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

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora