CAIRO | The Egyptians are called to elect the upper house of parliament on Tuesday and Wednesday, a ballot without stakes and little able to revive political life under the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The candidates for the 200 of the 300 seats to be filled in the Senate are mainly supporters of the Head of State, who has largely muzzled the opposition within Parliament, but also outside.
The remaining 100 senators are nominated by Mr Sisi, a former general and ex-chief of military intelligence who came to power after the impeachment of Islamist Mohamed Morsi, facing monster popular protests a year after becoming the first democratically elected president .
“I do not think that this will add anything to a political landscape which remains immobile in Egypt”, estimates Moustapha Kamel al-Sayyed, professor of political science at the University of Cairo. According to him, this poll “could be useful as a means of rewarding those who support Sissi”.
Billboards promoting candidates little known to the general public have appeared in the capital and other cities across the country while videos posted on the internet explain the role of the Senate and call for votes.
The upper house of parliament, abolished after Morsi’s impeachment when it was called the Advisory Council, was restored by a controversial constitutional overhaul in April 2019, widely adopted by referendum.
During the presidency of Hosni Mubarak, who resigned under the pressure of a popular uprising during the Arab Spring in 2011, the upper house was essentially reserved for the elite and members of his National Democratic Party (PND) today. hui dissolved.
This poll is being held in the midst of the new coronavirus pandemic, with a number of new contaminations declining in recent weeks in Egypt (178 new cases on Monday, for a total of 95,492 cases, including 5,009 deaths).
The results are expected on August 19.
The Senate, which has a five-year term and where 10% of the seats must be allocated to women, exercises little formal power. Its mission is “to examine and propose what it considers capable of strengthening the pillars of democracy, supporting social peace and the fundamentals of society”.
“The positions of the upper house should be taken into consideration and have rarely been ignored in the history of the Legislative Assembly,” MP Mohamed Abou Hamed told AFP. “However, its positions are not legally binding,” he adds.
The lower house has more powers, but critics have long denounced the very reduced role of Parliament, which has only a small opposition bloc.
Under the Sisi presidency, elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2018, Egypt launched a vast campaign against the Islamist movement, targeting in particular the Muslim Brotherhood, but also against left-wing activists, journalists and bloggers.
Human rights groups believe that freedoms gained in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising have been severely curtailed, especially with regard to protests and internet publications.