Two secular coalitions created in Egypt in the run-up to elections

Two electoral coalitions have been formed on August 10th by secular political parties of Egypt. They gather eleven different parties in total, divided between the Wafd-led “Wafd Alliance” and the National Democratic Party-led “Egyptian Front”. The move came following the withdrawal of Amr Moussa, chairman of the constitutional committee that drafted Egypt’s new constitution last January, from the Alliance of the Egyptian Nation – a bloc of liberal and leftists political forces – he failed to reunite. The recent split  comes at the same time as the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood party on August 9th.Both events underline the lack of unity between leftist political forces, as well as limited political freedom in the country.

Two independent secular blocs formed

Following the collapse of the former Alliance for the Egyptian Nation emerged two independent political blocs, under two different banners. First, the “Egyptian Wafd Alliance” – named after Egypt’s oldest party – would comprise the Wafd, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Reform and Development Party, the Conservative Party and the Awareness Party. The coalition’s electoral platform officially aims at “implementing the new constitution's articles, especially on freedoms, human rights and social equality.” It is "mainly based on achieving a democratic rule and separating religion from politics," said political analyst Amr Al-Shobaki. Their political agreement should distribute the parliamentary list candidates as follows : 40% for Wafd party, 30% for the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the remaining 30% to the three other allied parties.

Second, former members of Mubarak’s NDP organised an “Egyptian Front” electoral alliance, reuniting the Congress Party, the Tagammu Party, the Misr Baladi party, the National Movement formed by Mubarak’s last prime minister, Modern Egypt and Al-Ghad party. The National Movement Party had blamed Moussa’s alliance for keeping close relations with Muslim Brotherhood leaders. The NDP-ruled coalition spokesman Mostafa Bakri denied recent suspicion about the coalition being headed by former Mubarak followers and declared it would be the country’s main secular force in the coming parliamentary elections.

Failure to create a unique secular force

Recent attempts to forge one unique opposition front gathering all secular political parties have failed in Egypt. On 4 July Amr Moussa, Egypt’s former Foreign Minister and head of the committee that drafted the country’s new constitution at the beginning of the year, had announced that his efforts to form an all-encompassing coalition gathering all secular political parties and able to win the coming parliamentary elections had reached a deadlock. His aim was to reunite most leftist and liberal forces under the unique opposition “Alliance for the Egyptian Nation”, a proposal that failed due to the political parties’ individual interests.

Moussa’s spokesman Ahmed Kamel denounced “a number of difficulties, sensitivities, narrow-minded manoeuvres and attempts to exclude other factions are still there [and] preventing the reaching of a final decision on the Alliance of the Egyptian Nation.” The Wafd Party notably refused the presence of former President Mubarak’s National Democratic Party in the alliance, and asked for it to be named “Wafd’s Alliance” while the Free Egyptian Party also imposed pre-conditions to remain in the alliance. Kamel further called for political factions to fulfil the country’s transitional roadmap.

NDP back in politics while Muslim Brotherhood banned

The NDP benefitted from a recent justice ruling on 14 July that enabled it to run in the coming elections. The Cairo Appeals Court for Urgent Matters overturned a previous ruling that had banned the leaders of former President Hosni Mubarak’s party to participate in politics underlining that leaders’ right to political participation had been violated by the previous verdict and that the lower court had no jurisdiction to ban people from running for elections. Nevertheless, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party was dissolved on August 9th by Egypt’s highest administrative court. The judges explained its links to the “terrorist group” undermined “national unity, social peace, the democratic system and threatened Egypt's national security.” The Brotherhood leaders have already been the subject of a massive crackdown, including being imprisoned and sentenced to death.

The recent events underline Egypt’s fragmented political scene and difficult stabilization after Hosni Mubarak was ousted by the 2011 popular uprising.


Sources : Ahram Online I, Ahram Online II, Egypt Independent, Fox News, European Forum for Solidarity and Democracy, Wall Street Journal.  

Author : Laura Gounon

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