By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: The majority of Egyptians voted “yes” to the constitutional amendments, paving the way for parliamentary and presidential elections, the first of which are to be held in six months.
Analyst Nabil Abdel Fattah, a researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies speculates that the Muslim Brotherhood and the remnants of the National Democratic Party will dominate parliamentary elections as a result of this “yes” vote.
Abdel Fattah told Daily News Egypt that he believed the NDP made a deal with the Brotherhood in order to exploit the group’s numbers, financial resources and public influence to hasten the parliamentary elections in order to dominate them.
“The NDP is a party based on personal interests and they were forced to cooperate with the Brotherhood to preserve these interests,” Abdel Fattah said.
Abdel Fattah added that the NDP and the army want to preserve Israel’s and the United States’ interests in the region and ensure stability.
“The United States and Israel want only limited reforms in the country while maintaining the country’s foreign policy to preserve their interests.”
Hossam Tammam, a researcher of Islamist movements agreed with Abdel Fattah saying, “The Brotherhood succeeded in mobilizing large numbers of people to vote yes to serve the Brotherhood’s best interest in the name of religion and stability.”
“There are many indications that there are in fact agreements between the Brotherhood and those who want to restore the former regime and work against the revolution,” Tammam told DNE.
The referendum isolated the Brotherhood from the rest of the opposition powers and portrayed the Brotherhood as an ally to the former regime which is against democracy, he added.
“This reduced their popularity in the political arena and is likely to negatively affect them in the parliamentary elections.”
Emad Gad, researcher at the Al Ahram Center for Political, agreed, saying, “I don’t believe in this big fear that the Brotherhood will dominate the polls if the parliamentary elections are held in June.”
“Of course it would be better to have parliamentary elections in September,” Gad said. “However, even if they’re held sooner, the political parties are capable of organizing themselves and preventing [the Brotherhood’s dominance] from materializing.”
The army had announced that parliamentary elections are to be held in June and are to be followed by presidential elections six weeks later, in case the people approve of the constitutional amendments. Leading Muslim Brotherhood member Essam Al-Erian said last week that the army agreed to hold the parliamentary elections in September.
Gad said delaying the elections would give political parties a chance to organize and prepare themselves better.
The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces suspended the constitution on Feb. 13 after a popular revolution ousted president Hosni Mubarak two days earlier following almost 30 years in power.
An appointed panel of legal experts drafted the proposed amendments in 10 days, as the military council strove to restore civilian rule as quickly as possible and keep the army above the political fray.
The amendments ease restrictions on independent presidential candidates, stipulating that candidates are eligible to run if they collect 30,000 signatures from at least 15 governorates in Egypt, with a minimum of 1,000 supporters in each, if they are endorsed by 30 members of parliament, or if their party has at least one seat in parliament.
A president can only rule for a maximum of two four-year terms, according to the amendments.
The amendment to Article 75 set conditions for presidential candidates that include a minimum age of 40, stipulating that the nominees and their parents and spouses be Egyptian.
The amendments also put the responsibility of drafting a new constitution on the shoulders of the new president and elected parliament.
The elected parliament is to appoint a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution within six months of its appointment. The new constitution would be approved by a referendum within 15 days of its completion without any interference from the upcoming president.
However, the proposed amendments triggered wide debate among constitutional experts on whether the wording of article 189 make it obligatory for the PA and the president to initiate a complete overhaul of the constitution.