16 Jun 2012

Confusion in Egypt as polls open

Despite the controversial dissolution of parliament, voting begins in presidential elections in Egypt. But what does the situation mean for the country’s transition process?

The decision by Egypt’s supreme constitutional court to dissolve the first democratically elected parliament for six decades ahead of the presidential elections, means the new president will come to power without the counterbalance of an elected legislature.

At the same time as dissolving parliament, the court allowed former Mubarak prime minister Ahmed Shafiq to run for the presidency, throwing out a law which denied political rights to the old regime. Some commentators have suggested the moves amount to a slow-motion coup.

The developments were condemned as illegal by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose presidential candidate, Muhammed Mursi, won the first round of elections in May. They mean that the new president is likely to have a significant influence on the formation and shape of a new parliament

Parliament is due to meet as usual on Thursday, and the Muslim Brotherhood has said it believes this will go ahead.

As the ramifications of the supreme constitutional court’s decisions combined with the results of presidential contest become clearer, so will whether Egypt will move from dictatorship to dictatorship via revolution.

Archive: Read Jonathan Rugman’s blog “The Road to Mubarak’s Downfall”

Egypt timeline

January 2011
Protesters gather in Tahrir Square, Cairo, for a “Day of Rage” demanding a change to the government of Hosni Mubarak to end his 30-year rule.

February 2011
After 18 days of protests, Mubarak hands over power to the army. The next day, the army suspends the constitution and dissolves parliament.

April 2011
A court dissolves Mubarak’s party, The National Democratic Party.

June 2011
The formerly outlawed Muslim Brotherhood forms a political party.

July 2011
Protests continue against the slow pace of change to democracy.

November 2011
The first elections since the ousting of Mubarak are held, with Islamist parties enjoying popular success.

December 2011
National unity government takes office, led by Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri.

January 2012
Egypt’s first democratically elected government in 60 years meets for the first time.

May 2012
Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi wins the first round of voting in the first free post-Mubarak presidential elections, marginally beating Mubarak’s former prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq.

Read more: Egyptian elections - Islamist or former military man?