April 27, 2011, 2:11 p.m.
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has released a briefing paper on the current political environment in Egypt.
Much has happened in Egypt since the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) issued a Briefing Paper on 5 February 2011 entitled Elections in Egypt: Key Challenges for Credible and Competitive Elections. President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on 11 February, and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took power, suspending the Constitution, dissolving the People’s Assembly (PA) and the Shura Council, and declaring its intention to hand power back to civilians before the end of 2011. The SCAF held a referendum on 19 March to approve amendments to the 1971 Constitution ahead of the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2011. On 30 March the SCAF issued a Constitutional Declaration setting out the constitutional framework that will apply in Egypt until a new constitution can be drafted following parliamentary and presidential elections. There have been calls for parliamentary elections to be delayed to allow more time for new and emerging political forces to become established and to prepare to contest the elections. Several people have announced their intention to run for president. The U.S. Government and a number of European countries have indicated their willingness to support democratic elections in Egypt.
Previous elections in Egypt have not been free and fair. Although the March 2011 referendum showed some improvements, there are still a number of important issues that must be addressed before the next election in 2011. In this updated Briefing Paper, IFES provides a preliminary overview of these issues.
The Constitutional Framework
The Constitutional Drafting Committee’s Proposals
One of the SCAF’s first acts was to suspend the 1971 Constitution and appoint an 8-member Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) of legal and constitutional experts to draft amendments to the Constitution designed to prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections prior to the resumption of civilian rule. The CDC did not engage in an open or consultative process before it released its proposals on 26 February. The most significant changes proposed by the CDC were as follows: