ANALYSIS: Will presidential elections delay local councils elections in 2018?



Tue, 31 Oct 2017 - 10:43 GMT


Tue, 31 Oct 2017 - 10:43 GMT

Minister of Local Development, Hisham al-Sharif, said the elections cannot be held unless new regulations on decentralization are set – Photo compiled by Egypt Today/Mohamed Zain

Minister of Local Development, Hisham al-Sharif, said the elections cannot be held unless new regulations on decentralization are set – Photo compiled by Egypt Today/Mohamed Zain

CAIRO – 1 November 2017: Reports have been spreading over the likelihood of holding the local council (municipalities) elections on time. Last May, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail announced that municipalities elections are likely to be held next year, yet, political experts claim that may be difficult in 2018, as Egypt is due to hold the presidential elections as well.

Ismail has recently met with Minister of Justice Hossam Abdel-Rahim as well as a representative of the minister of finance to discuss the governmental measures required to mobilize municipal elections. The government has allocated nearly LE 1 billion ($56.6 million) in the budget of fiscal year 2017/18 for local council elections.

Members of the House of Representatives believe that municipalities elections will inevitably be delayed. The local councils’ election draft law is in itself still a source of controversy and disagreement, especially among those of the parliament's Local Administration Committee, and between parties and political forces.

For his part, Minister of Local Development, Hisham al-Sharif, said the elections cannot be held unless new regulations on decentralization are set.

The minister pointed out during a Monday press conference that the ministry is aiming to create a new identity and framework for local development and administration, which will firmly focus on providing fast and civilized services to citizens, completely curbing all sorts of corruption and manipulation.

"We need restraint because we are building a modern and powerful country under the leadership of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi," the minister said. "All of this requires financial supervision and overall wise governance."

Vice-chairman of the New Wafd Party Bahaa El-Din Abu Shoka told Egypt Today in an interview that it is likely that the elections will be delayed, even if the local administration law is stipulated. He also confirmed that the country is not yet ready for decentralization; for it requires new regulations that are founded on new administrative systems for modern governorates.

MP Ahmed Al-Segeny, who is head of the parliament's Local Administration Committee, pointed out that the committee has finished discussing the law with the government which is represented by the eight concerned ministries.

"There is another draft of the law that was submitted by MP Mohamed Al-Fayoumi, and I believe that there is no harm in discussing his draft as long as it will be for everyone's good," said Segeny. “I am keen that the draft law be accepted by different political forces and powers before being approved by the parliament,” he added.

The law aims to improve the regulation of local administration units’ work, giving them greater governance control and achieving an important step towards the decentralization of power.

The most glaring disagreements include the form of elections, in terms of lists and individuals, and the percentage of workers and peasants that are stipulated in the constitution. In fact, a number of political forces objected to the use of these terms since there is a specific connotation that comes with the term “worker,” which in Egypt can mean a person who does not have an average qualification.

Segeny believes that no one can predict the exact date that the local councils elections will be run, as the law has not yet been passed. "The draft law still needs a lot of work before it is finalized and ready for approval," argued Segeny.

He also maintained that the 156-article draft law aims to decentralize and democratize municipalities. "The draft, which is divided into four chapters, also seeks to regulate the elections of local councils," Segeny stated.

The law stipulates that while 25 percent of municipal seats will be allocated via the individual candidacy system, the remaining 75 percent will be elected from closed party lists. This mixed system is in accordance with the 2014 constitution and guarantees that marginalized groups such as women and Copts will be represented in city councils. The draft law also states that local city council elections should be held every four years and protects elected councils from being dismantled.

Segeny expects that the parliament will pass the law by the end of the 2018 parliamentarian session which commenced at the beginning of this month. The parliament's sessions lasts for nine months during which different laws are discussed and approved. The government has not deliberately delayed municipalities elections, said Segeny.

Local councils were dismantled by a decree from the Administrative Court on June 28, 2011. This was because municipalities were considered a tool in Hosni Mubarak's regime. Municipal elections are held in different governorates in Egypt, where candidates affiliated to different political parties compete in the elections.

Additional reporting by Mohamed Zain



Leave a Comment

Be Social