A study issued by Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, prepared by Rabi‘ al-Dannan and Basem Elkassem and supervised and edited by Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh, discussed constitutional developments and electoral processes in Egypt from 25 January 2011 until the end of 2015.
This study which is entitled “Constitutional Changes and Elections,” is the first volume of the series of studies “Egypt Between Two Eras: Morsi and al-Sisi: A Comparative Study.” It addresses the political, the constitutional, security, economic, and media conditions in Egypt during the terms of the two presidents.
The 79-page study shows that the constitution has been amended and put to a referendum on three occasions, legislative elections have been held twice, and the country has been ruled by three presidents.
>> Click here to download: Egypt Between Two Eras: Morsi and al-Sisi: A Comparative Study, (1) Constitutional Changes and the Elections (Arabic) (82 pages, 1 MB)
The Egyptian people, until the date of the military coup against President Morsi in July 2013, went through five democratic electoral processes, attested to being neutral and impartial, having been conducted under judicial supervision and monitored by local and international civil society institutions. All electoral processes conducted in the era of the Military Council demonstrated the power of the Islamic movements and their supporters, led by the Muslim Brothers (MB) movement, especially when the majority vote was with the amendment of the constitution on two occasions, making them a majority in the Parliament and Shura Council. All that culminated in the victory of Muhammad Morsi as a president despite the campaigns and propaganda against Islamic movements and their grassroots, which did not stop with the al-Sisi coup, leading to the invalidation of the Parliament, deposition of the president, and suspension of the constitution.
The study shows that the first referendum on the amendments proposed by the Committee of Constitutional Amendments wad held on 19/3/2011, when %77.27 of the Egyptians who took part in the voting said “yes” to the new constitutional changes, with a voter turnout reaching %41.19. The Egyptians also acknowledged the new Egyptian constitution during December 2012 through fair and transparent elections and broad participation, reflecting that the opinion of the vast majority supports the democratic process led by Islamists. The result of the referendum, which the opposition forces participated in, showed that %63.8 of the Egyptians who cast their votes said “yes” to the new constitution.
Despite preparations in advance, the voter turnout in the referendum on the 2014 constitution seemed quite low compared to 2012. The polling stations were almost empty, and the long queues that were notable in all the elections that followed the January 25 Revolution disappeared. However, the organizing committee announced that the percentage of those who supported the new constitution was %98.1 of the Egyptians who took part in the vote.
With regard to the legislative elections, the study states that during the period between 28/11/2011 and 11/1/2012, Egypt’s first elections after the January 25 Revolution witnessed wide participation and high turnout. The most significant result was when the Freedom and Justice party, established by the MB movement, obtained 235 seats in the Parliament, %47.2 of the total. The Nour party followed by 123 seats, %24 of the total, whereas the New Wafd party ranked third with 38 seats and the Egyptian Bloc came forth with 35 seats, …The total number of parties represented in the Parliament was 15. However, the Council lasted for five months only after the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt ruled that some articles of the parliamentary elections law were unconstitutional, and dissolved the Parliament, stressing that the whole composition of the Parliament was invalid since its election.
Shura Council elections were also conducted at the beginning of 2012, and the coalition formed by the Freedom and Justice party stole the scene when they won 105 seats; %58.3 of the total. The bloc led by the Nour party came second with 46 seats, %25. Whereas the Wafd party ranked third with 14 seats, %7.7.
The study stated that 2015 elections were the target of several accusations of electoral bribery when vote buying was happening everywhere, and “political capital” spread as a result. The pro-Sisi “For the Love of Egypt” alliance won 120 seats, which is the total number allocated to lists. The alliance included the Free Egyptians party, Wafd party and Nation’s Future party. Whereas the independents won the largest number of seats allocated to individuals, which is 448 seats. After that, Sisi appointed 28 members of Parliament (MPs).
With regard to the presidential election, the study indicated that the first presidential election after the January 25 Revolution included 13 candidates, not to mention dozens of those who did not complete the race for one reason or another. The atmosphere was competitive, and five candidates had a real chance to win; however, it ended up with a runoff with two last candidates: the Freedom and Justice party’s Muhammad Morsi and the last prime minister under Mubarak, Ahmad Shafiq. In the end, Morsi won the presidential race by a narrow margin of votes when he won %51.73 of the total number of valid votes, while Ahmad Shafiq won %48.27.
There was a high turnout and wide participation in the election in the hope of ending the transitional phase. It was manifested in a percentage of %51.85 of turnout in the second round after it was %46.4 in the first. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had tried to retain its control over the government through a complementary constitutional declaration, which it issued before the announcement of the second round’s results. The declaration granted immunity to MPs against removal, and gave them the right to decide all matters relating to the military until the promulgation of a new constitution. However, President Morsi put an end to the dominance of the Supreme Council after less than two months of being in power.
But the situation radically changed in the 2014 presidential election, which took place after developments seen by some Egyptians as a sinister plot and coup which overthrew the elected president. On the opposite side of the spectrum, other Egyptians deemed it a revolution against what they described as the rule of the MB movement.
Then in the light of the exclusion and prosecution of Islamists, particularly MB movement, al-Sisi won the presidential race with an overwhelming majority against Hamdeen Sabahi, receiving %96.9 of votes vis-à-vis %3.1 for the latter.
However, an election boycott had been notable as press reports talked about a low turnout fuelled mainly by the reluctance of the Egyptian youth to take part in the vote.
According to human rights centres, the Egyptian state authorities interfered in the presidential election in an attempt to improve the low turnout and help a certain candidate through direct and indirect threats of electoral penalties, intimidating citizens by public prosecution, extension of voting for a third day and offering electoral bribes.
The study showed that despite the gains and successes of the January 25 Revolution, the Egyptian course of events has deteriorated since the deposition of Morsi. The country is now under the control of the military forces thanks to a well-plotted coup by ‘Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to take up the reins of the government through his election as a president, reminding the world of the Egypt before the January 25 Revolution. In conclusion, recent events have shown that the outcomes have been far beyond the aspirations of the revolutionaries and the hopes they had during the Revolution; it was all much less than the sacrifices they made to make it successful. Similarly, there are no guarantees that if a candidate from outside the “deep state” was to win, there wouldn’t be another coup awaiting him.