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How Are Seat Winners Determined in the Egyptian Elections ?

[Image from unknown archive] [Image from unknown archive]

The new system in Egypt’s 2011 elections may seem overwhelming to those trying to figure out how the winners will be calculated. The introduction of the list system and calculations using the ‘highest remainder’ method has been a cause for confusion. Also, in the individual system, voters can now vote for any two candidates as opposed to one professional and one worker/farmer.

How individual winners are determined per district

Each district will have two seats to be awarded to two candidates. At least one of them must be a worker/farmer.


In the first round a candidate may win a seat by getting a number of votes greater than 50% of the total number of ballots (50% +1 vote).  Meaning if a total of 10,000 voters cast their ballots correctly, a candidate would have to get 5001 votes to win a seat.

Since every voter must choose two candidates, each ballot contains two votes. This means the total number of votes made available by 10,000 voters will be 20,000 votes. It is then possible for two candidates to each win 5001 votes in the first round. Two candidates winning 5001 votes or more can secure seats in parliament without a runoff, provided one of them is a worker/farmer.

Candidates unable to secure a seat by garnering the necessary votes go to the second round or runoffs.

Runoffs and the 50% worker/farmers rule

The following are the different cases for which there is a runoff, either no candidates won or one of them did.

· If no candidate managed to secure the total number of votes, then the runoffs will include the top four candidates provided that at least two of them are worker/farmer candidates, and that at least one of the runoff winners is a worker/farmer candidate.

· If the winner in the first round was a professional, the top two worker/farmer candidates compete in a second round.

· If the first winner was a worker/farmer, the next two candidates with the highest votes compete in a second round irrespective of their category

· If two candidates were elected in the first round and were both professional then only the one with the highest number of votes will be chosen and the top two   worker/farmer candidates will compete in a second round. 

How list winners are determined per district 

Each district will have several seats to be distributed to the lists participating in the district. A single district may have four, six, eight, ten or 12 seats.

How are lists ordered?

Lists are ordered so that no two consecutive professionals appear on the list. Any candidate can be placed on the top of the list.

Seat Cost

In each district there are a number of seats assigned to it for lists. Each seat has a cost in the number of votes. This cost is determined as the total number of votes divided by the number of seats. For example if there are 100,000 votes for 4 seats, the cost of 1 seat would be 25,000 votes. If there are 8 seats, the cost of one seat would be12,500 votes.

Let’s take the example of one seat costing 25,000 votes. If one list receives over 25,000 votes it will be granted one seat. If a list receives over 50,000 votes, it receives 2 seats.

What about fractions of a seat?

Fractions of the full cost of a seat follow certain rules determined by a system called the highest remainder. In its simplest form, after all the whole seat quotas (e.g. 25,000) has been deducted from the total number of votes for each party,  the highest vote remaining for any of the lists receives a seat.


Total number of valid votes: 100,000

Number of seats in district: 4

Cost of one seat = Total Number of Valid Votes / Number of seats = 25,000


6 lists, 4 seats in contention

List Name


Seats Won


The Revolution Continues




Freedom and Justice




The Egyptian Bloc
















Because the revolution continues got more than the quota or cost for one seat, it is awarded a seat. The rest of the parties did not get enough votes to secure one seat. So where do the remaining three seats go? They go to the highest remainders after the full votes for a complete seat are subtracted.

The three highest remainders are: Freedom and Justice Party (23k), Al-Wasat (17k) and Revolution Continues (15k).

The three seats go to the three highest remainders.

Nationwide Constraints

In order for a list to be eligible to win any of the seats, a list must have won at least 0.5% of the nationwide valid votes.

How are seats allocated within the list?

The general rule is that each list has an ordered list of candidates. The candidates chosen on the list are by order. The candidates on the list win the seat according to their order within a list. If for example a list wins three seats, then the first three on the list have seats in parliament.

50% worker/farmer rule

The exception to this rule is when the professionals that will be in parliament are more than 50%. In this case, one of the lists will have to skip the professional and give the seat to the next worker/farmer on the list. The list that will have to suffer this is the one with the least ‘coefficient’.

A ‘coefficient’ is calculated as = total number of valid ballots / number of seats won by list. 

Nationwide Numbers for Peoples’ Assembly


  • Number of elected individual seats: 166 (1/3 of total seats)
  • Number of elected list seats: 332 (2/3 of total seats)
  • Total Number of elected seats: 498
  • Percentage of seats that must be allocated to farmers/workers: At least 50 %

Electoral Districts/Constituencies

  • Total number of electoral districts / constituencies for lists: 46
  • Total number of electoral districts / constituencies for individuals: 83

Seats per district/constituency for lists

  • 15 districts have four seats
  • One district has six seats
  • 19 districts have eight seats
  • Nine districts have 10 seats
  • Two districts have 12 seats

[Developed in partnership with Ahram Online].

From Jadaliyya Editors:

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