5 Challenges Facing the Egyptians Who Sparked the Revolution
Egyptian protesters chant slogans against the country's military rulers in Cairo.
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Egypt’s liberals and moderates may have helped spark the revolution that brought down President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, but they have lost out in the new post-Mubarak political order. The first loss came during the parliamentary elections, when Islamists took 75% of the seats. The second loss came when the presidential run-off came down to a choice between two extremes: the old guard, represented by former Mubarak Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, and the Muslim Brotherhood, represented by the eventual winner, Mohammed Morsi.
But the liberals and moderate opposition are trying to not get left out of the game again, and they were busy this past week assembling, dismantling and reassembling a variety of new political parties, coalitions and associations in preparation for a new round of parliamentary elections, expected to be held in the coming months.
Starting last Wednesday, Mohammed El-Baradei launched his Al Dostour (Constitution) Party, to much fanfare and hype. The following Saturday, news reports circulated about a liberal electoral and political alliance dubbed the “Democratic Civil Current,” made up of more than 15 political parties.
The same day, former presidential candidate and moderate Islamist Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh announced that he was working on “a wide alliance” that would “bring together all the people who believe in the goals of the revolution.” He pledged his that his new alliance would be dedicated to “public and personal liberties” and “full equal citizen rights.”
On Sunday, Egyptian media reported talks were taking place to form a new coalition between Al-Dostour, an alliance of liberal parties, called the “The Third Current,” and the new leftist grassroots-oriented movement led by former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, called “The Popular Current.”
As if that was not enough, a day later, former Arab League secretary-general and former presidential candidate Amr Moussa announced the “Alliance Of The Egyptian Nation,” featuring possibly 10 parties and groups, including 2005 presidential candidate Ayman Nour’s “Ghad Al-Thawra” Party as well as the nearly century-old Al-Wafd party.
A couple of hours later that same day, news leaked that Al-Wafd was calling for an “emergency meeting” of its high board to discuss a possible withdrawal from the alliance, arguing that what was eventually announced by Moussa was different from what was agreed upon initially. Interestingly, among all of these reports of talks, coalitions and alliances, some parties appeared to be involved in virtually all of them.
All the while, many in Egypt greeted the introduction of Al-Dostour and the various alliances with excitement that the opposition was actually uniting, albeit with concern about the seemingly haphazard way in which it all seemed to be happening. One official with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party greeted the news more tepidly. In a tweet, FJP acting head and presidential adviser Essam El-Erian welcomed the Dostour Party onto the playing field, then went on to state that other Egyptian political parties will “come and go” but “only the FJP will remain for a true democratic life in Egypt.”
Despite the tone, El-Erian has a point. Business as usual for Egypt’s liberal and moderate opposition means that they would indeed just “come and go.” If they want to stick around, here are five key issues the opposition should address as they consider their strategy for running candidates in the next round of parliamentary elections:
1-Electoral Law: What the coming parliamentary elections will actually look like remains undetermined, nor when would they take place. With Egypt’s Constitutional Court controversially dissolving the previous parliament based on what it deemed to be the unconstitutionality of the electoral law, it is pretty much a given that a new law is set to be devised. Such new law is likely to take form after the adoption of the country’s new constitution, which could very well happen before the end of this year. But debate on the details of the law have begun trickling out.