The following are case by case summaries, in chronological order, of Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) rulings relating to election laws. Cases decided under each constitution or constitutional declaration are preceded by a list of the relevant provisions of that constitution or declaration.
Relevant Provisions of 1971 Constitution
Social solidarity is the basis of society.
The State shall guarantee equality of opportunity to all citizens.
Article 14 (first sentence)
All citizens have the right to public offices, which are assigned to those in trust in the service of the people.
All citizens are equal before the law.
They have equal rights and duties without discrimination between them due to race, ethnic origin, language, religion or creed.
Freedom of opinion is guaranteed.
Every individual has the right to express his opinion and to disseminate it verbally or in writing or by photography or by other means within the limits of the law. Self-criticism and constructive criticism is a guarantee for the safety of the nation.
Citizens shall have the right to vote and express their opinions in referendums in accordance with the provisions of the law. Their participation in public life is a national duty. The law shall regulate the right to stand for election to the People’s Assembly, the Shura Council and the local councils in accordance with the electoral system it specifies….
Penalties shall be personal.
There shall be no crime or penalty except by virtue of the law.
No penalty shall be inflicted except by judicial sentence.
Penalties shall be inflicted only for acts committed subsequent to the promulgation of the law prescribing them.
Legal provisions apply only from the date of their entry into force, and shall have no retroactive effect. However, provisions to the contrary may be adopted in other than criminal matters, with the approval of the majority of the members of the People’s Assembly.
Cases Decided Under the 1971 Constitution
SCC Case 131, Judicial Year 6, May 16, 1987 (Official Gazette No. 22, May 31, 1987)
The 1984 People’s Assembly elections were held pursuant to an election law establishing a pure party list proportional representation system requiring a threshold of eight percent of the vote to gain party seats. (A Wafd and Muslim Brotherhood alliance garnered 12.7 percent of the votes, which gave them 58 seats.)
The SCC ruled that the pure party list electoral law violated Articles 8, 40, and 62 of the 1971 constitution (which guaranteed equal rights and opportunities of citizens before the law, and right to participate in political life) by denying individual citizens the right to run for office as independents.
The court ordered the dissolution of the unconstitutionally elected People’s Assembly.
SCC Case 14, Judicial Year 8, April 15, 1989 (Official Gazette No. 17, April 27, 1989)
The SCC ruled unconstitutional a provision of election Law 43 of 1979 that prevented the participation of independent candidates in local elections.
SCC Case 23, Judicial Year 8, April 15, 1989 (Official Gazette No. 17, April 27, 1989)
The SCC ruled unconstitutional the law governing the election of Egypt's upper chamber, the Shura Council, for failing to provide equal opportunity for independent candidates.
SCC Case 37, Judicial Year 9, May 19, 1990 (Official Gazette No. 22 [Subsequent] June 3, 1990)
After the SCC ordered the dissolution of the People's Assembly elected in 1984 (see SCC Case 131, Judicial Year 6, above), a new election law divided the country into 24 multi-member districts for party list proportional representation, retaining the eight percent vote threshold for party representation, but two seats were reserved in each district for independent candidates, resulting in 400 seats for party list candidates and 48 for independents. In the 1987 People's Assembly election, the National Democratic Party (NDP) took 348 of the total 448 seats.
The Supreme Administrative Court annulled the election results for 78 seats due to NDP election fraud. The newly elected People’s Assembly recognized only seven of those rulings, and ignored the rest.
Again, the constitutionality of the People’s Assembly election law came before the SCC. The government argued that Article 62 (concerning political rights) expressly authorized a hybrid individual and party list electoral system. However, the Court ruled that the constitution must be interpreted as an organic whole, and when viewed as a whole the language of Article 62 was limited by and could not be implemented in a manner that violated Articles 8 and 40, which guarantee citizens equal opportunity before the law and equality and equal rights before the law, respectively. Because the law went too far by favoring party candidates over individual candidates, the law was found unconstitutional.
In response to a government argument that individuals were free to join a party of their choosing and enjoy the benefits of running as party candidates, the Court held that Article 47 of the constitution guaranteed freedom of opinion, and therefore the government could not compel citizens to participate in political parties (especially only government-approved parties).
The People’s Assembly was again ordered dissolved.
(Historical note: After the SCC-ordered dissolution of two People's Assemblies, a new election law was adopted that completely abandoned the party list system in favor of 222 two-seat districts, one being an open seat and the other reserved for workers and peasants as required by Article 87 of the constitution. The infamous 1995 parliamentary elections were then held, after which the administrative courts ruled that the election results were invalid for 226 of the 444 seats in the People’s Assembly, and that the election winners in those districts were disqualified. But, not a single seat was vacated. The NDP-dominated People’s Assembly invoked Article 93 of the 1971 constitution, which expressly stated that “the People’s Assembly shall be competent to decide the validity of the membership of its members…. Membership shall not be deemed invalid except by a decision taken by a majority of two-thirds of the Assembly members.” The government took the position that that constitutional language effectively insulated the People’s Assembly from judicial disqualification of its members, even though on its face the cited language relates only to qualifications to serve rather than legality of an election. In effect, the government simply ignored the court rulings. End note.)
