What is the structure of government and society in Egypt?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The Egyptian government has undergone many changes and revolutions throughout the centuries; however, though the government is primarily a republic, which it has been since 1952, it is also an authoritarian government. This authoritarianism has its roots in the system of pharaohs in which kings were treated as absolute ruling god-kings. Similarly to how the pharaoh ruled with absolute authority, Egypt's presidents under its republic also rule with central authority. The government is also what we call a semi-presidential system, which means it is governed by both a president and a prime minister.

After the Revolution of 2011, Egypt's most recent revolution, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces temporarily assumed presidential power, promising to hold presidential elections after the new constitution was drafted. A new House of Representatives and Consultative Council were elected, also called the People's Assembly, or Maglis El-Shaab, and the Shura Council, or Maglis El-Shura respectively. These two legislative branches drafted a new constitution, and the first civilian presidential election was held in 2012, in which Mohamed Morsi was elected. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi currently holds the presidency. However, as with previous constitutions, Egypt's president is still considered to hold the greatest amount of power. Under the constitution, "the president is supreme commander, declares war, concludes treaties, proposes and vetoes legislation," and may even assume the powers of parliament in states of emergency, such as when under martial law (Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, "Government and Politics"). The president is also responsible for appointing the prime minister and the cabinet.

The Maglis El-Shaab, or House of Representatives, is the main legislative body. It consists of 540 members who are elected and 27 members appointed by the president. At any time, the president has the authority to dissolve the Maglis El-Shaab just as it was dissolved during the Revolution of 2011.

The Megalis El-Shura, or Shura Council, is the house of Parliament. It consists of 176 elected members and 88 members appointed by the president. The Megalis El-Shura has limited legislative authority and mostly serves to resolve disputes.

While in the past Egypt had only a one-party system, it is currently a multi-party system. The most popular parties include the al-Nour Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Freedom and Justice Party, Free Egyptians Party, Justice Party, and the Wasat Party.

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