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Early results show independents seize unprecedented power in new parliament

As the second and final phase of the parliamentary elections comes to an end, early results show that independent candidates will hold a critical bloc — a marked shift from Egypt’s long-standing tradition of majority parties ruling the parliament.

The High Elections Committee said it would announce the final results Friday, but unofficial tallies issued by candidates and media outlets suggest that independent candidates won 317 out of 596 seats, thus seizing more than 50 percent of the much-anticipated parliament and becoming the key decision maker for passing legislation.

The parliament is still not entirely complete, however, as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi still has to appoint 28 members of parliament (MPs), and elections will be repeated in four electoral districts due to violations committed in the first round of voting.

The Free Egyptians Party came out on top with 65 seats, followed by the Nation’s Future Party with 50 seats and the Wafd Party with 45 seats. The Conference Party and the Nour Party, the only Islamist party in the running, each won 12 seats.

The 2014 Constitution stipulates an absolute majority vote for parliamentary decrees, meaning 50 percent plus one of the votes. Laws must be passed with at least one-third of the vote, and laws amending the Constitution require a two-third majority.

The party blocs will thus be powerless without the support of the independent MPs, as they only hold a combined 42 percent of the seats, according to the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm’s tally.

According to the parliament law issued in 2014 and amended by Sisi last August, MPs who change their party affiliations after entering parliament will lose their seat. This closes the door on the formerly ruling National Democratic Party’s common practice of recruiting independent MPs to their party to increase the influence of their bloc.

Nonetheless, the powerful and staunchly pro-Sisi electoral list For the Love of Egypt announced that it is already finalizing agreements with independent MPs to create an alliance uniting two-thirds of the members, thus boosting the list’s voting power. For the Love of Egypt won all 120 seats allocated to the list system, and it is also associated with the parties that garnered the most seats in the individual seats system.

The 2012 Parliament — Egypt’s last elected legislative body — was dominated by the Islamist bloc. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party won 47.2 percent of the seats, followed by the Salafi Nour Party with over 20 percent. The Supreme Constitutional Court dissolved the 2012 Parliament after ruling the electoral system unconstitutional.