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Egypt’s civil parties prepare for upcoming elections

Following Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi’s announcement that parliamentary elections will be held early next year, Egypt’s civil parties are holding discussions aimed at forming alliances to guarantee electoral success.
A riot police stands in front of parliament in Cairo March 7, 2013. An Egyptian court threw the timetable for parliamentary elections into confusion on Wednesday, ordering the cancellation of President Mohamed Mursi's decree calling the vote and forcing a likely delay to polls due to start in April. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST ELECTIONS) - RTR3EP5H

Egyptians only have a few months left before they will take to the polls to select their parliamentary candidates. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for the beginning of next year, as announced by Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi on Nov. 8.

Political parties are preparing to participate in the elections by forming alliances that ensure they win the highest possible number of parliamentary seats.

National Salvation Front parties and various alliances

The parties of the National Salvation Front (NSF) are holding internal discussions to form alliances for the upcoming parliamentary elections. The discussions could result in all NSF parties joining a single alliance, or it could lead to the formation of multiple alliances — some comprising of just NSF parties and others of NSF and non-NSF parties — according to Farid Zahran, vice president of the Egyptian National Democratic Party, speaking to Al-Monitor.

The NSF includes a variety of political parties and movements. The most prominent NSF parties are the National Democratic Party, which espouses the principle of social democracy; the Dostour Party, founded by Mohamed ElBaradei; the Wafd Party, headed by El-Sayed al-Badawi; the Socialist Popular Alliance Party; the Popular Current, led by former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi; and the Egyptian Conference Party, founded by Amr Moussa, who is affiliated with the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Abdel Ghafar Shukr, chairman of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, told Al-Monitor that the party is currently discussing forming alliances with political parties that defend social justice issues such as the Arab Democratic Nasserist Party, the Al-Karama Party, the Popular Current and Tamarod movement. All of these parties, apart from the latter, are part of the NSF.

The media adviser for the Wafd Party, Motaz Salahuddin, affirmed to Al-Monitor that the party is not worried about running for the elections on its own, even though it has held many discussions on possible alliances. “We are a deep-rooted party and have influence on the Egyptian street,” said Salahuddin.

Despite the various meetings and discussions aiming at forming political alliances, the official announcement of these alliances will not come before the committee tasked with drafting the constitution specifies whether the electoral law will adopt an individual or list system.

Zahran said that the list system was preferable in parliamentary elections, because it ensured a just representation of all parties. He noted that the adoption of an individual system would mean that the old regime — relying on money, administrative influence and tribal affiliations — has made a comeback.

Zahran explained that if the constitution specified the list system, forming alliances will not be possible. Single-affiliation parties can agree on one candidate in a given electoral zone, preventing candidates belonging to these parties from running for the elections, which allow the former to win the elections.

The Muslim Brotherhood-led Anti-Coup Alliance refuses to participate in the elections

Majdi Karkar, the secretary-general of the Egyptian Labor Party and a member of the Anti-Coup Alliance, said in a statement to the press on Nov. 10 that the alliance will not participate in the elections, as they are the result of what he dubbed a “coup against legitimacy.” He affirmed that “this issue is settled within the alliance.”

The Anti-Coup Alliance comprises the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Wasat Party, the Labor Party, the Building and Development Party and the Al-Watan Party, in addition to a number of parties affiliated with the Islamic current.

Mixed electoral system

The NSF parties have proposed a new electoral law, other than the individual and list system, dubbed the “free popular choice.” According to the system, every list has its own code and every member on this list has a specific code. Voters can choose the list code if they wish to vote for all its members, one specific member code or many member codes. When voters choose the list code, every member will be granted an electoral vote. If voters choose a specific member code, the electoral vote will be granted to that chosen member specifically.

The counting process will be implemented over two phases. The first phase is dedicated to the lists as a whole; all votes given to the list are counted. During the second phase, the votes given to each member of the lists are counted.

Salahuddin affirmed that the NSF members in the committee tasked with drafting the law are pressing for the adoption of the free popular choice system.

Yesterday's allies, today's rivals

Egyptian parties formed alliances during the parliamentary elections of 2012 under different names. Some are still allies, while others are now rivals.

The Democratic Alliance for Egypt

The Democratic Alliance for Egypt comprises the FJP, which represents the Muslim Brotherhood; the Wasat Party, led by Abu al-Ula Madi; the Nasserist Al-Karama Party, which joined the NSF that is opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood; in addition to the Liberal Ghad el-Thawra Party and the Egyptian Labor Party.

The Islamist Bloc

The Islamist Bloc includes the Salafist Nour Party, the Authenticity Party and the Building and Development Party, affiliated with Gamaa Islamiya. The latter has currently joined the Anti-Coup Alliance led by the Muslim Brotherhood and has become opposed to the inclinations of the Nour Party.

The Egyptian Bloc

The Egyptian Bloc comprises the Egyptian Socialist Democratic Party, the Free Egyptians Party and the National Progressive Unionist Party.

The “Revolution Continues” Alliance

The “Revolution Continues” Alliance is comprised of parties formed by political activists affiliated with the January 25 Revolution: the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Freedom Egypt Party, the Egyptian Current Party, the Egyptian Alliance Party and the Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution. The alliance adopted the slogan, “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice.”

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