March 20, 2011
Egyptians have strongly backed constitutional changes that will allow the country to move quickly on to elections. Official results show that 77% of voters in Saturday’s referendum backed the changes. Under former President Hosni Mubarak, elections were stage-managed affairs with pre-determined results and turnout was very low. A parliamentary vote may now take place as early as September. Mohammed Ahmed Attiyah, the head of the supreme judicial committee who supervised the vote, said 18.5 million people who voted supported the changes. Turnout was 41.2 % of the 45 million eligible voters.
• Reducing presidential terms from six years to four years and limiting the president to two terms
• Obliging the president to choose a deputy within 30 days of election
• Installing new criteria for presidential candidates, including a rule that they must be over 40 years old and not married to a non-Egyptian
The country’s two main political groups, Mr Mubarak’s National Democratic Party and the Muslim Brotherhood, backed the proposals. But pro-democracy activists said the changes did not go far enough and wanted the constitution to be entirely rewritten before elections could be held. Activists have argued that the established parties stand to gain the most from holding an election quickly. For many people Saturday was the first time they had ever voted.