During the session, the General Coordinator of the National Dialogue, Diaa Rashwan, said that the Egyptian Presidency will be informed of the political parties' call for expediting measures to hold municipal elections.
“The agreement of the political parties, which hold different views and ideologies, on the necessity of holding the municipal elections will be reported to the political leadership,” Rashwan stressed.
New municipal elections law
The participants in the session stressed the urgency of passing the amended local council law – which is instrumental in holding local council elections. Egypt has had no local councils for more than a decade.
Although the Egyptian parliament began discussing the new municipal elections law in 2019, it was never passed, which led to the absence of civic supervisory authority and the failure of the efforts to achieve decentralization.
The dialogue session focused on some axes regarding local councils, including the tools that these councils use in questioning heads of the local units.
The session discussed, too, the amendments to the current local councils' law and the conditions for dissolving such councils by the executive authority.
Local councils, assigned with implementing the state’s development plans and monitoring executive authorities, were dissolved in 2011 in the wake of the 25th of January revolution as per a ruling by an administrative court.
The last local council elections were held in Egypt in 2008.
Rashwan called for the Senate and House of Representatives to address the new local councils law in light of its “urgent necessity”.
Holding municipal elections
“There is consensus by everyone to hold municipal elections and to have a law that meets the needs of all,” said Talaat Abdel-Kawy, a member of the National Dialogue’s board of trustees, during the dialogue session.
The rapporteur of the National Dialogue’s municipalities' subcommittee, Sameer Abdel-Wahab, stressed, ahead of the session, that the National Dialogue is essential for municipal administration.
“If the National Dialogue is important, it is even more so for municipal administration, as it provides an opportunity for a serious and objective discussion of issues about municipal administration,” Abdel-Wahab stated.
The session discussed, too, the appropriate electoral system in light of Article 180 of the Constitution, and the procedures regulating the nomination of candidates for the municipal council.
Article 180 of the 2014 Constitution stipulates that each local unit shall elect a local council by direct secret ballot for four years. The article also maintains that the candidates for the local councils must be at least 21.
The article mandates that 25 percent of the seats of the local councils should go to youth under 35 and that another 25 percent of seats go to women. It also prescribes that workers and farmers must occupy at least 50 percent of seats and that these seats should include representatives of Christians and persons with disabilities.
Rady Shamekh, a former local council member, said that Article 180 does not apply to the individual or proportional list election systems for local councils and that it does not consider the geographical, social and ethnic nature of localities.
He suggested that the groups represented in the councils should reflect the nature of each governorate.
Shamekh also proposed adding an article to the constitution that defines the exact meaning of the terms "workers" and "peasants" as some candidates used to run in elections while incorrectly identifying themselves as peasants.
Furthermore, the session discussed the electoral system for the local council elections. Senate MP, Ahmed Fawzy, suggested using both the closed list system and the individual system equally during the local council elections.
Egypt used to follow the individual election system in forming local councils. The 2014 constitution left it up to the legislator to adopt the individual system, the list system, or a combination of both.
The main goal for discussing municipalities' issues is to confront corruption, eliminate bureaucracy, and achieve decentralization to see positive results on the ground, said MP Alaa Essam, an assistant rapporteur for the dialogue’s municipals' subcommittee.
“The national dialogue is one of the pillars of the new republic and an opportunity to discuss municipalities, local councils, and the ways to develop and reach proposals and recommendations that can be implemented and executed, " Essam added.