Egypt’s potential district boundaries, Ctd. Workers and farmers

In my last post I went over the basics of Egypt’s new district boundaries.  Now I would like to delve into the some of their potential implications.

The most noticeable aspect of the districts are their size: only four or six seats for each one.  The reason for the only even numbers confused me at first, until I realized this must be to accommodate the constitutional requirement that half of all MPs be workers or farmers.   The nominal tier of seats is already a convoluted mess because of this strange requirement, so I guess it makes sense for the ordinal tier to suffer from it too.   Why is this the case?  Well in order to guarantee that half the representatives are workers and farmers, every district will need to send half of its delegation from that class. This means that every party list will have to employ what is commonly known as a zipper provision.  That is, every other list member must be a worker or farmer.  This also explains why Egypt is proposing a closed-list system.  Open-lists would allow voters to cast preference votes, which could place non workers or farmers at the top of the lists.  Because of this rule, the small size of districts could result in a PR tier where almost only worker or farmers are elected.  In the standard district with four seats, for example, we might expect that one party would capture two seats, and two other parties would split the remaining half.  This would mean that three of the four delegates would be from the reserved class, with only the second list member of the largest party not belonging to that group.  With the fractionalized nature of Egypt’s current party system, few parties getting more than one seat per district is not unlikely.

This requirement will also place party leaders in a bit of a bind.  Normally a party leader would run at the top of their respective list. Most party leaders, I assume, would not like to risk being second place on a list in  a four seat district.  This will probably cause party leaders to 1) run in extremely favorable districts (if they exist), or 2) run in the nominal tier of seats.  The thing is, I’m not sure how many party leaders could win in the nominal tier of seats.

The other major implication I can think of is the impact this will have on women’s representation.   The NDP did institute a gender quota in the previous election, which was a special tier of 64 SMD seats.  It wasn’t too popular, and the current gender quota is for every party to include at least one women on every party list.  Originally, the placement had to be on the top half of the list, but this was changed to the weak requirement that they could be placed anywhere.  The small districts will make list placement even more important for candidates, which means that there is a less likely chance women will get winnable slot.

Posted on September 20, 2011, in Electoral Systems, Middle East and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Why do you call the PR tier “ordinal” if it’s not STV?

    How will the system guarantee seats for ‘workers or farmers’ in the PR tier? Eg one list winning 3 seats and one winning 1 seat, and only one winner is a ‘worker or farmer’, one on the bigger list: which list will have to cede and will send the second ‘worker or farmer’, ignoring a higher placed ‘general’ candidate?

  2. “Ordinal tier”? You mean list tier.

    I would understand “ordinal” to refer to a ballot type, e.g. ranked-choice, as opposed to “categoric” (as in Rae, 1967).

    In fact, Egypt’s nominal tier ballot may be ordinal in a sense, if voters can vote validly by using only one of their allowed two votes. Or even by giving their votes to candidates from different parties. This would be weakly ordinal in the sense of differentiating among nominees of a party.

    The list tier, however, is clearly categoric (one vote, at list level only).

    Also, it is possible to implement a quota (e.g. for women, or workers) under open lists or SNTV. See Iraq’s most recent elections, or Afghanistan. It might be pointless with 4-6 seats available, but it’s feasible.

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