Voting begins for second round of Shura Council elections

The second round of elections for Egypt’s upper house, the Shura Council, began Tuesday.

The end of this round, after runoffs, will mark the official conclusion of polling for Egypt’s first post-Hosni Mubarak Parliament, for which elections began in late November last year.

Polling will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday in 14 governorates: Aswan, Beheira, Beni Suef, Giza, Ismailia, Kafr al-Sheikh, Luxor, Matrouh, Minya, Port Said, Qalyubiya, Sharqiya, Sohag and Suez.

In this round, 536 candidates are competing for 60 party list-based seats, while 891 are running for 30 single-winner seats. Runoffs are slated to begin on 22 February.

The first round of the elections, held earlier this month in 13 governorates including Cairo, mirrored those for the Parliament’s lower house, the People’s Assembly, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party dominating voting, followed by the Salafi-oriented Nour Party. However, voter turnout in the first round of Shura Council elections was limited to 15 percent, and only 6 percent in its runoff phase.

Under Mubarak, the Shura Council did not play a strong role in legislating, merely reviewing draft laws and submitting recommendations on them before referring them to the more important People’s Assembly. This limited role remained unchanged through the March 2011 Constitutional Declaration, prompting some critics to call for the council to be dissolved.

Source: Egypt Independent