Europe in the World

EUSpring | Did Egypt's Parliamentary Election just trump citizens’ rights?

19 November 2015
Ragab Saad (Senior Researcher at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS))

Since the Muslim Brotherhood rule was toppled in July 2013, the regime of President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi has strived to consolidate his one-man rule; he painted the political opposition and civil society as traitors and foreign agents and exploited the fight against terrorism to suppress freedom of expression, justify a crackdown on the press, eclipse justice in courtrooms, throw thousands in prison, and tighten his grip on police forces. The regime has postponed parliamentary elections for some time, while it marginalised and weakened the non-Islamist political parties that helped Sisi take power. He did so by promoting electoral lists with candidates who are loyal to the president, to ensure control over the new assembly and by obstructing any political alliance that could form an opposition. At the same time, the security apparatus has been given free rein to control the public sphere and engineer the electoral process. This may ultimately lead to a parliament that includes no advocates for rights and liberties, which is particularly significant since the incoming assembly will review the huge amount of legislation that President Sisi has issued in the absence of a parliament. In addition, shortly before elections, President Sisi raised questions about the constitution, calling for it to be amended to reduce the powers of the parliament and increase those of the president. It is thus clear that Sisi seeks not only to consolidate his regime, without political opposition, but to free his rule of any effective oversight from society or parliament.

This paper is published in the framework of the EUSpring project on Democracy and Citizenship in North Africa after the Arab Awakening: Challenges for EU and US Foreign Policy ( The project is carried out by a consortium of organisations, including the European Policy Centre, University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, the Centre for Mediterranean and International Studies in Tunisia and the Centre de Recherche sur l'Afrique et la Méditerranée in Morocco and coordinated by Università degli Studi L’Orientale in Naples. The project is supported by the Compagnia di San Paolo.

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