SCC Case 2, Judicial Year 16, February 3, 1996
At the local level, rather than a pure party list proportional representation system, a mixed electoral system was introduced in which a single seat on each local council was reserved for the winner of competition between independent candidates.
When challenged, however, the SCC ruled that system was "completely biased in favor of candidates listed on the political party slates," in violation of Articles 7, 8, 40, and 62 of the constitution.
Relevant Provisions of 2011 Constitutional Declaration
All citizens are equal before the law.
They have equal public rights and duties without discrimination on grounds of race, ethnic origin, language, religion or creed.
Case Decided Under 2011 Constitutional Declaration
SCC Case 20, Judicial Year 34, June 14, 2012 (Official Gazette No. 24 [Subsequent A], June 14, 2012)
(Historical note: In light of the SCC rulings summarized above, when hybrid party list/individual candidacy parliamentary election laws were decreed by the SCAF in 2011, many knowledgeable observers, including the SCAF itself, expressed serious doubts about their constitutionality. The SCAF said that they were compelled to adopt that formula by the political parties, presumably because the parties believed that the former NDP would make its electoral appearance through individual candidacies. End note.)
When the constitutionality of the People’s Assembly election law came before the SCC in 2012 following the 2011-12 election, the Court cited its prior precedent in holding the law to be unconstitutional. The Court grounded its ruling on the law as applied in allowing party-backed candidates to run as independents, thereby tilting the scales heavily in favor of the better-financed and politically organized party-backed candidates running against real independent candidates on the individual lists.
Relevant Provisions of 2014 Constitution
Article 6 Citizenship
Citizenship is a right to anyone born to an Egyptian father or an Egyptian mother. Being legally recognized and obtaining official papers proving his personal data is a right guaranteed and organized by law.
Requirements for acquiring citizenship are specified by law.
Article 53 Equality in public rights and duties
Citizens are equal before the law, possess equal rights and public duties, and may not be discriminated against on the basis of religion, belief, sex, origin, race, color, language, disability, social class, political or geographical affiliation, or for any other reason….
Article 87 Citizen participation in public life
The participation of citizens in public life is a national duty. Every citizen has the right to vote, run in elections, and express their opinion in referendums. The law shall regulate the exercise of these rights. Performance of these duties may be exempted in cases specified by the law….
Article 88 Egyptians living abroad
The state shall protect the interests of Egyptians living abroad, protect them, guarantee their rights and freedoms, enable them to perform their public duties towards the state and society, and engage them in the nation's development.
The law shall regulate their participation in elections and referendums in a way consistent with their particular circumstances, without being restricted by the provisions on voting, counting of ballots and announcing of results set forth in this Constitution. This shall be done with the granting of guarantees that ensure the fairness and neutrality of the election and referendum process.
Article 92 Limitations clause
Rights and freedoms of individual citizens may not be suspended or reduced.
No law that regulates the exercise of rights and freedoms may restrict them in such a way as infringes upon their essence and foundation.
Article 95 Punishment
Penalties are personal. Crimes and penalties may only be based on the law, and penalties may only be inflicted by a judicial ruling. Penalties may only be inflicted for acts committed subsequent to the date on which the law enters into effect.
Article 102 Candidacy, Elections, and Composition [of the House of Representatives]
A candidate for the membership of the House must be an Egyptian citizen, enjoying civil and political rights, a holder of at least a certificate of basic education, and no younger than 25 years old on the day that candidacy registration is opened.
Other requirements of nomination, the electoral system, and the division of electoral districts are defined by law, taking into account fair representation of population and governorates and equal representation of voters. The majoritarian system, proportional list, or a mixed system of any ratio may be used.
The President of the Republic may appoint a number of members that does not exceed 5%. The method of their nomination is to be specified by law.
Article 141 Conditions for Candidacy (President of the Republic)
A presidential candidate must be an Egyptian born to Egyptian parents, and neither he, his parents or his spouse may have held other citizenship. He must have civil and political rights, must have performed the military service or have been exempted therefrom by law, and cannot be younger than 40 years on the day that candidacy registration is opened. Other requirements for candidacy are set out by law.
Article 164 Conditions for Candidacy (Prime Minister or other government official)
A person appointed to the position of Prime Minister or any other position in the government must be an Egyptian citizen of Egyptian parents, and he and his spouse may not have held the citizenship of any other country, must enjoy civil and political rights, must have performed the military service or have been exempted therefrom, and must be at least 35 years old at the time of appointment.
Anyone appointed as a member of the government is required to be an Egyptian, enjoying his civil and political rights, have performed the military service or have been exempted therefrom, and to be at least 30 years old at the time of appointment.
It is prohibited to hold a position in the government in addition to membership in the House of Representatives. If a member of the House is appointed to the government, his place in the House becomes vacant as of the date of this appointment.
Cases Decided Under 2014 Constitution