News / Africa

Egyptian Opposition Announces Boycott of Upcoming Parliamentary Election

Opposition leader Ayman Nour speaks to reporters at a press conference in Cairo, Egypt, 06 Apr 2010
Opposition leader Ayman Nour speaks to reporters at a press conference in Cairo, Egypt, 06 Apr 2010

Multimedia

Audio
  • Full interview with Shadi Hamid, Brookings Institute's Doha Center

Egypt's al-Ghad or Tomorrow Party has announced a boycott of the upcoming parliamentary election.  Al-Ghad's leader, former presidential candidate Ayman Nour, is calling the November elections "rigged," echoing earlier calls for boycott by opposition figure and Nobel Prize winner, Mohamed ElBaradei. This wouldn't be Egypt's first boycott.  Two decades ago, opposition parties banded together and refused to participate in the 1990 Parliamentary vote.

But most analysts say that was likely a mistake. Shadi Hamid is Director of Research at the Brookings Institute's Doha Center and a Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

Hilleary: Egyptian Opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei has been calling for a boycott of elections similar to that which was undertaken by opposition parties back in 1990. Take us back twenty years-what happened and what was the outcome?

Shadi Hamid, Director of Research at the Brookings Institute's Doha Center and Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy
Shadi Hamid, Director of Research at the Brookings Institute's Doha Center and Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy

Hamid: The 80s had been a period of greater political openness.  There had been some hopes for democratization, so for much of the decade, things were looking up.  Then, toward the end of 1988, things started to go downhill. 

The regime started to reinforce its grip on power and it instituted a new electoral law that the opposition found to be unfair.  They weren't consulted about it and they saw this as a major regression on the part of the regime.

So based on that and also based on a generally more repressive posture from the government at that time, the opposition got together-and this includes primarily the liberal Left party, the leftist Tegemmo Party, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, and in what was actually a fairly rare instance, they were able to actually agree on a common position.  So they boycotted.

Hilleary: But it didn't work out well for them in the end, did it?

Hamid: No, it didn't.  The first thing the Left Party definitely didn't consider it to be a success because-and throughout the 80s-they had had a significant representation in Parliament and obviously with a boycott, they were out of the scene for a few years, and when they ran again in 1995, they had become much weaker and weren't able to win many seats. 

And that's the problem with boycotts in general. It removes you from the political scene to some extent. You have less of a voice; you have less of a platform.  Because in the end, even though the Egyptian Parliament isn't very strong, it still gives opposition groups a venue to articulate their concerns, to get media coverage, and so on.   So that's one of the major costs that opposition groups have to consider when they are making this decision

Hilleary: If there's a boycott of these upcoming elections, what impact will that have on the presidential election next year?

Hamid: Well, first of all, there won't be much of a boycott in the upcoming parliamentary election.  Mohamed ElBaradei is obviously making this a key part of his campaign and he's really trying to bring the opposition together around that vision.  But so far, he's largely by himself in that even his closest ally in Egypt now -- the Muslim Brotherhood--is leaning towards participation.

So we're starting to see some division in the ranks of the opposition.  The Wafd Party has also made clear that they're going to participate.  And the Brotherhood and the Wafd are really the two strongest organized political forces in Egypt today.  So considering that, any boycott is going to be weak and largely ineffective.  Boycotts only work if all the major parties agree and are able to form a unified stand.  And that's not the case now.

You know, I don't think the question is whether or not a boycott would be successful.  I think the question is why did the opposition fail to unify and fail to have a strong stand in facing the regime. 

I think there's a very strong argument that now was the right time for a boycott and to really send a strong statement, not only to the regime but to the international community, that the process is no longer considered legitimate, and a stronger stance has to be taken. And that's what ElBaradei has been trying to promote? 

There have been parliamentary elections since 1976, and things have actually gotten considerably worse, more authoritarian than it was in the mid-1980s.  So considering that history, you have to start to wonder, is the current strategy working?

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs