Islamist parties seek to end Parliament’s farmer and worker quota

Islamist parties in Parliament want to cancel the 50 percent quota for worker and farmer parliamentary seats in the new constitution, members of the parties said Friday.

“The party calls for removing the 50 percent quota from the new constitution because it discriminates in favor of a class,” Fahmy Abdu, a Freedom and Justice Party MP, told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Ahmed Khalil, the spokesperson for the Nour Party parliamentary caucus, said his party has adopted the same position, as “it is not appropriate for the future.” He added that if other parties and political forces reject this idea, his party would call for reducing the quota by half to 25 percent.

Pursuant to the principle of equality, the Asala Party will call for canceling the worker and farmer quota, said Adel Afify, the head of the Salafi-oriented Asala Party. He added that the quota does not fit with the process of building a state, noting that the rule was established under former President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Times are different now and we cannot discriminate between one class and  another, Afify said, stressing that his party strongly rejects any state discrimination.

The interim constitution issued in March 2011 retained an article from the former constitution allocating 50 percent of parliamentary seats to farmers and workers.

A National Accord Conference sponsored by the government last June called for the quota to be canceled, saying it has weakened the role of Parliament since the Nasser era. The participating political forces demanded that candidates have complete awareness of their legislative roles, which according to them does not apply to farmer and worker candidates.

Former International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei came under sharp criticism in 2010 after calling on the then-Mubarak government to abolish the farmer and worker quota.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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