Since the 1950s, there has been a regulation in Egypt that requires half of all members of the Egyptian parliament to be "workers and farmers". This regulation will also apply to the result of Egypt's first free elections, which are due to take place on 28 November.
In the past, Egypt's parliamentary farmers were a very special breed indeed, and if the military, which has been ruling the country since Mubarak was ousted, has its way, they will remain so. After all, according to Amr Musa, Egypt's former foreign minister and secretary-general of the Arab League, 90 per cent of these farmers were retired army officers.
Although the election is only two months away, Egypt does not yet have an electoral law. The Supreme Military Council has already had three versions of a law drafted, and they all had to be withdrawn in the face of public pressure. Every single draft reflects the fact that the generals are striving to exert the greatest possible influence on the composition of the parliament.
For the first draft, the military quite simply adopted Mubarak's old electoral law. In accordance with this law, all members of parliament were elected as individuals (even though they indicated the party to which they belonged). The military claims that this system ensures direct contact between members and their voters.
But anyone not in uniform was up in arms about this first draft because it was clear to one and all that this law would open the floodgates to manipulation. It would mean that local notabilities with money, who had been part of the Mubarak system, would be elected to parliament.
By Rainer Hermann; Translated by Aingeal Flanagan
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