I'm not sure whether to resurrect a nine-month-old thread or start a new one, so feel free to move this if you think it's appropriate.
Egypt is holding their parliamentary elections right now. In the first round of voting for the lower house, Islamic parties made a very strong showing. It was pretty expected that the Muslim brotherhood would do well, and indeed, they took about 37% of the vote. The more surprising result is that the Salafi's, a stricter, more conservative group, has garnered about a quarter of the vote. The two main liberal parties picked up about 20% between them. The runoffs will be held Monday and Tuesday.
The new election process is extremely convoluted, with three rounds of elections for the lower house stretching from late November to mid-January. Elections in the upper house will begin in late January and run through mid-March. For the lower house, about two-thirds of the seats (332) are filled via proportional representation (4-10 seats per district, 46 districts), while about a third (166) are elected directly in a first-past-the-post system (two per district, 83 districts). A handful (10) are to be appointed by the military council. I'm not sure exactly what the different rounds are for. Reading some of the articles, it looks like it might be that a third of the provinces vote in each round, I guess to make elections more manageable (can someone confirm this? It's not really clear who's voting when).
There are 270 seats in the upper house, with 180 being elected in early 2012 in a manner similar to the lower house. The remaining 90 are to be appointed by the new President after he's elected in mid 2012.
Can you imagine if we voted like this in the U.S.? People would have no clue what was going on. It actually looks like a much better system, at least how the candidates are elected. You preserve the regional representation, but eliminate some of the problems with a FPTP voting system. Even the candidates who are elected via FPTP have to have runoffs if they don't get 50% of the vote, which is a lot better than what we're doing in the States in a lot of our elections. Each candidate in the lower house represents (on average) about 160,000 Egyptians, compared to about 700,000 people per congressman in the U.S. house of representatives. In the upper house there are about 450,000 people per elected representative (discounting the 90 appointed by the president), compared to over 3 million per senator in the U.S. (the people-per-senator also varies widely depending on the state in the U.S., while it sounds like in Egypt the distribution will be significantly more even).
The parties all have to adopt a visual symbol, so that illiterate voters know which party they're voting for. That's an awesome idea. There's also some weird rules about a certain proportion of candidates having to come from working and farming backgrounds and a certain proportion from professional backgrounds. I'm not sure exactly how all that works out.
Turnout for the first round of elections was something like 60%, which is considered quite high.
No matter what the results are, it still remains unclear how much power the parliament is really going to have. The military council hasn't seemed too keen on relinquishing all of their power. There's still the tricky business of drawing up a new Constitution, which I believe is to occur before the Presidential elections.
It's an exciting time for the Egyptians, but it's also a bit of an uncertain turning point - there's a lot of questions about the future.. If you're religious, I ask that you pray for a successful implementation of Democracy in Egypt.http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/12/201112320622436522.htmlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_parliamentary_election,_2011%E2%80%932012