Thursday,19 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1209, (14 - 20 August 2014)
Thursday,19 October, 2017
Issue 1209, (14 - 20 August 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Political jockeying

Parties are scrambling to fill the gap left by the collapse of Amr Moussa’s attempt to forge a coalition of secular political forces ahead of parliamentary elections, Gamal Essam El-Din reports

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eg31
Al-Ahram Weekly

The Wafd Party has announced it will lead its own alliance to contest parliamentary elections. This follows the failure of Amr Moussa’s efforts to create a coalition of secular forces.

“It is not just the failure of Moussa’s coalition that pushed Al-Wafd to form an alliance with other secular political forces,” said Wafd Party Chairman Al-Sayed Al-Badawi. “The Wafd is the oldest secular political force in Egypt and it is only right the party be the driving force behind any major alliance.”

At a meeting on 5 August it was agreed the new coalition would include the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, led by Mohamed Abul-Ghar, the Reform and Development party led by Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat, the Conservative Party led by businessman Akmal Qortam, and the Awareness Party led by Al-Ahli chairman Mahmoud Taher. That the alliance is to be called the Egyptian Wafd leaves little doubt about which party is in control.

“The Egyptian Wafd remains keen to coordinate with all other secular forces,” Al-Badawi told journalists. “We are seeking greater political consensus among secular parties and hope to gain a majority in the coming parliament.”

A council has been formed to supervise the alliance’s campaign. In addition to the heads of member parties, it includes Al-Ahram political analyst Amr Al-Shobaki and Mubarak-era official Mostafa Al-Fiqi. Al-Fiqi will also lead the committee drafting the alliance’s manifesto.

The alliance’s platform, said Al-Shobaki, will incorporate the principles of the 25 January and 30 June revolutions. A statement issued by the coalition following the 5 August meeting promised “a real democracy based on a multi-party system, respect of human rights and the peaceful rotation of power.”

Wafd Party Secretary-General Bahaa El-Din Abu Shoka announced Sunday that candidate lists of prospective MPs will be issued as soon as boundary changes are finalised and the new election district law is issued. Party members are expected to dominate the alliance’s lists.

Egyptian Wafd will face competition from the Egyptian Front, a coalition including the Congress Party, founded by Moussa, the Misr Baladi Party, led by former interior minister Ahmed Gamaleddin, and the National Movement, founded by Mubarak’s last prime minister and 2012 presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq.

Congress Party Deputy Chairman Salah Hasaballah said he was disappointed that Moussa’s attempts to form a wider bloc had failed.

“Moussa’s efforts were motivated by the desire to unite all secular political factions in the face of the threat constituted by political Islam,” he said. “Al-Wafd’s refusal to join a wider electoral coalition, on the grounds that it refused any coordination with former members of the Mubarak-era NDP, leaves secular forces once again divided.”

Hasaballah denied accusations that the Egyptian Front is a vehicle for the return of NDP politicians. “You have to look where this allegation is coming from,” he said. “The Wafd Party says it refuses any coordination with figures from the Mubarak years yet its own alliance includes NDP remnants such businessman Akmal Qortam and Mubarak’s former secretary for media affairs Mostafa Al-Fiqi.”

The Free Egyptian Party has opted to contest the polls alone. Party founder Naguib Sawiris said political alliances are unlikely to serve the party’s interests.

Many of the parties that appeared in the wake of the 25 January and 30 June revolutions are still exploring the possibility of coordination. Hamdeen Sabahi, 2014 presidential candidate and founder of the Popular Current, said it was disturbing that the two blocs that have emerged ahead of parliamentary elections are basically alliances of Mubarak-era figures.

Leftist and Nasserist forces are scrambling to form their own alliances. Last week Abdel-Hakim Abdel-Nasser, the younger son of late president Gamal Abdel-Nasser, launched the 25–30 Coalition. Sameh Ashour, chairman of the Syndicate of Lawyers, has announced his intention to form a similar grouping of nationalist parties.

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