Second phase of Egyptian elections

Low voter turnout for Egypt’s parliamentary elections.

The second round of Egypt’s two-part parliamentary elections ended on 23 November, following two days of low voter turnout.

The elections, which began in October, have been hampered by voter apathy as well as security concerns following the recent terrorist bombing of a Russian plane, that killed all 224 passengers, in the northern Sinai province.

The second phase of elections was held in 13 provinces, including Cairo, while the first round covered 14 governates including the cities of Alexandria and Giza. Voter turnout in the October elections was 26.5 per cent and so far the second round suggests another low turnout.

The long-awaited parliamentary polls are the final stage in a “roadmap to democracy” announced by then army chief and now president, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, immediately after the ousting of Islamist president Mohammad Morsi in July 2013. Egypt's previous parliament was dissolved over three years ago.

Sisi and his supporters polled well in the first phase of elections and are expected to repeat their performance the second time around. The president faces little serious opposition as most of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders are now in prison, and the elections are expected to strengthen his power.

Also stifling opposition is a new electoral law that reserves 75 per cent of seats for individual candidates without links to political groups.

The government says this prevents a single party, such as the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, from dominating parliament. However critics say the system favours wealthy business and media figures from the era of Hosni Mubarak whose almost 30-year regime ended in a popular uprising in 2011.

The parliament comprises 596 seats, 448 of which are elected as individuals, and 120 through party lists with quotas for women and the young. The president may appoint up to 28 of his own members, or five per cent of the total.

Final election results are scheduled to be released in the first week of December, with the parliament's inaugural session expected towards the end of this year.

For voting schedules see Egypt's state information website.