The Shura Council, Egypt's upper house of parliament [official website], on Thursday approved a revised election law that sets new rules for lower house elections to be held later this year. The law provides that the People's Assembly, Egypt's lower house of parliament, will consist of 546 seats, and it will also divide the country's electoral map into 129 electoral districts. Members of the current Assembly, particularly those of the leftist National Salvation Front, have objected [Reuters report] to the laws as a mechanism to suit Islamist politicians to the detriment of secular advocates. The Islamist-led upper house will now send the lower house election law and a revised political rights law to the the country's Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) [official website], which will rule on the legality of the bills to govern the vote. This year's parliamentary elections will replace the lower house, which was led by members of the Muslim Brotherhood [party website], that was dissolved by a court ruling last year.
Egypt has been plagued by continuing political turmoil since the beginning of its revolution [JURIST backgrounder]. Last month, the country's Supreme Administrative Court referred [JURIST report] the newly passed electoral law to the SCC for review, thereby delaying parliamentary elections originally set to begin on April 22. The court's decision was said to be based on technical grounds [Reuters report], namely that the Shura Council failed to return the amended electoral law to the SCC for final review before passing it [JURIST report]. The law was amended in five key areas, as demanded by the high court [JURIST report] in February. Also in March, the SCC dismissed complaints [JURIST report] against the assembly responsible for drafting the country's new constitution. Specifically, the complaints challenged the method for selecting the assembly's members, which was boycotted [JURIST report] by liberals and Christians as a misrepresentation of all Egyptians. In February, the SCC postponed ruling [JURIST report] on whether the assembly was legitimate.