EGYPT: first post-Mubarak legislative elections - democratic transition launched

By Italy - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

ROME, Italy, November 28, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Egypt launches its first post-Mubarak legislative election process, and with it the start of a complex democratic transition. Forty million Egyptians will have the right to cast their vote for the 498 seats of the people's assembly, equivalent to the lower house (Chamber of Deputies), and 270 of the Shura, comparable to the upper house (Senate). The occupants of the parliament will not be seated or inaugurated until mid-March. The voting is to begin with the people's assembly in the first of three electoral turns.

Each vote will be counted one week later. The first to vote will be the citizens of Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Port Said. The voters of Suez, Aswan and Ismailia will turn out on 14 December and voting in the Sinai and along the Mediterranean coast will take place on 3 January. Election to the Shura will be by a mixed system: two-thirds of the seats will be assigned by the proportional system and one-third by a non-proportional system. The results will be announced after each ballot count, while the proportional will be made public no later than 13 January 2012. Approximately 40 parties are participating with over 15,000 candidates. These elections in Egypt, following the elections for the Constituent Assembly in Tunisia, are important stages in a highly complex democratic process launched by popular revolt after decades of frustration and the repression of fundamental freedoms.

Italy hopes that such freedoms, beginning with those concerning faiths and women, will become the shared patrimony of these societies that are now opening their doors to democracy, the principles of moderation and pluralism and respect for human rights. The goal is to achieve pluralism and national reconciliation before they can be seized by repressive fundamentalists. Italy believes, as newly-appointed Minister Terzi confirmed in his first two international appointments last week - the G8-BMENA meeting in Kuwait and the ItaTurk Dialogue Forum in Istanbul – that adequate economic means are needed to foster that democratic transition. Democracy cannot be consolidated without stable and socially equitable economic growth. Italy will spare no effort to encourage recovery along the southern shores of the Mediterranean. But “We must move”, Terzi underscored, “within a framework of respectful support for North African peoples' progress toward a free, prosperous and socially equitable society. If we only seek new ways to gain access to oil and gas reserves, or to put new authorities in place of the old ones without changing the framework of reference, we will be doing a disservice to these young people who have come out in protest, some of whom have paid with their lives for the defence of their high and noble ideals: only a decisive investment in human resources and in their mobility will offer these countries an alternative to energy resources”.