World Bulletin / News Desk
Some 24 Egyptian organizations, including women's rights groups and political parties, have voiced concerns over proposals to adopt the first-past-the-post system for upcoming parliamentary and local council polls, saying the system – to be applied in single-member constituencies – will undermine female candidates' chances.
"Women's rights groups and political parties have followed with deep concern the recommendations for adopting the plurality voting system for the next elections," the organizations wrote in a joint petition to a 50-member committee tasked with amending the constitution.
"The first-past-the-post system is the worst when it comes to the need to make women a part of this country's legislative process," read the petition, a copy of which was obtained by Anadolu Agency.
A committee of ten constitutional law experts has proposed several amendments to Egypt's 2012 constitution, which was suspended following the army's July 3 ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi.
The 24 organizations, however, insist that the simple majority voting system opens the door to possible electoral manipulation.
"It also opens the way for family connections to affect the election process in ways that undermine democratic participation and real electoral competitiveness," they asserted.
Before Egypt's January 2011 revolution, which ended the three-decade rule of former president Hosni Mubarak, the government had allocated 64 seats in Egypt's 444-seat parliament for women.
In Egypt's' first post-revolution parliamentary polls in late 2011, women won only eight of the assembly's 498 seats.
The lower house of parliament was later dissolved in June 2012 based on a ruling by Egypt's High Constitutional Court.
Petition signatories included the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and the Cairo Center for Development and Human Rights, along with the Dustour, Egyptian Social Democratic and Free Egyptians parties.
They called on the constitution-amending committee to reconsider recommendations to adopt the first-past-the-post electoral system.
Instead, they proposed a proportional representation system, which they believe will give women a greater chance to find their way into parliament and the nation's local councils.
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The polling stations opened 6.00 a.m. local time (0300 GMT) at some 45,000 polling stations across the country.