A referendum in Egypt has taken place on planned constitutional changes that will decide when Egypt will hold elections after Hosni Mubarak’s stepped down.

The referendum has split opinion amongst the Egyptians. Some have said the planned reforms are unsatisfactory, yet the majority of Egyptians are happy with the amendments.

The outcome has been received as good news to economists, who see this as a positive step towards democracy and a free economy.

The changes to the referendum:

  • A president will be limited to two four-year terms and will have to assign a vice president with 60 days of being in office.
  • Elections will have judicial supervision, any state of emergency must be approved and can vote against the president’s right to use military courts.
  • No longer the need of a voting card that so many Egyptians did not possess. Instead they can now vote with their National ID cards if they are over 18 years old.

There were over 54,000 polling stations allowing up to 45 million people to vote in the referendum. The referendum board stated the polling stations were all over Egypt and were observed by 17,000 judges.

This resulted in a very positive turnout. Many Egyptians had the opportunity to vote for the very first time, as the previous special voting card was abandoned and any person over 18 could cast a vote using just the National ID card.

The outcomes:

  • As the people voted for the amendments to go ahead, elections in parliament may take place as early as late September.
  • If the Egyptians had voted against the amendments, Egypt’s military council would have granted a constitutional decree until parliamentary and presidential ballot.
  • If this had happened, elections would have been pushed back to early next year and Egypt’s army would stay in control until the elections took place.

Who is against the amendments?

  • Presidential candidate Amr Moussa, who is currently the secretary-general at Arab League, disagrees with the changes and believes conducting a new constitution is the answer.
  • Another presidential candidate called Mohamed ElBaradei believes the amendments could take Egypt’s electoral reform in the “opposite direction”. He disagrees with the proposed amendments and was thought to be voting against them.
  • The liberal nationalist Wafd party are against the plans, arguing the ideas to limit powers of the president are insufficient.

Who is in favour of the amendments?

  • The former ruling party lead by Mubarak, The National Democratic Party, has voted in favour of them.
  • The largest party in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, agree with the plans. They want the country to start operating again and avoid the army ruling the country for a long time.
  • A group called the Salafists believe the changes are positive and a step closer to a better functioning country. These Muslims have been subjected to cruel domination by Mubarak in the past.

Previous reports from Reuters suggest that this positive outcome to the referendum will lead to a quicker path to democracy and accelerate the economic and investment reforms.

Source: Reuters