While the current constitution dates from 2014, Egypt became a presidential republic in 1952. Under a presidential republic, the president – who serves as the head of state – selects the Cabinet and the prime minister; Mostafa Madbouly has occupied the role of the latter since 2018. The president is elected by an absolute majority of voters and initially serves a four-year term, which, conventionally, can be followed by a second term. However, a popular referendum held in April 2019 extended the presidential term to six years.
The 596-seat House of Representatives is the lower house of the bicameral legislature and is elected by proportional representation through direct and indirect elections every five years. Three-quarters of members are directly elected, 120 seats are reserved for women and minorities, and the president appoints another 28 seats. The most recent election, in December 2020, saw nearly 55% of contested seats awarded to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s Mostaqbal Watn (Nation’s Future) Party, bringing its total from 57 to 315 seats.
The Senate serves as the upper house of Parliament and was established by referendum in 2019; the 2014 constitution had abolished the earlier Shura Council. One-third of the Senate’s 300 members are elected by constituencies, one-third by proportional representation and one-third are appointed by the president.
Under the 2014 constitution, the judicial branch is independent from the executive. It comprises the Supreme Constitutional Court, the Administrative Prosecution and the State Council. The Supreme Judicial Council, which is responsible for the functioning of the entire judicial branch, pre-approves judges, who are then appointed by the president.
Per the latest World Bank data, 29.7% of Egyptians were living below the official poverty line in 2019, reflecting an upward trend from figures published in 2015-17. As part of wider efforts to tackle this issue, the government has sought to improve health care access and increase economic support for low-income Egyptians. For example, it plans to cover the cost of universal health insurance for households living below the country’s official poverty line, under an initiative that is expected to be fully rolled out by 2027.
In January 2020 the government implemented a new law to consolidate previous social insurance programmes into one, streamlining the process for participants. It is intended to improve social protections while ensuring the long-term viability of the pension system.
Compared to many nations in the region, Egypt’s government took a measured approach when it came to Covid-19 pandemic-related public health measures to prevent the spread of infection, ensuring that essential economic activities such as agriculture, logistics and construction were permitted to continue. However, given the low official death toll compared to many European countries, many Egyptians have declined to get vaccinated. As of mid-June 2022, 35% of the population was fully vaccinated and 13% was partially vaccinated. This was below the global average of 59% for at least partial vaccination and 65% for full.
In April 2022 the government announced that it would begin lifting restrictions for international arrivals, including the declaration form needed to enter the country. This is anticipated to ease the burden on tourists and facilitate the flow of passengers.
While Egypt has fared relatively well during the pandemic, challenges remain. Food security uncertainty stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 is a particular headwind, in combination with associated issues like inflation and foreign exchange risk. Strong demographic growth will prove crucial in the years to come, though meeting the population’s needs in terms of jobs, infrastructure, utilities and public services will likely determine Egypt’s course for the next decade. Sustainability will also become more important in the near term – particularly in the context of the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference, or COP27, to be hosted in Sharm El Sheikh in November.
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