February 2, 2012 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 792

People's Assembly Elections in Egypt Yield Victory for Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis; Downfall for Liberals, Left, and Revolutionary Youth

February 2, 2012 | By L. Lavi*
Egypt | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 792


Egypt's recent elections for the People's Assembly, the first free elections held in the country since the January 25, 2011 revolution, yielded a clear victory for the Islamists – the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and Salafi parties – whereas the secular-liberals and the left, and the fledgling parties of the country's youth, women, and Copts, suffered a crushing defeat.[1]

The Democratic Alliance for Egypt, headed by the MB's Freedom and Justice party, won 235 of the total 498 seats in the People's Assembly (47.2%); the Islamic Alliance, a coalition of Salafi parties headed by the Al-Nour party, won 123 seats (24.7%); the Al-Wafd party won 38 seats (7.6%); the Egyptian Bloc coalition won 34 seats (6.8%); the Revolution Continues coalition and the Al-Wasat party won 10 seats (2%) each; and the parties established by former National Democratic Party (NDP) members won about 5% of the seats jointly.[2] Twenty-one parties in the running failed to reach the minimum threshold.

The new People's Assembly includes 10 women (2%), two of whom were appointed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) as part of its right to nominate 10 of the Assembly members (2%). As for Coptic candidates, six were elected to the People's Assembly and another five were appointed by the SCAF.[3]

Tally Sheet for "Revolutionary Parliament" Elections[4]

It should be noted that the legitimacy of the elections is under heavy suspicion, due to allegations of massive electoral fraud involving millions of votes, which are currently being reviewed by the Egyptian court. These claims are not about sporadic cases of fraud in various localities, though complaints of this sort are being investigated as well. The allegations of massive fraud were filed by eight candidates from different precincts, who demanded to annul the elections on the grounds that the number of votes cast was higher than the number of eligible voters as published by Egypt's Supreme Elections Committee and by the Central Bureau of Statistics. According to the appellants, there is a discrepancy of 2-12 million votes. The fraud was perpetrated, they said, by repeating the names of thousands of eligible voters in the electronic database, thus allowing the same people to vote at different polling stations up to 32 times.[5] The Egyptian court has not yet ruled on the allegations, which will be discussed in a separate MEMRI report.

The following report will examine the causes underlying the election results:

The MB – A Success Story

The sweeping victory of the MB's Freedom and Justice party comes as no surprise. The MB is a veteran social movement which for years has provided community services to Egypt's poor and middle class. It successfully filled gaps in public needs which the Mubarak regime failed to address satisfactorily, gradually taking over the country's civil society. The MB's involvement in politics began unofficially as early as the 1970s, and it enjoys a firm hold on a large number of the country's trade unions.

In fact, as part of his campaign against Egypt's extreme jihadi elements, Mubarak occasionally permitted MB activity and the dissemination of its more moderate ideology, despite its status as an illegal movement. At the same time, he prevented the growth of any true opposition within parliament, thereby allowing the MB to become the best-organized and strongest extra-parliamentary opposition force in the country. Egyptian publicist 'Abd Al-Mun'im Mounib wrote that by the time Mubarak understood the ramifications of the situation he had enabled, "the MB's organizational and political strength, and its abstention from violence, denied the regime the possibility of employing the same violence against [the MB] that it used against the jihadis... The Mubarak regime understood that it was no longer possible to eradicate the MB from the political map in Egypt, though it did occasionally pressure this movement with arrests and trials. The MB thus continued to develop its organizational, da'wa, and political abilities, while scrupulously avoiding any decisive conflict with the regime..."[6]

The MB's Freedom and Justice party is regarded positively by many Egyptians today, as representing a nonviolent, relatively moderate, and centrist stream compared to the ultra-conservative Salafis.[7] Its ability to convey an image combining religious authenticity with modern progress, and to use Islamic sources to justify Western norms such as democracy, human rights, and minority rights, has won it widespread support. In an era of aversion to anything reminiscent of the toppled Mubarak regime, the MB is seen as this regime's antithesis and its uncompromising opponent. This gives it an advantage over traditional oppositionist forces, which have a long-standing reputation of being oppositionist in name only.

