About the Working Paper Series:
This series of working papers is a response to the imperative for targeted expertise in support of constitution building in the wake of the Arab Spring. As one of the primary international institutions supporting constitution building in the Middle East and North Africa region, International IDEA commissioned leading international experts to produce research papers on specific issues of constitutional design that will need to be addressed by states in the region seeking more democratic institutional frameworks. International IDEA, together with Constitutional Transitions, has brought these papers together in this Working Paper Series.
The Legislature under the Egyptian Constitution of 2012
By Asanga Welikala
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Egypt’s political architecture under Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian leadership and the 1971 Constitution was characterized by weak legislatures and a strong executive. The restoration of an effective, independent and efficient legislature capable of acting both as a check on executive government and as a vehicle for representative democracy, and the establishment of a more appropriate balance between the three branches of government, are thus key institutional elements of Egypt’s transition to constitutional democracy. This paper considers the constitutional arrangement for the form, powers and functions of Egypt’s legislature in the broader context of the framework of government established by the 2012 Constitution. The paper focuses on the provisions of the Constitution with regard to the legislature and its relationship with other organs of government; and its evaluation of these provisions is based on norms of democratic constitutionalism that are expressly included in the new Constitution or are implicit from its text. Overall, the paper concludes that the 2012 Constitution is markedly more in line with international best practice and trends in global constitutionalism than the 1971 Constitution; but that the 2012 Constitution suffers a number of shortcomings such as considerable areas of textual imprecision, disorganized arrangement, a failure to closely consider the relationships between different parts and provisions of the Constitution, and a willingness to leave a significant number of matters that ought to be dealt with in the Constitution to ordinary legislation.
An English translation of Egypt’s 2012 Constitution is available here.
Asanga Welikala, LL.B, LL.M, is a doctoral candidate and ESRC Teaching Fellow in Public Law in the School of Law, University of Edinburgh. He is also a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), Sri Lanka, who has worked on aspects of a number of comparative constitution-making processes in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. His most recent publication is Asanga Welikala (Ed.) (2012) The Sri Lankan Republic at 40: Reflections on Constitutional History, Theory and Practice (Colombo: Centre for Policy Alternatives), which is also available at: www.republicat40.org.