Final results show Christians under-represented in new Egyptian Parliament

January 25, 2012 by  
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Protests Outside EgyptianEgypt, January 24, 2012: Final results of the Egyptian parliamentary elections confirm a resounding victory for Islamist groups, while the country’s Christians are woefully under-represented, filling just seven of the 498 seats.

As expected from the first two of three rounds of voting, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has emerged with the largest share of the vote, giving them 47 per cent of seats in the People’s Assembly.

The final results of the staggered elections were announced on Saturday (21 January) by the High Judicial Elections Committee. The hard line Salafist al-Nur party’s coalition came second, taking about 25 per cent of the seats. The liberal Wafd party came third, trailed by the Egyptian Bloc coalition. The latter includes the Free Egyptians, which is headed by Christian businessman Naguib Sawiris and is favoured by many of the country’s Christians.

Despite comprising around ten per cent of the population, Christians fill only 1.4 per cent of the seats in the new parliament. Christian candidates won just two seats in the elections; five Christian candidates were subsequently appointed to the parliament by the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, who, acting in the place of the president, has the right to appoint ten MPs. Ousted President Hosni Mubarak traditionally used this allocation to boost the representation of Christians and women.

Christians’ concerns

Egyptian Christians are concerned about their future under the new parliament. A Christian activist group released a statement, addressed to the Islamist majority, on Sunday, the day before the parliament’s first scheduled meeting. The group expressed discontent with the election results and asked the Islamists if they will treat the country’s Christians as equals and how they intend to deal with Christian women who will not be covering their hair or faces.

The new parliament will have significant influence in shaping the country’s future, as it will choose the 100-member body that will draw up the new constitution.

Under a temporary power-sharing agreement, the FJP’s secretary general, Mohamed Saad Katatny, was expected to be installed as the parliament’s speaker with al-Nur and Wafd representatives serving as deputy speakers.

It remains to be seen whether or not the FJP and al-Nur will join forces in parliament, but the two groups have thus far expressed different priorities. The former has said that it will focus on economic and social issues, while the latter wants to pursue a more overtly Islamist agenda, focusing on issues such as women’s dress, alcohol consumption and the contents of popular culture.

Elections for the upper house, the Shura Council, will start on 29 January, with presidential elections scheduled for completion by the end of June.

– barnabas team