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Elections explainer: A map to the madness

The parliamentary elections are fast approaching after a whirlwind summer of candidates switching sides, parties jumping coalitions and political infighting.

But how do the elections actually work? What is an electoral list? Does every single party have the word Egypt in its name?

Mada Masr has prepared a visual map to answer all these questions and more.

List seats vs individual seats

Part of the reason why the parliamentary electoral system is confusing is that seats are elected through both a closed list system (120 seats) and on an individual basis (448 seats).

The individual seat system is fairly clear — one candidate runs for one seat in a particular district. Voters cast their ballots for him or her, not for a party or group. Districts are represented by one, two or three seats, depending on the district’s population or number of registered voters.

The electoral list system is slightly more confusing. Electoral lists can be composed of a single party, coalitions of parties or of individuals. The key thing is that no matter how the list is composed, voters are selecting one cohesive list, not cherry-picking individual candidates therein.

An electoral list will receive a fixed number of seats in parliament. Because this is a closed list system (as opposed to a proportionate list), a list that comes first in a district wins all the seats allocated for that district. Seats allocated to lists are divided into four geographical districts. Two of those districts are represented by 45 seats each, while the other two are allocated 15 seats each. 

Parliamentary Makeup Graph 2015

Parliamentary Makeup Graph 2015

As can be seen in the above image, electoral lists only get about 20 percent of the seats. Individuals get 75 percent, while the remaining 5 percent represents the 28 members of parliament that the president gets to hand-pick. Electoral lists only compete in four districts: Giza and Upper Egypt, the East Delt, the West Delta, and Cairo and South and Central Delta.

This preponderance of individual seats is due to the new electoral laws issued in April. Political observers have criticized this distribution as taking power away from political parties and potentially giving a greater advantage to individuals with money, power and tribal connections.

Regions and stages

The first stage of voting takes place on October 17-18 for Egyptians abroad, and October 18-19 for domestic voters. Runoff elections will be held on October 26-27 for Egyptians abroad, and 27-28 for domestic voters.

Fourteen governorates in Upper Egypt and the West Delta will vote in the first stage, with 226 of the seats going to individual candidates and 60 to electoral lists. This means that approximately 21 percent of the seats will come from the lists, while 79 percent of the seats will be filled by individual candidates.

The final results of the first stage will be announced on October 30.

Upper Egypt parliament seats 2015

Upper Egypt parliament seats 2015

Most of the seats represent Upper Egypt, and the majority of seats dedicated to electoral lists are in Sohag and Giza.

West Delta parliament seats 2015

West Delta parliament seats 2015

West Delta residents will vote for 71 seats in the first round.

Voters in 13 governorates across Cairo and the East Delta will head to the polls in the second stage of elections. A total of 282 seats are up for grabs in round two, with 208 for Cairo and 74 representing the East Delta. Of the total 282 seats, 222 are for individual candidates and 60 are for electoral lists.

2015 parliament seats for Cairo

2015 parliament seats for Cairo

In Cairo and South and Central Delta, most seats are allocated to Cairo Governorate (63) and Daqahlia Governorate (37). Kafr al-Sheikh gets the least, with only 20.

East Delta parliament seats 2015

East Delta parliament seats 2015

The East Delta is one of the least-represented constituencies in parliament, with only 74 seats — of which 37 represent Sharqiya Governorate. North Sinai has 6 seats and South Sinai has 4.

Parties, coalitions and candidates

There are many different political parties, coalitions and lists competing for votes, and many of them have changed their positions several times in the lead-up to the first round of voting.

Electoral lists geographic distribution 2015 parliament

Electoral lists geographic distribution 2015 parliament

The For the Love of Egypt list openly supports President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and is widely assumed to receive state support. Parties on the list include the Nation’s Future Party, the Wafd Party and the Free Egyptians Party, among several others. The list is competing in Cairo, Upper Egypt, the West Delta and the East Delta.

The Egypt list, an alliance between the Independence Current and the Egyptian Front coalitions, is considered For the Love of Egypt’s primary opposition in Cairo and the West Delta. The Egyptian Front in particular has gained notoriety for its connection to disgraced politician and former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq, whose return to the political scene has sparked controversy. Though he is not formally running in the elections, Shafiq is the public face of the National Movement Party, which is in the Egyptian Front.

Another interesting player is the Salafi Nour Party, the only religious party contesting the elections, which is running as a list in the West Delta and Cairo. In recent weeks, Nour has faced a smear campaign from media outlets accusing it being in cahoots with the banned Muslim Brotherhood and plotting to allow it to infiltrate parliament. 

For more information on parties and key players in the elections, check out Mada Masr’s infographic on who’s who in the elections. 

Note: This article has been edited since it was first published.