The MB's success can be attributed especially to its adaptability, pragmatism, and opportunism over the years, and in particular since the January 2011 revolution. Its messages to the public, which are propagated efficiently through the various media outlets and on the internet, are catchy and unifying, but at the same time they are vague, giving no clear indication of how the country would look under MB rule. The messages are also variable, changing to suit circumstances and interests. For instance, the MB party has struck from its platform clauses that met with public criticism when they were first published in 2007, such as clauses barring women and Copts from serving as president, a clause on establishing a clerical body dealing with legislation, and a clause on obligating tourists to adhere to Islamic custom.[8]

Moreover, the MB leadership's tactic of assuring the public on the eve of the elections, e.g., by declaring that the movement had no desire to monopolize the government or the parliament, or to field a presidential candidate, but rather wished to advance a coalition government representing all of society's factions, gained the Freedom and Justice party further credence. The MB reinforced this impression by running for parliament as part of a coalition with other parties from all ends of the political spectrum, including the left and liberal streams.[9]

The MB's robust organizational and propaganda mechanisms in Egypt's rural towns and governorates allowed its party to field candidates in most of the country's election zones. In addition, the MB enjoys diverse sources of funding, including monthly membership fees and large donations from businessmen and other wealthy supporters. Some claim that the movement also receives funding from other Arab countries, chiefly Qatar,[10] though Qatar and the MB leadership have denied this.

Though the elections were considered fair compared to those held in previous years, human rights organizations that oversaw them filed hundreds of complaints with Egypt's courts over the MB's alleged employment of religious propaganda and slogans, provision of transportation services to voters, payment of election bribes, and the lack of legal oversight at some of the polling stations. It was also claimed that veiled women had been allowed to vote without being required to identify themselves. The MB responded by leveling similar accusations at its political rivals, especially at the Egyptian Bloc coalition and the Salafis.[11]

The MB's intensive religious activity must not be overlooked as a factor in its popularity. In an article published on the MB website, titled "Why Did the Islamists Succeed and the Liberals Lose?" the author, Tamer Bakr, quoted one of the movement's supporters on Facebook: "The strength of the MB lies in the fact that it is striving for a goal, and that goal is to satisfy Allah and [attain] Paradise. That is why you see them investing and working as much as they can, day and night... I think they will achieve a shining success, because he whose goal is [to please] Allah will surely be granted assistance and success by [Allah]..."[12]

Egypt's "New Look"[13]

The Salafis – A Dark Horse Victory

The victory of the Salafi parties, which won over 20% of the seats in the People's Assembly after participating in the elections for the very first time, came as a surpise to many, including the Salafis themselves. This is especially true considering that the Salafis did not take part in the mass demonstrations that led to the ouster of Mubarak, but were in favor of remaining obedient to him. The secret of their success may lie precisely in the fact that they are new to Egyptian politics, leading many to give a them a chance as a stream yet untainted with failure or corruption. As part of the complex system of checks and balances Mubarak maintained vis-à-vis the MB and their rivals, the Salafis and jihadis, he granted the Salafis operational freedom in the domains of da'wa and public services in rural towns, in exchange for their obedience – particularly when he felt the MB was gaining too much strength.

The Salafi movements have always focused most of their efforts on activitiy in mosques, hence their success in enlisting grassroots support, thanks to which they were able to quickly become a real political force after the revolution. This success, like that of the MB, is ultimately a result of the Salafis' ties to the Egyptian street, and their response to the needs of the Egyptian population in the domains of religion, welfare, education, and health, and provision of services to the poor, elderly, and orphans (their activity in these domain began in the 1920s and has intensified since the 1970s). Following the revolution, the Salafi parties had the sense to unite into a single coalition, which facilitated their impressive entry into the political arena.

Some attribute the success of the MB and the Salafis to the diminished status of Al-Azhar, due to its longstanding dependency on the Egyptian regime.[14] Though Al-Azhar has played an important role since the revolution by serving as common ground for the country's rival political groups, it has nevertheless suffered from competition with the charismatic preachers of the Salafi stream. The latter enjoy widespread popularity, appearing on a number of Salafi satellite TV channels, such as Al-Nas, Al-Rahma and Al-Hikma, which were licensed by the Mubarak regime in 2006 and have widely propagated Salafi da'wa. Understanding the danger posed by these channels, Mubarak shut them down shortly before his ouster, but following the revolution, they soon came back on the air. It should be noted that the Mubarak regime never allowed the MB to operate a TV channel.[15]

