Monday,27 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1273, (3 - 9 December 2015)
Monday,27 May, 2019
Issue 1273, (3 - 9 December 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Nour Party empty-handed

The Nour Party blames everyone except itself for its poor showing in parliamentary polls, Amany Maged reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

The Nour Party has paid heavily for the loss of public confidence in the Islamist trend following the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in the summer of 2013. Its decline in popularity was nowhere more evident than in the first and second stages of the parliamentary elections.

In the first stage of the elections it won only eight out of the 222 seats in which it was standing. In the second stage only four Nour Party candidates made it to the run-offs as individuals.

In the 2012 elections the Nour Party won 20 per cent of parliamentary seats. In news conferences and statements, Nour Party officials attempted to put a brave face on what can only be described as a disastrous result.

Nour Party President Younis Makhyoun insisted his party had been honoured to take part in the elections and added there was no intention to dissolve the party or disengage from politics. He stressed the party remained committed to placing national welfare above all other considerations despite security and media harassment.

Yasser Borhami, the head of Salafist Calling, complained of election irregularities, vote buying and the way the election processes had been dominated by wealthy businessmen.

“We are in the midst of a painful reality,” said Borhami. “Those who sowed corruption before the revolution have taken centre stage. In addition there are the phenomena of disintegration, outside pressures, schemes to destroy society, activities by organisations supported from abroad, and money spent to purchase consciences by those who hope to amass more money through their control of parliament.”

Borhami posted bitterly sarcastic remarks on his Twitter account.

“I offer my congratulations to those government employees who failed to do their duty and treat people equally and to every briber, bribe-taker and their middlemen. You have succeeded in excluding the Nour Party from representing the Islamist movement.”

Alluding to business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, founder of the Free Egyptians Party, Borhami continued: “Now the millionaire is getting ready to form Egypt’s government. You have only yourselves to blame, as future generations will blame you, because you refused or failed to read the situation and do what is right. To the architects of the 2015 elections, to the boycotters, the hired media, the Muslim Brothers and their followers, to the boycotting Salafist sheikhs and their followers, congratulations.”

 Talaat Marzouk, Nour Party vice president for legal affairs, says the party is contesting the results of the first stage in the West Delta regional constituency where the Higher Electoral Commission (HEC) declared the For the Love of Egypt coalition the winner, on the grounds that both government and private media had spread negative propaganda about Nour candidates throughout the campaign. Violations, he says, were documented by official monitoring committees, NGOs allowed to monitor the polls and the National Council for Human Rights though they met without “any effective response from the HEC”.

Marzouk also complained about the way voters were bribed.

“All this has been documented, aurally and visually, as has the passive attitude of the HEC and the police towards such violations.”

The Nour Party’s poor showing is the result of several factors. Many former members split from the party — both before and after the 30 June Revolution — and form rival groups. The Watan (Homeland) Party, led by Emad Abdel-Ghaffour, and the Asala (Authenticity) Party headed by Ehab Shiha, are just two parties that have attracted a large Salafist following. The resulting split in Salafist ranks were mirrored in the results of the parliamentary elections.

The Nour Party’s position toward the 30 June Revolution and its decision to support the state and the 3 July roadmap alienated that portion of its base that sympathised with the Muslim Brotherhood. The decline in its traditional base was reflected in losses in the party’s onetime strongholds of Alexandria, Beheira and Marsa Matrouh.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s relentless campaign against the Nour Party and its leaders, and its attempt to persuade its supporters not to vote for Nour Party candidates, also impacted on the results.

The Nour Party had no clear strategy to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood propaganda and defections. Nor was it able to counterbalance a media discourse which consistently portrayed it as attempting to fill the void left by the Muslim Brotherhood. It was also accused of working with the West, at the expense of Egyptian national interests, and against President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. Such consistent attacks sapped support for a party which, according to some estimates, represents no more than 10 per cent of the Salafist trend.

Ironically, the Nour Party’s inclusion of women and Copts on its lists, in compliance with the parliamentary election law, worked against it. Candidates that were perceived as turncoats  sparked anger among the Coptic community and, in the eyes of some, generated a sectarian confrontation between the party and church.

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