News / Middle East

Will Islamists, Mubarak Loyalists Win in Upcoming Egypt Elections?

Anti-government protesters hold an Egyptian flag during demonstrations in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo in early February.
Anti-government protesters hold an Egyptian flag during demonstrations in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo in early February.
Mohamed Elshinnawi

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series: Egypt’s Transition
Parts 1 / 2 / 3

Since Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down last February, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces took on the temporary rule of the country. According to the council’s plan, parliamentary elections will be held in September of this year, followed by presidential elections at the end of this year.

Egyptians are witnessing newfound freedom in forming political parties and getting ready for the country’s first free and fair parliamentary elections since the 1952 revolution. However, they are beginning to worry about what kind of political system will emerge from the ruins of the Mubarak regime.

Some two dozen parties will compete to win seats but many political parties especially the newly established ones will have no time to develop, organize campaigns and mobilize support. Mohammed Nosseir, a leading member of the Democratic Front Party established in 2007 said several liberal parties feel the military council has not offer a clear political roadmap.

“Currently what we are receiving is different kind of steps, Supreme Council of the Armed Forces produces laws every now and then, but we are not aware what will happen in the future.” said Nosseir. “A roadmap has not been produced yet and everyone is stuck and this is making a big confusion for all parties and individuals who are intending to participate in the elections. There is no really clear structure yet so each one can position himself.”

Islamists, Mubarak loyalists are coming

Sobhi Saleh (l), a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood and former member of parliament, is surrounded by supporters in Cairo, Egypt, May 12, 2011
Sobhi Saleh (l), a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood and former member of parliament, is surrounded by supporters in Cairo, Egypt, May 12, 2011

Given such a tight timeframe between now and September, Nosseir and leaders of other liberal parties fear a risk that the new parliament will end up with elected members from only few parties including the well- organized, well financed Muslim Brotherhood which would likely benefit from holding the elections so quickly. Nosseir said this will have serious implications for the new constitution as well as shaping the political future of Egypt.

“We need a clear law to define the role of religion in politics; if they can capitalize on religious slogans or not, if they can capitalize on churches and mosques where currently the Muslim Brotherhood has been capitalizing on this to push for their own agenda,” he said.

Historically, the most politically pervasive groups have been the Muslim Brotherhood and, until its recent court-ordered dissolution, the National Democratic Party, whose former members can reconstitute it under a different name.

Tug war between the military and the street

Many political parties are trying to push the Council of the Armed Forces to agree to postpone the parliamentary elections till a new constitution is drafted. One complaint which is widespread now in Egypt is that the military council issues decrees without regularly consulting with the representatives of the groups that started the revolution. Former U.S. Ambassador to the UAE, Bill Rugh visited Egypt recently and wrote an article entitled Revolution Is Incomplete.

He said Egyptians are still uneasy about the incompleteness of their revolution. Ambassador Rugh expects more public pressure to clarify the political roadmap of post-revolution Egypt.

“The street protesters continue to come out and make demands especially every Friday and they have had an influence on the military,” he said. “The Generals don’t have the habit of discussing their policies in advance with the public; they discuss it among themselves and then announce it. But if the people in the street are not happy with the decisions, they protest and those protests have had some influence.”

The lack of clarity prompted Al Wafd, the oldest liberal party in Egypt to form a coalition with the Muslim Brotherhood’s newly established Freedom and Justice Party and several junior parties to ease the fear that Egypt may become a theocracy. Al-Azhar, the main source of Islamic learning in Egypt weighed in the debate and declared there is no room in Islam for a “theocracy”. In a document signed by Muslim scholars and Egyptian Christian intellectuals, Al-Azhar called for a democratic transition that emphasizes separation of powers.

What role would the next president play?


Another question that is crying for an answer is the nature of the new political system in Egypt and whether it would be presidential or parliamentary system or a mix of both. In the past 60 years, Egyptian president was given a broad list of authorities that made him the absolute authority. Egyptians are tired of going from one Pharaoh to another but only the new constitution will define the limits of presidential powers. Ambassador Rugh discussed this dilemma with a presidential candidate.

“I had a conversation with Mohamed El-Baradei, who is one of the candidates for president and I asked him if he had any contacts with the Generals who are setting the rules and he said no," said Rugh. "And Mohamed El-Barade said that the Generals are not revealing their hand as to how the new political system will look, how much power the president will have. And he said how can I apply for a job if I do not know what the job description is?”

Will the military support a certain candidate?

Until recently most Egyptians shared with George Ishaq, founder of the pro-democracy protest movement "Kifaya” a prediction that there will likely be two front runners for presidential candidates this year; Dr. Baradei and Amr Moussa.

Mohamed ElBaradei (file photo)
Mohamed ElBaradei (file photo)

Mohamed ElBaradei, is former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Amr Moussa, is the recent secretary-general of the Arab League. ElBaradei's principal, and significant, obstacle is that his support base is very narrow, having been an outsider to Egypt throughout his professional life. Moussa's principal obstacle is his previous, brief association with the Mubarak regime, though he fell out of favor and was removed from his post as foreign minister.

On the positive side, both have substantial international experience. But according to the latest Facebook poll conducted by Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Mohamed ElBaradei is the most favorable candidate followed by Mohamed Salim Al Awa.

He is a moderate Islamist who just announced his intention to run as a presidential candidate. In the third place came General Ahmed Shafiq, a former civil aviation minister in the former regime. Skeptics are suspicious that the military council conducted the poll in order to define who the candidate the military would support is. But others said the military personnel are not permitted to vote anyway.

While the direction of Egypt’s political transition is still unknown, experts expect that if parliamentary elections are held in September, followed by presidential elections, most political forces, especially those which emerged during the revolution will not be represented in the parliament or have a say on the new constitution. That means the likely winners in the upcoming elections will be the Islamists and remnants of the Mubarak dissolved party: the National Democratic Party.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

UN Tackles Illicit Wildlife Poaching Amid Cecil the Lion Uproar

The 193-member General Assembly adopts its first resolution on the issue following a two-year campaign by Germany and Gabon More

Trump Tops Poll as Rivals Battle to Make Debate

Donald Trump jumps into a big lead in Republican presidential race, according to latest poll 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs