A man shows his ink-stained finger as he leaves a polling centre in Egypt. Image Credit: REUTERS

Cairo: Egyptians today began voting to elect a new legislature in polls that will run until December.

The first round of the two-phase elections started at 9am (11 Dubai time) in 14 of Egypt’s 27 governorates including Giza, a twin city of Cairo, and Alexandria, the country’s second biggest city. Around 33 million people are eligible to vote in the two-day round.

Some 1,879 candidates are standing for the legislature or the Council of Deputies in the 14 governorates, according to official figures. A run-off vote is slated for November 23-24 for the first round.

The second phase of the polls will be conducted in 13 other governorates, including Cairo, on November 7-8 with the run-off vote scheduled for December 7-8.

Local TV stations showed queues of voters forming at several polling stations where balloting continues until 9pm on Saturday and Sunday.

According to the Egyptian electoral system, 284 contenders should be elected as independents while 284 others should be elected on the basis of the absolute closed list system whereby the list securing over 50 per cent of the cast ballots becomes the winner.

The head of the state has the constitutional right to appoint 28 more lawmakers, bringing the total number of the assembly’s members to 596.

In all, around 62.9 million Egyptians are eligible to vote in both rounds.

Voting is held amid strict precautions against the novel coronavirus. Polling stations are sterilised before and after voting. Voters are required to keep safe distancing and wear protective face masks.

The election of the House of Deputies for a five-year mandate comes after Egypt reinstated an upper house that was elected in August.

The reinstatement of the Senate was part of constitutional amendments endorsed in a public vote last year.