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Egypt Elections
Explainer: Egypt's presidential poll
We explain how the election works and what issues will influence voters across the country.
Last Modified: 16 May 2012 14:36
This is Egypt's third post-revolutionary vote, after a constitutional referendum and parliamentary elections [EPA]

What are the requirements to run?

Candidates must be Egyptian, born to Egyptian parents, and at least 40 years old. They also must "enjoy civil and political right"s, which disqualifies felons, who lose their political rights after being convicted. The constitutional amendments approved last year also prohibit candidates whose parents are dual citizens, and those married to non-Egyptians.

To get their names on the ballot, candidates had to fulfill one of two requirements: secure endorsements from 30 members of parliament; or obtain signatures from 30,000 eligible voters living in 15 governorates, with at least 1,000 signatures from each governorate.

How many candidates are running for the presidency?

A total of 13 candidates will be on the ballot.

There were originally 23 candidates registered to run, but 10 of them were disqualified for various reasons. Hazem Abu Ismail, the Salafi candidate, was removed from the ballot because his mother held an US passport.

Omar Suleiman, the longtime Egyptian intelligence chief, was disqualified for failing to secure the required number of signatures in support of his candidacy. And Khairat al-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood’s preferred candidate, was ruled ineligible because of a past criminal conviction. He was jailed by a military court in 2007.

Among the remaining candidates, there are two frontrunners. One is Amr Moussa, the former Arab League chief and foreign minister, who has retained widespread popularity despite his ties to Hosni Mubarak’s regime. The other is Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, the former Brotherhood member who broke with the organisation last year.

Other prominent names include Ahmed Shafiq, a former aviation minister and air force officer; Hamdeen Sabahi, the Nasserist candidate and a former member of parliament; Mohamed Selim al-Awa, an Islamic scholar; and Mohamed Morsi, the Brotherhood’s "backup" candidate.

When will the election take place?

Egyptians across the country will vote on May 23 and 24. A candidate must receive 50 per cent of the vote to win. If a runoff election is necessary - almost a certainty - it will be held on June 16 and 17, with final results expected by June 21.

What are the key issues in this election?

In their public statements and policy positions, candidates have generally focused on two issues.

One is the Egyptian economy, which was already stagnant before the revolution and has only gotten worse since. Nearly half of Egyptians live at or below the poverty line, defined as $2 per day. Youth unemployment is 25 per cent. The country’s foreign currency reserves have fallen from $36bn in 2010 to just over $11bn, raising fears of a looming currency devaluation.

The new president will face pressure to fix this economic crisis. Candidates have also promised to improve "social justice", create new jobs and improve the plight of workers, though their rhetoric has been light on specifics.

The other issue is the widespread perception that Egypt has fallen into chaos since the revolution. Protests continue on a weekly basis. Some are violent, and drag on for days, like the clashes near the defence ministry earlier this month and the Mohamed Mahmoud Street battle in downtown Cairo in November.

On a more local level, street crime - practically unheard of during the Mubarak era - has become a real problem. The government does not keep reliable statistics, but there are growing reports of murders, rapes and robberies. Taxi drivers in Cairo refuse to drive to certain neighbourhoods at night for fear of carjackings.

Some voters will have their own priorities, of course, ranging from foreign policy to the role of religion in politics.

What powers will the president have?

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Egypt’s ruling military junta, approved a constitutional declaration last year which outlines several powers for the president. He will be responsible for convening the parliament; appointing the prime minister and the cabinet; and fulfilling the traditional role of a head of state - representing Egypt abroad and welcoming dignitaries.

The constitutional declaration is only an interim document, however. A permanent constitution was supposed to be finished by now, but the constituent assembly appointed to draft it was suspended last month by a court ruling.

So the new president will likely take office without a clear mandate. Some prominent political figures, particularly from the Muslim Brotherhood, have argued that the new constitution should create a "semi-presidential" system - limiting the president’s powers compared to a relatively more powerful parliament and prime minister.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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