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Egyptian constitutional referendum, 2012

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Egyptian constitutional referendum, 2012

Egyptian constitutional referendum, 2012
Yes or no Votes Percentage
Yes 10,693,911 63.83%
No 6,061,011 36.17%
Valid votes 16,754,922 98.22%
Invalid or blank votes 303,395 1.78%
Total votes 17,058,317 100.00%
Voter turnout 32.86%
Electorate 51,919,067
Results by Governorate
  Governorate that voted "Yes".
  Governorate that voted "No".
  Governorate that voted "Yes" at the national average or below.
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Constitution (history)
Political parties (former)

A constitutional referendum was held in Egypt in two rounds on 15 and 22 December 2012.[1] Egyptians living abroad were scheduled to vote between 8 and 11 December.[2] Voting for expatriates had been delayed until 12 December 2012[3] and was extended until 17 December 2012.[4] Voters were asked whether they approve of the draft constitution that was approved by the Constituent Assembly on 30 November 2012.[5]

Unofficial results reported on 23 December 2012 found that 32.9% of the electorate voted and that the constitution was approved with 63.8% of the vote in favor over the two rounds of polling.[6]

During the campaign, supporters of the draft constitution argued that the constitution would provide stability. Most opponents argued that the constitution was too favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood, and did not grant sufficient minority rights. However, some extreme Salafists also opposed the constitution, arguing that it should have been based more closely on Sharia law.

The supreme committee for supervising the constitution referendum was formed on 3 December 2012.[7] Mohammad Salim Al-Awa stated that a new Constituent Assembly would be formed within three months through general elections if the draft Constitution was voted down. The new assembly would have six months to write the new constitution.[8] The general secretary of the constitution referendum supreme committee resigned for health reasons.[9]


The Constituent Assembly was originally elected by Parliament in March 2012, before being dissolved by a court in April after it was deemed unconstitutional.[10] A second Assembly was elected by Parliament during the summer.[11] The second Constituent Assembly produced on 30 November 2012 a 234 article draft constitution,[12] after it approved each article individually during a 19-hour meeting starting on 29 November.[5]

Judicial response

Egyptian Judges Club members agreed to boycott the referendum.[13] However the decisions of the club are non-binding on its members.[14] Judge Mohamed Awad, who is a member of the Judges for Egypt reform movement, said that 90 percent of judges would monitor the referendum.[15] Mohamed Gadallah, the legal adviser to the Egyptian president, stated that Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council would oversee the referendum.[16] The judges that were on strike responded that the Supreme Judicial Council decision was not final and that judges could individually refuse to participate.[17]


The draft constitution ended Egypt's all-powerful presidency, instituted a stronger parliament, and contained provisions against torture or detention without trial. But it also gave Egypt's generals much of the power and privilege they had during the [19]

Article 2, defining the relationship between Islam and Egyptian law, remained essentially unchanged from Egypt's old constitution. The new charter said that the legal code stems from "the principles of Islamic law,” wording that is broad enough to allow for individual rights and freedoms.[20] But in an attempted compromise between the ultraconservatives and their liberal opponents, the proposed constitution added a new article defining those principles in accordance with established schools of Sunni Muslim thought.[18]

Article 50 preserved the right to assembly but required "notification" of such gatherings.[20] The constitution called for freedom from discrimination, but did not specify whether women or religious minorities were protected. A provision on women's equality was left out to avoid a dispute after ultraconservatives insisted that women's equality should be qualified by compliance with religious laws.[18] One article that passed pertained to arbitrary arrest and detention rights. The article said that no person may be "arrested, searched, incarcerated, deprived of freedom in any way and/or confined“ unless it is ordered by a "competent judge". Another article stipulated that anyone jailed must be told why in writing within 12 hours, and the case must go to investigators within 24 hours. Detainees cannot be interrogated without their attorney or one appointed to them being present, the article also stated. Phone conversations, electronic correspondence and other communication cannot be listened to without a warrant.[21]

The new constitution limited the President to two four-year terms,[22] marking a clear shift away from the era of Mubarak, who ruled for 30 years. But other checks on presidential power remained ill-defined.[20] The defense minister would be chosen from the military's officers. Insulating the armed forces from parliamentary oversight, a special council that included military officers would oversee military affairs and the defense budget.[18] Ziad al-Ali of the International Institute for Democratic and Electoral Assistance noted that another article in the document called for the election of local councils in each province but kept all the power in the hands of federally appointed governors. And even though Egypt's pervasive public corruption was a major complaint by those who forced Hosni Mubarak from power, the assembly declined to borrow any international models to promote transparency, Ali said. "There won't be a huge improvement in the way government works and the way services are delivered, and that is a setback for democracy."[18]



The Al Nour Party and the Building and Development Party supported the draft constitution because it would provide stability.[23][24] Workers unions, many of which are dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, have stated that they support the draft constitution.[25] Mohamed Mostafa, the spokesperson of Al-Azhar, is in favor of the draft constitution.[26] The Safety and Development Party accused the judges who were boycotting the referendum of undermining stability.[27] The Freedom and Justice Party launched a campaign urging a yes vote on the draft constitution.[28]


