Monday,17 December, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1366, (26 October - 1 November 2017)
Monday,17 December, 2018
Issue 1366, (26 October - 1 November 2017)

Ahram Weekly

In-Focus: Moment of truth

Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections will be a test. While many are running to back the incumbent, it would be to the latter’s honour to face a strong competitor, writes Galal Nassar

اقرأ باللغة العربية

A presidential decree was issued to form the High Commission for Elections (HCE), an explicit constitutional requirement, to be in charge of holding presidential, parliamentary and local elections and referendums. This paves the way for the HCE to hold presidential elections next year.

The moment of truth for Egypt’s political reality is here, in light of the absolute absence of political forces and opposition on the scene, the streets, and in action and participation. Media outlets are abuzz and very prominent on the stage even though they too are now towing the line and singing one tune whether or not you agree or disagree with it. They have become of one political tone supporting the incumbent political regime as an expression of their sense of sensitivity to the moment, seeing it as a time to close ranks with the regime and all components of the state.

Political and party forces have disappeared behind the walls of their headquarters after their numbers exploded to more than 150 parties in the wake of the 25 January 2011 Revolution. Political forces left the arenas of revolution fragmented in the form of alliances and coalitions without a platform, looking for leaderships to fill the vacuum that emerged due to the absence of party organisation that the people revolted against, the National Democratic Party, and the system it was built on. Other major and more organised powers (the Muslim Brotherhood) went behind the scenes to prepare to pounce on the presidential palace, parliament and all parts of the state and devour all other forces on the political stage. It was a painful and harsh experience in our modern history, even though it did not last longer than one year and was overthrown on 30 June 2013 through a popular revolution supported by the army, similar to the 25 January Revolution.

Historic parties such as the Wafd failed all tests due to internal disputes over leadership. Political forces such as the Popular Current and leftist forces failed because they blindly followed someone who makes seasonal appearances in political life, similar to climatic changes and the tide coming in and out during election season, embodying a personal ambition that could result in a current or party forging an alliance with any forces, even a fascist religious current that was once its arch enemy, just to reach power in parliament or the presidency.

The political elite mostly made do with watching from the fence, while others sufficed with clashing on Facebook and Twitter in battles similar to tilting at windmills, until most of them seemed to have detached from reality and all its crises and the public and citizens on the street, in villages, alleyways and hamlets. The absence of taking a stand resulted in an absence of leadership; the absence of engagement led to an absence of heroes while voices are screaming by the border for the heroes who fall victim to terrorism against soldiers and officers in the army or police. They are the sons of this country from every home that sacrifices without reward in battles they were forced into to protect this people, land and honour.

This political vacuum and absence of competition on the scene created a climate where some people are trying to transform the presidential electoral race into a carnival to re-elect President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi for a second term, even though he has not announced whether he will run again or not. They understood his statement that he is at the disposal of the people to mean he is asking for a new mandate from the people to run again. Those who enjoy such carnivals called for a campaign that many competed for in front of the cameras, on TV and social media. Some are genuine while others are savants of ingratiation, wanting to prove their loyalty but hurting their object of admiration out of excessive love.

Outside the carnival, I find myself displeased with this wretched political scene. Despite all efforts to be optimistic, now is the time for anyone who wants to nominate themselves to step up and announce themselves and their platform — to present ideas, solutions and mechanisms on all issues and crises, because elections everywhere in the world are a market for ideas presented to the electorate so they can choose the best among them. 

A state the size of Egypt must hold genuine presidential elections after two revolutions, sacrifices, suffering and immense challenges. Even the rational people who support President Al-Sisi agree on this and believe it is to his credit and added honour to win in truly competitive and strong elections in recognition of his role and sacrifices. 

A difficult win over strong opponents in an honest round of elections is a crown for him and does not detract from him. It would remain a distinctive landmark in Al-Sisi’s history and to his credit, and would enforce the principles the people fought for and the many martyred to.

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