Law passed to protect parliament from dissolution

The State Council approved a law on Tuesday stipulating that the upcoming parliament is immune to dissolution in the case that the Supreme Constitutional Court deems the parliamentary elections law unconstitutional, according to local media outlets.

The law, which had been proposed by the Cabinet, was passed after numerous attempts to amend the parliamentary elections law, which the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled as unconstitutional last March. While the court and proponents argue that this move will ensure the stability of the parliament, critics say that the decision undermines the Constitution itself.

The draft law proposes that the parliament continues its term in the case that the court decides that the parliamentary elections law is unconstitutional, and that the court findings be applied for the next elected parliament.

Law professor and constitutional expert Mohamed Nour Farahat criticizing the new law on his Facebook page, saying that the judiciary is already impervious to criticism by law, and that now the parliament will also be legally immune from dissolution. He foresees that the next parliament will work on protecting the position of the president as well.

Farahat adds that the president is being pushed toward disregarding the Constitution, repeating the mistake of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

“History repeats itself, and men of law prove to be the flaw of every ruler,” he adds.

Morsi came under fire in November 2012 when he issued a constitutional decree stipulating that his decisions were immune from legal challenge by the Supreme Constitutional Court, and protecting the Shura Council from dissolution. The People’s Assembly had been disbanded months earlier, after the court deemed the elections laws that it was founded on as unconstitutional.

Controversies around the constitutionality of the parliamentary elections laws were at the heart of the delay in elections, originally slated to be held six months after the Constitution was passed in January 2014.

In March, the Supreme Constitutional Court found the constituency divisions law issued by the president to be unconstitutional, effectively postponing the elections that were scheduled that month.

The court stated that the law failed to ensure equal representation for voters in different constituencies.

Leading Democratic Current member and former Social Solidarity Minister Ahmed al-Boraie foresaw at the time that the issue would cause a real crisis, maintaining that constitutional requirements for the division of constituencies were mathematically difficult to meet.

Article 102 of the Constitution states that “the division of constituencies shall be defined by the law, taking into account the fair representation of constituencies and governorates and the equitable representation of voters.”

As the population of different governorates vary drastically, it is difficult to meet these two criterions simultaneously.

Since then, the law has been passed back and forth between the State Council and the Supreme Elections Committee to ensure its constitutionality in preparation for the president to issue the final law.

The election of the parliament is the last step in the roadmap put forth by the current regime in July 2013.

Foreign governments often criticize President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for governing without an elected parliament, which is seen as a crucial missing element in the legitimacy of the current administration.

Hazem Koura, president of the Future Party, rejected the new law in a statement issued on Wednesday, considering it an attempt by the government to find a way around its inability to draft constitutional laws.

Koura points out the double standards in the government’s rejection of Morsi’s constitutional declaration but use of similar tactics in its own administration.