Women's rights activists opposed the draft constitution on the grounds that the exclusion of explicit women's rights in the draft constitution opened the door to changes in women's rights.[29] The People's Representatives Coalition opposed the draft constitution, launching an awareness campaign entitled "Reject your constitution".[30] The Salafi Jihadi Movement boycotted the draft constitution because it "does not apply Islamic Sharia".[31] They stated that they were trying to convince other Islamists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, to vote no on the draft constitution as well.[32]

The National Salvation Front called for a no vote on the draft constitution. They put forth a number of conditions, which included: free and fair elections, holding the vote on one day, supervision of the vote, protection for polling places, and immediate announcement of voting results at polling places. If the demands were not met, they asked voters to vote no.[33] Baha'a Anwar, a spokesperson for the Shi'a in Egypt, stated that Shi'a would not take part in the referendum.[26] Sufi Sheikh Aboul Azayem opposed the draft constitution, arguing that it was only favorable towards the Muslim Brotherhood.[26] Egyptian journalists opposed the draft constitution because they believed it would limit freedom of expression.[34]

The Strong Egypt Party announced that it would launch a no vote campaign on the draft constitution.[35] The Egyptian Current Party has asked voters to vote no on the constitution.[36] The Egyptian Popular Current announced it would vote no on the constitution.[37] The Egyptian Social Democratic Party said the same.[37] The Constitution Party also encouraged a no vote on the draft constitution.[37] The Free Egyptians Party boycotted the vote.[37]

The Hazemoun movement, made up of followers of Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a Salafi preacher, came out against the draft constitution.[38] The Salafi Front also opposed the draft constitution, arguing that the constitution should have made Sharia itself the main source of legislation, not the principles. They also argued that Christians and Jews should be governed by Islamic law and that the constitution should have stated that "divine authority" is the source of power not the people.[38] In addition, Coptic Christians also opposed the draft constitution, walking out of the constitution drafting session and prompting Khaled Dawoud, a spokesman of National Salvation Front, to state, "this is probably the first time in our history that the Christians were not present in writing the constitution".[39]


Egyptian constitutional referendum, 2012
Choice Votes %
Referendum passed Yes 10,693,911 63.8
No 6,061,101 36.2
Valid votes 16,755,012 98.2
Invalid or blank votes 303,395 1.8
Total votes 17,058,317 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 51,919,067 32.9
Source: Egypt Independent

By governorate

Governorate[40] Eligible voters Voter turnout Total votes Valid votes Invalid votes "Yes" votes "Yes" % "No" votes "No" %
Cairo 6,580,478 34.8% 2,291,040 2,254,698 36,342 974,371 43.2% 1,280,327 56.8%
Giza 4,383,701 34.6% ? 1,493,092 24,105 995,417 66.7% 497,675 33.3%
Dakahlia 3,719,758 31.5% ? 1,150,130 21,013 631,219 54.9% 518,911 45.1%
Sharqia 3,565,351 32.0% ? 1,120,328 21,143 737,503 65.8% 382,825 34.2%
Alexandria 3,347,770 36.2% ? 1,193,691 16,883 663,975 55.6% 529,716 44.4%
Beheira 3,276,930 33.7% ? 1,084,442 18,505 818,755 75.5% 265,687 24.5%
Gharbia 2,948,656 33.9% ? 980,497 18,596 468,488 47.8% 512,009 52.2%
Minya 2,718,947 34.5% ? 916,094 23,165 760,704 83% 155,390 17%
Qalyubia 2,639,808 32.9% ? 853,125 15,224 512,055 60% 341,070 40%
Sohag 2,393,672 25.4% ? 593,546 13,320 467,029 78.7% 126,517 21.3%
Monufia 2,236,898 34.0% ? 745,373 14,951 364,374 48.9% 380,999 51.1%
Asyut 2,127,688 28.0% ? 581,707 14,176 442,506 76.1% 139,201 23.9%
Kafr el-Sheikh 1,886,212 29.6% ? 548,554 8,992 360,994 65.8% 187,560 34.2%
Qena 1,629,713 22.8% ? 364,509 6,743 307,839 84.5% 56,670 15.5%
Faiyum 1,579,694 35.2% ? 544,109 12,441 486,890 89.5% 57,219 10.5%
Beni Suef 1,454,278 38.7% ? 549,937 13,054 466,248 84.8% 83,689 15.2%
Aswan 872,740 22.7% ? 194,416 3,691 149,020 76.7% 45,396 23.3%
Damietta 868,773 37.2% ? 318,944 4,354 205,378 64.4% 113,566 35.6%
Ismailia 713,963 36.4% ? 256,210 3,435 179,235 70% 76,975 30%
Luxor 685,009 26.0% ? 174,620 3,512 133,779 76.6% 40,841 23.4%
Port Said 445,322 38.0% ? 166,931 2,298 85,353 51.1% 81,578 48.9%
Suez 387,522 38.7% ? 147,903 1,880 104,061 70.4% 43,842 29.6%
Red Sea 232,388 30.7% ? 70,432 841 44,116 62.6% 26,316 37.4%
North Sinai 215,618 30.6% ? 64,964 949 50,726 78.1% 14,238 21.9%
Matruh 212,495 36.5% ? 76,630 863 70,237 91.7% 6,393 8.3%
New Valley 143,584 32.9% 48,440 47,775 665 41,728 87.3% 6,047 12.7%
South Sinai 65,407 29.6% 19,351 19,023 328 12,157 63.8% 6,866 36.2%


