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Egypt’s rival parties prepare for parliamentary elections

jeudi 28 août 2014, par La Rédaction

Parliamentary elections, which are being prepared in Egypt now, consist of the third and last milestone in the “road map” that was declared by the armed forces when former President Mohammed Morsi was ousted.

Yet, this milestone is different from previous ones, at least when it comes to political alliances among parties. The constitutional referendum (January 2014) and presidential elections (May 2014) have seen a satisfactory degree of consensus and partnership between most of the forces that took part in the July 3 coalition that overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood, following the June 30 revolution. The competition among those forces was not the norm, even in the presidential elections where there was not a real competition between presidential candidates (Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Hamdeen Sabahi) as the final election’s results have shown.

In terms of parliamentary elections, the coalition opposing the Brotherhood has been divided into rival alliances, where each seeks to reap the benefits of its participation in the confrontation against the Islamic regime. Obviously, any party will necessarily have as its adversary a former ally.

In the past months, the political forces that were united on July 3, 2013, to bring down the Brotherhood regime succeeded in putting off differences and contradictions. Yet, with the preparations of parliamentary elections, a struggle for seats has started to loom on the horizon.

The most obvious alliance so far is probably the Egyptian Front, which mainly includes the remnants and other forces and parties, namely the Egyptian Patriotic Movement, founded by Ahmed Shafiq, the Conference Party, founded by Amr Moussa, the last prime minister under Mubarak before his ouster, the Modern Egypt Party, and the el-Ghad Party, in addition to the leftist National Progressive Unionist Party, which endorsed Sisi in the presidential election, and the My Homeland Egypt Party.

The forces which were affiliated with the Mubarak regime and left political life after his ouster have heavily reappeared and revived their ambitions to participate in the state institutions after the growing attack on the revolutionary forces and the prosecution of their members, and after tolerance was shown towards the symbols of the ousted regime, the revolution was denounced and considered a foreign conspiracy that the Brotherhood participated in to generate chaos in Egypt.

On the other hand, the parties and political forces affiliated with revolution camp — or at least those who are not affiliated with the Mubarak regime — seem less able to build a cohesive and clearly defined front.

After multiple attempts, the features of two coalitions have emerged.

First is the Democratic Alliance for Civil Forces, which includes the Egyptian Popular Current, whose founder Sabahi ran for the presidency against Sisi, the Free Egypt Party, the Socialist People’s Alliance Party (SPAP), the Constitution Party and the Dignity Party. These parties were formed following the January 25 Revolution.

Second is the Egyptian Wafd Alliance, which includes, in addition to the Wafd party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Conservative Party, the Consciousness Party and the Reform and Development Misruna Party.

Parties with a clear weight remain out of these alliances, such as the Free Egyptians Party, which is a liberal party, the Nour Party, which is a Salafist party, and the Strong Egypt Party. The first is still examining conditions to join an alliance. As for the second, its religious reference and character prevent it from joining any of the existing alliances. As for the Strong Egypt Party, which is led by former Brotherhood leader Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh [Abdel Hady], it has not taken a final decision yet regarding parliamentary elections, and had announced its boycott of the presidential elections.

There are active efforts to integrate the Democratic Alliance to the Egyptian Waft Alliance in a single front. This was confirmed by the head of the Socialist People’s Alliance Party, Abdel-Ghaffar Shukr, in an interview with As-Safir. He said, “We are seeking to establish a broad alliance and we are negotiating with the al-Wafd Party and the Free Egyptians party for this purpose.” He added, “We have made contacts and negotiations, based on the need to prevent those affiliated with the former regimes, namely the Mubarak regime and the Brotherhood regime, from reaching parliament. For this reason, we are negotiating with those forces that believe in the two revolutions.”

This map cannot be viewed as final. Anyway, there is no map for constituencies, and the actual procedures for the election have not begun yet. The only thing that happened is the announcement of the formation of a committee supervising the elections to avoid violation of procedures in the road map and the new constitution, which required the state to start with parliamentary elections procedures within two months after the result of the presidential election are announced.

While the timetable for the elections remains undeclared until constituencies are determined geographically, the electoral alliances of today may be altered later, as confirmed by Amr Hashem Rabie, a researcher at the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. He told As-Safir that “electoral alliances are not final yet, and even the so-called remnants forces coalition cannot be considered irreversible.”

He said, “The map of the alliances may completely change, and there are reasons why political forces are confused prior to the elections, including the fact that parliamentary elections law is new to them and has not been implemented before, while the final division of constituencies has not been approved yet to enable each party to estimate its strength and weight in the constituencies. Moreover, the lists are closed, which surprised political parties that still do not know yet how to deal with it. In addition, each of the parties wants to dominate parliament, and at the same time, they do not estimate their weight in the street in a realistic way.”

Prior to the elections, whose details have not been announced yet, political forces and parties in Egypt have started to get ready for parliamentary battle. The coalition that was achieved, which was required in order to confront the Brotherhood on pragmatic basis, is falling today to allow other alliances to take place, which will not be devoid of any pragmatic basis.

Between forces that were put aside by the revolution and that are trying to return, and other forces that are trying to reap the fruits of democracy heralded by the revolution, the elections, which will determine the final destination of the road map, will take place.

(25-08-2014 - Mustafa Bassiouni)

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