On January 13, 2013, 11 am, the Egyptian Constitutional Front held an open discussion workshop entitled "Fair Election Safeguards" at the headquarters of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR). The workshop was attended by professors of law, legal experts, public figures, media specialists, representatives of political parties, NGOs, political and human rights' activists.
During the discussion, the attendees called upon the parliamentarians, discussing the parliamentary election and political participation laws to take into account all the international standards related to fairness and transparency of elections.
The attendees confirmed that having the same electoral problems within the Egyptian elections before and after the revolution raises doubts concerning fairness and transparency of the electoral processes.
Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, the head of EOHR, stated that the international observation missions give the international community a good impression on the electoral process. For example, the activities and findings of Carter Center's observation missions during the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2011/2012 indicated that Egypt is witnessing a new phase on the way to democracy.
Dr. Gamal Zahran, professor of political science, Suez Canal University, former parliamentary member, said that the Egyptian should have been given a consensual constitution, agreed on by all the political groups and minorities. The same is the electoral system; election is not operated by only one political powers. He called upon the legislators to reconsider the categories of farmers and workers that were given 50 percent of the parliamentary seats and allowing the parliamentarians to have other jobs, which can affect their parliamentary works. How can a parliamentarian journalist monitor the performance of the parliament, for example?
He also criticized issuing a joint amended draft law including both the parliamentary election and political participation laws.
Dr. Ramy Mohsen, head of the Parliamentary Studies Center of Al Moatamar Political Party, criticized the attempts aim at giving the majority of seats to a certain current through the high number of draft laws discussed by Shura Council these days. The new election law does not specify any important nomination standards, which enables any person or group of persons to nominate themselves in the electoral lists, he added. He also called for fair electoral redistricting on demographic basis. Currently, some provinces do not have enough parliamentary seats and others have extra. For example, both Cairo and Giza are in need to 15 additional parliamentary seats while Fayoum and Sohag have got 15 seats extra; all the Egyptian provinces must be well represented in the parliament.
Mr. Esam Sheha, board member of Al Wafd Political party, stated that the Egyptians hoped to have new perfect legislations after their revolution, but they found 70 draft laws planned to be discussed in absence of the People's Assembly. He criticized news on enabling those who did not serve in the army, the obligatory service, to nominate themselves as parliamentary members. He called upon the legislators to mention clearly the full juridical supervision on the electoral process starting filtration and preparation of voter lists, campaigning, voting, sorting, counting and election result declaration. He also called for having two election days for each phase in order to enable all people to vote. He also stressed on the necessity of enabling local and international civil society organization to have electoral observation missions observing all the polling stations in Egypt freely.
Mr. Abdel Rahman Khair, former Shura Council member, said that we do not have fair electoral districting and the workers are not well represented. The Islamists are on their way to control syndicates, he added.
Mr. Ahmed Fawzy, secretary general of the Egyptian Democratic Social Party, stated that the discussion on the parliamentary election law is an imaginary dialogue; all the world countries have got only one law for elections, but Egypt has got three. The intended election law must come in accordance with Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which mentions clearly electoral observation of civil society exactly like what happens in Lebanon and Morocco. Fawzy called for empowering the High Election Commission to cover the electoral process that starts with nomination and ends with results' declaration in addition to founding a new policing authority belongs to the High Election Commission to have investigations on the electoral violations' complaints.