5 Things to Know About Egypt’s Upcoming Senate Elections

An Egyptian man talks on his mobile phone outside the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament in Egypt. AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD HAMS

In less than three weeks, over 60 million Egyptian voters will be able to elect the first upper chamber since 2014. Awaiting the Nation Elections Authority’s (NEA) final list of candidates, the main majority of candidates has already become clear through the initial approval process.

The upper chamber, previously known in Egypt as the Shura (consultative) Council, is now referred to as the Senate (magles el-shiyoukh) according to the constitutional amendments that included its reinstatement.

1. Voting will commence on 11-12 August and the run-off will take place on 8-9 September

NEA received the last documents from potential candidates on 18 July at 2 pm. The names of the candidates who have met the conditions – such as being over 35 years of age, holding a university degree or an equivalent, and being included in the voter database – will be available to vote for on 11-12 August by a closed list system. The results of the initial voting will be announced on 19 August. The run-off elections, which will determine the final outcome of the elections will take place on 8-9 September, and their results will be announced on 16 September.

2. Egyptians abroad will be voting ahead

As in all elections, expat voting will take place earlier than voting in Egypt. In this case, the voting will be on 9-10 August and the run-off on on 6-7 September. Due to the complications presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, ballots will be cast by mail rather than in person at embassies and consulates.

A woman casting her ballot in Al-Mahalla. Photo courtesy of Nehal El-Sherif. Retrieved from Flickr.

3. One third of the Senate’s members will be appointed by the President

The Senate will comprise of 300 members, and the voting will determine two thirds of those will be appointed by the President. This system is designed to allow for the representation of minorities and the presence of experts in various fields, thus allowing the Senate to play a complementary role to the lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives (magles el-nuwwab).

4. The Senate will review legislation before it is taken up by the House of Representatives

Upper chambers of parliament have different roles in different states. In the case of Egypt, it will represent an additional step in the legislation process, reviewing and assessing laws prior to being presented to the House of Representatives.

5. This is Egypt’s first upper chamber election since 2014

The 2014 constitution did not include an upper house of parliament. However, Egypt has a history of upper chambers. Under the 1923 constitution, the parliament in Egypt was bi-cameral (i.e. having two chambers), consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The Upper Chamber was resolved in 1952 with the 23 July Revolution. Egypt’s parliament remained a single chamber until 1980, when amendments were made to the 1971 constitution reinstating the upper chamber by the new name of Shura Council. The 2013 constitution maintained the upper chamber by that same name before it was removed again from the 2014 constitution.