The Shura Council passed the new House of Representatives elections bill in its Thursday morning session. The council had already approved the bill Wednesday pending final vote in addition to passing the political participation bill.
Together both bills make up the legislation governing the upcoming elections to the House of Representatives, parliament’s lower house.
Shura Council Speaker Ahmed Fahmy said he would refer the bills to the Supreme Constitutional Court on Sunday. Article 177 of the constitution stipulates that election related bills must be sent to the court for approval before being signed into law by the president.
If the Supreme Constitutional Court deems the bills constitutional, President Mohamed Morsi will sign them into law and call for elections. The court has up to 45 days to rule on the constitutionality of the bills, meaning Morsi can call for elections by late May this year.
The House of Representatives will take over most legislative powers from the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, as well determine whom Morsi names as new prime minister. The president is expected to award the premiership to the majority party.
Shura Council members voted to maintain the same districting from the 2011-2012 parliamentary elections with 47 districts for seats decided by closed party list proportional representation voting and 90 districts for seats decided by individual two-round voting. The total seats within the house will remain 546.
Morsi had already called for elections to start in April but the Administrative Judiciary Court ruled to suspend the elections after the Shura Council failed to run the election bills past the Supreme Constitutional Court a second time.
The upper house of parliament had referred the bills to the Supreme Constitutional Court only for the latter to deem it unconstitutional. The Shura Council then amended the bills in accordance to the court’s recommendations but did not refer them back to it, instead sending them to Morsi who signed the bills into law.
The administrative court ruled this to be a violation and referred the bills back to the Supreme Constitutional Court, suspending elections. The presidency appealed the Administrative Judiciary Court’s verdict to the Supreme Administrative Court.
Fearing a long drawn out court case might postpone elections for a long time, the Shura Council instead voted to draft two new bills then wait for the Supreme Administrative Court’s verdict or the Supreme Constitutional Court’s recommendations on the old bills.