Problems on hold
As the second round of parliamentary elections approaches, paving the road for the first House of Representatives in Egypt since the passing of the new Constitution in 2014, the talk of the town seems to centre on the person of the future Speaker of Parliament. Political gossip and speculation have reached a crescendo level that parallels the electoral contest. Nonetheless, it is no more than a fictitious contest that exposes the naivety and poor awareness of those who engage in it. The Constitution stipulates that the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives is not open to any public or political figure, no matter how lofty their weight, history or experience, as long as this figure is not among the elected or appointed members of parliament.
Article 117 of Chapter V (The System of Government) of the Constitution reads:
“At the first meeting of its annual regular sessions, the House of Representatives elects, from among its members, a speaker and two deputies for the full legislative term. If the office of any of the aforementioned persons becomes vacant, a substitute is elected by the House. The House’s internal regulations shall provide for the rules and procedures of election. If any of the aforementioned persons fails to fulfill the duties of his office, one-third of the House members may request to relieve him of his office. The relevant decision is issued by a majority of two-thirds of the members. In all cases, neither the speaker nor any of the two deputies may be elected for more than two consecutive legislative terms.”
Accordingly, political gossip or chat groups simply cannot nominate any candidate for the position of Speaker of the upcoming House of Representatives. We must first get through electing all the members of parliament, then wait for the President’s decision to appoint not more than 5 per cent of the members—according to Article 102 of the Constitution. During the procedural parliamentary session that follows, which should be chaired by the oldest MP, the Speaker and his deputies will be elected. This is the path that was drawn by the Constitution. One or several of the figures that the President appoints to the House of Representatives may incidentally be among the names currently circulated by the gossip groups for Speaker. But this is as lucky as the gossip groups can get; these figures are expected to be competent heavyweight candidates who did not run in the elections but, according to the Constitution and owing to their appointment to the House of Representatives, stand a chance to be elected Speaker or Deputy Speaker. When one of these figures makes it to the position of Speaker or Deputy Speaker, however, we can be sure the political gossip groups will brag that they had known about it all along. I can almost hear them say it right now.
15 November 2015