The House of Representatives approved the cabinet of Prime Minister Sherif Ismail by a 433-vote majority on Wednesday.
The vote to approve the cabinet of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s appointed prime minister came despite MPs voicing their objections to the programme. Dissenting MPs indicated that the government programme does not address several issues, even at the level of basic constitutional requirements.
While the vote received a 433-vote majority, 38 voted against the programme and five abstained from voting. One-hundred and eighteen MPs were absent from the voting session.
Politicians and analysts have expressed little doubt that the parliament would revoke the cabinet, especially considering the prominent presence of members of the pro-state Coalition in Support of Egypt, which brought coalition member MP Ali Abdel Aal to the position of parliament speaker.
Contrary to parliament’s constitutionally invested autonomy whereby it can appoint and dismiss cabinet members, the parliament is hindered by the internal strife that marks it in practice. If parliament dismisses the cabinet, it must form its own government. However, for the simple reason that widespread disagreement plagues the House of Representatives, the parliament would likely fail to appoint the requisite cabinet members, which would lead to parliament’s dissolution, according to article 146 of the Egyptian Constitution.
Parliament’s inability stems from the fact that no political party has the majority required to overcome the cabinet’s factional differences. There have been increasing internal disputes between the different parliamentary coalitions, indicating a divided parliament.
This has led to the present impasse. MPs are not convinced of the current government and its strategy. Yet, they are willingly to grant it confidence. To attempt to address this paradox, MPs have offered a series of nonbinding amendments to the cabinet’s programme and have claimed that they will monitor the government closely. However, there is no mechanism to enforce these amendments.
In statements to CBC channel Tuesday evening, MP Anisa Hassouna acknowledged that the cabinet’s programme contained various flaws. “I personally have many reservations about the programme. The programme is mysterious and does not disclose the means by which the government intends to fund its promised projects,” Hassouna said.
She added that the cabinet’s programme failed to respect budget allocation percentages to the sectors of health, education, and scientific research, which are specified in the 2014 Egyptian Constitution.
However, Hassouna said parliament faced a dilemma and that it is pushing members to approve the government. “Yet, they must understand that it is not a green light and I advise that they follow parliamentary recommendations and accountability,” she concluded.
The state must allocate a minimum percentage of government expenditures to education, higher education, health, and scientific research in the state budget for fiscal year 2016/2017, according to Article 238 of the Egyptian Constitution.
The state must allocate the following percent of its Gross National product to these respective fields: at least 3% to health according to article 18; at least 4% to education according to article 19; and at least 1% to scientific research, as per article 23.
Likewise, Al-Wafd Party MP Ahmed El-Seginy announced the party’s “conditional approval” of the cabinet’s programme. Members of Al-Wafd examined the programme and concluded that it lacked accuracy regarding the mechanisms of implementation to achieve its stated goals.
The party also highlighted the programme’s negligence of state budget allocations to education, health, and scientific research.