At stake in this referendum:
- The approval through popular referendum of the amended Constitution of Egypt.
Description of government structure:
- Chief of State: President Adly MANSOUR[i]
- Head of Government: Prime Minister Hazem AL BEBLAWI
- Assembly: Egypt has a bicameral Parliament consisting of the Advisory Council (Majilis Al-Shura) with 264 seats and the People's Assembly (Majlis Al-Sha'b) with 498 seats.[ii]
Description of electoral system:
- There are no thresholds for turnout or approval of the referendum. There is no law that specifically governs how the referendum is administered. However, Law No. 73 of 1956 on the Practice of Political Rights stipulates that the High Judicial Election Commission will administer the elections and that the polling committees are to be headed by a member of a judicial body. Furthermore, Article 39 of the March 2011 Constitutional Declaration also states that judges are responsible for overseeing counting and tabulation.
Provisions of the referendum:
- Constitution of Egypt: Voters will be asked to approve the Constitution of Egypt, as amended by a committee of 10 legal experts followed by a committee of 50 representatives of major interest groups and stakeholders, including military figures, religious leaders, women, human rights activists, and academics. Most of the provisions of the constitution adopted in 2012 under former President MORSI’s administration were kept. Changes to the Constitution include:
- Islamic Sharia is reaffirmed as the principle source of legislation, but a controversial Article that allowed religious leaders to determine its implications for public policy is removed. Interpretation of Sharia will be based solely on “the relevant texts in the collected rulings of the Supreme Constitutional Court.”
- A Provisional Article (valid for 8 years from ratification) requires the Defense Minister to be approved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. An Article that allows civilians to be tried by military tribunals for crimes against the military is maintained but further specified.
- The language protecting women’s rights is strengthened, ensuring equal rights in all “civil, political, economic, social, and cultural” matters, including their right to participate in government and be protected from gender-based violence.
- New language is added outlawing discrimination, torture, and “arbitrary forced displacement.”
- Political parties cannot be formed on the basis of religion and cannot include military wings.
- The Parliament will have the right to withdraw confidence in the President. If a two-thirds majority approves, a popular referendum will be held whereby Egyptians can vote for an early presidential election to be held within 60 days. If the President violates the Constitution, he can be impeached with a two-thirds majority in Parliament. The Prosecutor-General will be appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council instead of the President.
- Neither the Advisory Council nor the quota for workers and farmers are mentioned, and it is assumed they will both be abolished. Women are ensured “adequate representation” in parliament.
- Interim President MANSOUR will have the right to reverse the chronology of elections and hold the presidential election before the parliamentary elections if he so chooses.
Population and voter registration:
- Population: 89,579,670 (2014)
- Registered Voters: 53,848,911 (2014)
· Female Population: 44,321,011 (2014)
· Is Egypt a signatory to CEDAW: Yes (16 July 1980)
· Has Egypt ratified CEDAW: Yes (18 September 1981)
· Gender Quota: Yes
· Female candidates in this election: Yes
· Number of Female Parliamentarians: 10 (following the 2011 elections)
· Human Development Index Position: 108 (2014)
· Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) Categorization: Very High (2014)
· Is Egypt a signatory to CRPD: Yes (4 April 2007)
· Has Egypt ratified CRPD: Yes (14 April 2008)
· Population with a disability: 13,436,950 (est.)
[i] President Mohammed MORSI was removed from power on July 5, 2013. The military announced that the President of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly MANSOUR would be acting President until elections could be held.
[ii] Presently both the Advisory Council (Majilis Al-Shura) and the People's Assembly (Majlis Al-Sha'b) have been dissolved.