Egypt Holds Historic Elections - Kayli(15)
by Kayli Hall
(Paradise, Texas, United States)
Egypt is holding elections to select one-third of the members of their 498-member lower parliament, also known as the People’s Assembly. This parliament will be responsible for selecting a committee to rewrite Egypt’s constitution. The constitution, originally written in 1971, grants excessive powers to the President that threaten democracy. However, there have been challenges with the polling stations and nearly 964 violation complaints have been filed with the Egyptian Council for Human Rights including voting stations opening late and illegal campaigning taking place outside the stations. Despite these difficulties, the election turnout has been large, at about 50%, and the elections have been mostly free, fair, and peaceful.
The ruling military is holding these elections. This twenty-member council came to power in Egypt nine months ago after Hosni Mubarak, the former president and dictator who ruled for 60 years, was removed from power. The ruling council has promised to hand over power after it overseas the elections. Several different parties are involved in the elections that the military is running. The Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice party is currently in the lead with nearly 37% of the votes, the extremely conservative Islamic Salafi Nour party is in second with roughly 24% support, and the secular Egyptian Block is in third place with about 13% of the vote.
On November 28th-29th, a Monday and a Tuesday, the first of three rounds of voting took place. The election for the lower house of Parliament will finish on January 10, 2012. These are the first elections since President Mubarak was toppled. They are also historically significant because they are the first largely free elections. Egypt has had previous elections, but they widely thought to be rigged in favor of the ruling party. The election for the lower parliament is just the beginning of Egypt’s historical elections. Elections for the 270-member upper house of parliament, also known as the Shura Council, will be held from January 29th to March 11th. The presidential election will occur in July 2012. Thus, Egypt is transitioning into a democratically ruled country.
The reason why these elections are happening can be divided into two parts- why the military is holding them and the why the people are participating. These elections are being held by the military to calm the people. Tens of thousands of people had returned to protest in Tahrir square, demanding a power transfer in the government. This made it clear to the council that they must take action to placate the people if Egypt was to have peace. The people are voting because they want the voice in their government that so many people gave their lives to obtain. The Egyptian people are not willing to simply sit by and wait for tyranny to resurface, so they are taking action.