After the referendum, President Mohamed Morsi said in a speech on television that the Egyptians voting against the constitutional referendum were within their rights, "because Egypt of the revolution – Egypt's people and its elected president – can never feel annoyed by the active patriotic opposition. We don't want to go back to the era of the one opinion and fabricated fake majorities."[41] With regard to the referendum, Morsi went on to add that "there have been mistakes here and there, and I bear responsibility", but that "no matter what the hardships of the past [were], I see it as the pain of birthing the new Egypt ... It is truly the dawn of [a] new Egypt, which has risen and is now shining."[41]

In a response to the referendum, the United States Department of State issued a statement noting that "[m]any Egyptians have voiced deep concerns about the substance of the constitution and the constitutional process" and further stating that "President Morsi, as the democratically elected leader of Egypt, has a special responsibility to move forward in a way that recognizes the urgent need to bridge divisions, build trust, and broaden support for the political process."[42]


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  2. ^ "Egypt's expats to vote on constitution 8 December". Ahram Online. 3 November 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Sara Abou Bakr (7 December 2012). "Constitutional referendum postponed". Daily News Egypt. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Egypt expat voting extended to Monday 8pm". Ahram Online. 15 December 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Islamist constitution spurs controversy in Egypt as protests grow RT (TV network), 30 November 2012
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  11. ^ "Egypt parties end deadlock over constitutional panel". BBC News Middle East. 8 June 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  12. ^ Egypt draft constitution adopted, goes to referendum Hindustan Times, 30 November 2012
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  14. ^ "Egypt judges refuse to oversee Morsi referendum". BBC. 2 December 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  15. ^ "90 pct of judges will monitor Egypt's constitution poll, claims head of Alexandria Appeal Court". Ahram Online. 3 December 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  16. ^ "Egypt Judicial Council to oversee referendum". Al Jazeera. 3 December 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  17. ^ "Judges, legal experts weigh up scenarios ahead of constitutional referendum". Ahram Online. 3 December 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  18. ^ a b c d e David D Kirkpatrick (29 November 2012). "Egyptian Islamists Approve Draft Constitution Despite Objections". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  19. ^ a b "Egypt: New Constitution Mixed on Support of Rights Draft Adopted Without Consensus Amid Political Crisis". Human Rights Watch. 30 November 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  20. ^ a b c Stephanie McCrummen and Ingy Hassieb (29 November 2012). "Egyptian assembly rushes to vote on new constitution". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  21. ^ "Movement on new Egyptian constitution, despite fervent opposition". CNN. 30 November 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  22. ^ Egypt to hold December referendum on new constitution BBC News, 1 December 2012
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  25. ^ Liliana Mihaila (3 December 2012). "Workers' unions support draft constitution". Daily News Egypt. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
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  28. ^ Liliana Mihaila (9 December 2012). "FJP launches referendum campaign". Daily News Egypt. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  29. ^ "Women's rights activists call for 'no' vote on constitutional referendum". Egypt Independent. 2 December 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
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  32. ^ "Salafi Jihadi movement hopes to sway Islamists to reject constitution". Egypt Independent. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  33. ^ "NSF express concern over 'fairness' of Egypt constitutional poll". Ahram Online. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  34. ^ Dina Samak (4 December 2012). "Egyptian journalists protest draft constitution". Ahram Online. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  35. ^ "Abul-Fotouh's Strong Egypt Party to vote no at referendum". Ahram Online. 10 December 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  36. ^ Dina Samak (11 December 2012). "Egyptian opposition's dilemma: To vote or not to vote". Ahram Online. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  37. ^ a b c d "Opposition forces gear towards a 'no' vote". Ahram Online. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  38. ^ a b Omar Halawa (13 December 2012). "Despite apparent support for Morsy, Salafis are divided over constitution". Egypt Independent. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  39. ^ Matt Bradley (25 December 2012). "Egypt Voters Approve Constitution". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  40. ^ "إستفتاء.مصر – نتيجة الاستفتاء على مستوى المحافظات". Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  41. ^ a b David D Kirkpatrick (26 December 2012). "Morsi Admits 'Mistakes' in Drafting Egypt's Constitution". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  42. ^ Patrick Ventrell (25 December 2012). "Referendum on the Egyptian Constitution: Press Statement". United States Department of State. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
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