Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1252, (25 June - 1 July 2015)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1252, (25 June - 1 July 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Poll put off

Dostour Party elections were abruptly postponed following a dispute over the number of members eligible to vote, reports Reem Leila

Al-Ahram Weekly

On 23 June, just three days before Dostour Party elections, the committee supervising the electoral process decided to postpone the ballot until further notice. A dispute over the number of party members eligible to cast their votes was the reason behind the delay, according to a statement the committee issued on Tuesday.

At the beginning of the week, Dostour Party announced the final four lists of candidates which were running for the party’s elections and which will remain the way they are when new elections are held. Up for grabs were the party’s presidency, secretary-general and treasurer. For the first time, elections were to take place through direct vote by the party’s eligible voting members.

Previous voting was conducted indirectly due to the party’s huge number of members, more than 20,000 when the party was established in 2012.

A senior source at the party told Al-Ahram Weekly on condition of anonymity that in the past, every 100 members used to delegate a representative to vote on their behalf. “There were at least 200 representatives allocated for this. Unlike the past, the party will this time hold its elections at the same time throughout the country’s governorates via direct vote due to the decrease of party members,” the source said.

Prominent party figures including activist Gamila Ismail, former manpower minister Ahmed Al-Borai and the party’s current President Hala Shukrallah were not running this term. Ismail was Shukrallah’s rival in the previous election.

Competition was to have taken place among candidates on four lists, each list comprising three members running for the presidency, secretary-general and treasurer. Candidates on the lists had been competing against each for the past week via their electoral campaigns. Mohamed Al-Gamal, Tarek Sharaf and Salah Khallaf were on the ‘Together We Can’ list, while Tamer Gomaa, Shadi Al-Toukhi and Mohamed Youssef were candidates of the list called ‘We will Develop Alternatives’. The ‘With Reason We Can Change’ list included Ahmed Bayoumi, Belal Said and Osama Anwar. ‘Why Not’ had Ahmed Metwalli, Sahar Ibrahim and Mohamed Safwat.

Members of the four lists were running for the presidency, secretary-general and treasurer respectively. According to Samah Al-Ghazawi, coordinator of ‘Together We Can’, candidates were chosen according to specific criterion. “Candidates running for the party’s presidency must be middle aged, have a clear political vision, good managerial skills, the ability to work on a team, political background and experience,” said Al-Ghazawi who added that candidates running for secretary-general must have all these characteristics in addition to the ability to communicate with all party members, taking into consideration their different social backgrounds.

“The post of secretary-general is administrative rather than political,” Al-Ghazawi said.

The source said each list had to pay LE3,000 to the party. “The money is used to develop new party branches.”

According to the same source, who intends to resign after the elections, 80 per cent of the party’s members are less than 30 years old. “They are the youth representing the January Revolution, therefore, I would like to give a better chance to youth to go up the leadership ladder,” said the source.

Al-Ghazawi, who had hoped to win in the elections, believes that competition among the four lists was equally strong. “We could not speculate about which of the four lists would win. Competition was very strong especially since all the candidates are relatively unknown to the public,” she said.

Al-Ghazawi said each of the four campaigns had worked independently and differently. “It took us long weeks of debate to set a clear vision for the future and identify campaign platforms. Then the members were asked to suggest who they thought would be the best leader to implement that programme.”

The liberal Dostour Party which was first created in April 2012 by Mohamed Al-Baradei, former vice- president in the 2013 transitional government, became embroiled in turmoil especially after Al-Baradei’s resignation later that year. The party was then headed by interim president Sayed Qassem until Shukrallah won the elections in February 2014, becoming the first Coptic woman to head a political party.

According to the senior source, the party’s general elections were supposed to take place four months ago but were postponed due to red tape and the slow pace in preparing the final lists.

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