The Cabinet committee responsible for drafting the new electoral constituencies law submitted its final draft to the Cabinet on Tuesday in preparation for the issuing of the law.
The new law distributes individual seats into 231 constituencies, assigning constituencies to marginalized areas including Shalateen and Nubia as well as new communities such as October 6.
According to the elections law interim President Adly Mansour passed in June, 420 out of the 540 seats of the parliament are allocated to individual seats. 120 seats are elected through an absolute list system, by which the winning party in each electoral constituency gets all the seats.
The new law attempts to evade risks of unconstitutionality that have led to the disbandment of the 2012 parliament. Its makers claim to have moved beyond the historical political distribution of constituencies that has always been used by the party in power to improve their performance in elections.
In the 2005 and 2010 parliamentary elections, the Mubarak regime changed the constituency distribution to diminish the chances of the opposition. This practice led to a parliament almost free of opposition members in 2010.
Similarly, the Muslim Brotherhood regime manipulated the distribution of constituencies ahead of the 2012 parliamentary elections to strengthen their position. The regime ruling at the time created large constituencies that the newly formed political parties struggled to cover, merged areas where their support was limited (such as Maadi – an upscale district in southern Cairo) with other areas where they had a following, and relied on rural areas where they enjoyed the most support.
The law also sets quotas in the lists for Christians, women, special needs individuals, Egyptians abroad, farmers, workers and youth.
Article 102 in the 2014 Constitution had provisions for the distribution of electoral constituencies, stating that distribution should be based on “the fair representation of constituencies and governorates and the equitable representation of voters.”
This was a challenge due to the difference in population density between different governorates, which makes it difficult to guarantee both a fair representation of governorates and equal distribution of voters per seat.
In its ruling in 2012 disbanding the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament, the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) stated that the parliament did not adhere to the principle of fair representation, arguing that governorates with similar populations have been given a different number of seats.
While the SCC acknowledged that it would be difficult to eliminate these differences, it required that they be kept at a minimum.
In 2012, there were large variations in the number of seats allocated to governorates with similar populations. For example, Aswan and Ismailia have similar populations; however, the first was allocated 12 seats and the second was given six.
These variations remain in the new distribution but have been decreased. Now Aswan has eight seats and Ismailia has six.
Due to a minimum of six seats per governorate that was mandated in 2012, some of the governorates with the smallest populations got a disproportionately large representation. These include Port Said, North Sinai and Matrouh.
The seats allocated to these governorates have decreased in the new distribution, giving these three governorates four instead of six seats.
The law distributes the list system into four constituencies: Cairo and the mid and south Delta, Upper Egypt, East Delta and Alexandria.