law on organizing parliamentary elections violated the country's current Constitution. Accordingly, the Court sent the draft back to the Shura Council (the upper chamber of the parliament) to be re-written. Article 177 of the Constitution grants the Supreme Constitutional Court the right to review the constitutionality of pending versions of laws governing parliamentary and presidential elections. (The Comments of the Supreme Constitutional Court on the Election Law [in Arabic], AL MASRI AL YOUM (Feb.18, 2013).)

In its ruling, the Court noted that the draft law violates articles 55, 113, 229, and 232 of the Constitution. For example, the Court argued that the pending law violates article 229 by applying a different definition of the term “worker” than had been used in the Constitution. The Court also contended that the law as drafted contravenes article 55 by prohibiting members of parliament from changing their political affiliations after being elected. Additionally, the proposed law failed to divide the electoral districts appropriately based on the number of constituents and is therefore in violation of article 113. Finally, the Court claimed that the pending legislation goes against article 232 in its failure to mention that members of the former ruling parties must be barred from pursuing political activities, including running in parliamentary and presidential elections, for ten years. (Id.; The Egyptian Constitution of 2012, 51(duplicate)(b) OFFICIAL GAZETTE 3 (Dec. 25, 2012).)

News sources assert that the decision of the Supreme Constitutional Court may delay the parliamentary election now scheduled to take place in April. (The Comments of the Supreme Constitutional Court on the Election Law, supra.)

According to news reports, on February 21, 2013, the Shura Council approved the law on elections. This action allows the President of Egypt to determine a date for the election of the People’s Assembly (the lower chamber of the parliament). The President is expected to sign the law by February 25. (Shura Council Votes on the Amendments of the Egyptian Election Law [in Arabic], AL ARABIA (Feb. 21, 2013).)