In any case, there is no doubt that the Salafis' success is due in part to the religious propaganda they employ. Their preachers have claimed that the Salafi victory was foretold in the Koran, and some have accused their political opponents of apostasy.[16] Likewise, a number of fatwas were released obligating the believers to vote for the Salafi parties and forbidding them to vote for secular, liberal, or Coptic candidates,[17] based on the religious duty to support the establishment of a religious state and the implementation of the shari'a.[18] As mentioned, human rights organizations that oversaw the elections filed hundreds of complaints with Egypt's courts over the illegal use of religious propganda and slogans at and around the polling stations, especially by members of the MB and Al-Nour parties.[19]

Lebanese cartoon shows "Egyptian parliament" composed solely of bearded Islamists[20]

Complaints were also filed over election bribes in the form of money, gifts, food, and cellular phones, allegedly paid to obtain votes for the Al-Nour party. Other complaints charged that Al-Nour members removed their adversaries' voting slips from some of the voting booths.[21] In addition, the Salafis, like the MB, have been accused of receiving funding from foreign countries, especially from the Gulf – a charge they have denied.

The Defeat of the Liberals and Left

Salah 'Issa, editor of the weekly Al-Kahira, explained that the liberals had only had a small chance in the parliamentary elections to begin with, due to their inability to compete with the religious and sectarian propaganda of their Islamist rivals: "The main reason for the liberals' failure is that these elections are not even political, but rather religious and sectarian. The liberal parties, though politically capable, are unable to play this sectarian or religious game. The people gave their voice to the [Muslim] Brotherhood and the Salafis based on their religious affiliation, and did not give heed to the [full range of] existing political blocs..."[22]

In general, the liberal, left, and Coptic streams suffer from a negative public image. They are seen as aloof, elitist, and Westernized, seen more on TV than among the public in the streets. Their discourse is largely above the layman and cannot compete with the magnetism of the religious discourse. Dr. Osama Ghazali Harb, founder of the liberal Democratic Front party – which did not reach the minimum threshold in the elections – explained that Egypt's high rate of poverty and ignorance made it difficult for non-religious slogans to take root in the hearts of voters.[23]

The liberals vs. the Islamists in Egypt[24]

Moreover, the veteran parties in the country, such as Al-Wafd and Tagammu', are seen as tainted with the corruption that characterized the Mubarak regime, and as oppositionist only in name. The fact that some of their candidate lists included former members of the Mubarak regime did not help to alter this conception. Ultimately, these parties, which also suffered internal disputes, failed to renew themselves in the spirit of the revolution and to capture the hearts of the Egyptian people.[25]

The weakness of Egypt's left-wing parties seems to reflect a global trend that has persisted since the fall of the Soviet Union. The decline of socialist ideologies and the concurrent rise of neo-liberal capitalism has increased economic polarity and strengthened religious elements in society, which took the place of the socialists as a refuge for Egypt's extensive low-income populations. Dr. Muhammad Al-Sa'id Dawir, of the left-wing party Tagammu', explained that the ongoing decline of the Egyptian left was due to "the collapse of the world socialist bloc and the increase of socio-cultural pressure exerted by the forces of political Islam upon the ummah's consciousness. Added to this pressure was the craving for economic openness, which is organic to world imperialism, and the poor internal administration of the socialist and progressive organizations and parties in Egypt. All these harmed the Egyptian left and undermined it ideologically, organizationally, and in terms of its popularity..."

According to Dawir, another reason for the left's weakness is that it merely "reacted to the ideas and plans raised by pan-Arabism, whose political forces controlled some of the Arab countries... The Egyptian left failed to propose or propagate a real plan for building [the country]. Although the socialists were willing to sacrifice and fight for their ideas, they lacked the necessary abilities... to take up public action or offer services based on the socialist approach. They are an aloof cadre that looks at the world from behind the pages of a book, and forms personal ties chiefly with members of its own school. We created for ourselves a world detached from the [real] world. Many of us settled for the power of the idea and for general programs. We severed the very hands that should have been outstretched to the masses..."[26]

Wahid 'Abd Al-Magid, columnist for the government daily Al-Ahram and coordinator for the Democratic Alliance for Egypt coalition headed by the MB, claimed that the main reason for the decline of Egypt's left was its decision to join the liberals in the debate over the identity of Egypt, while abandoning its central message of promoting social justice. He said that the left had erred in choosing to fight for Egypt's identity under the slogan of preserving the civil state, which most Egyptians interpreted as loyalty to the Mubarak regime.[27]

Another factor behind the defeat of the secular streams was their failure to form a unified front as a strong and viable alternative to the Islamist parties, even after the results of the first round of elections indicated a clear victory for the latter. The Egyptian Bloc coalition did see some success as an umbrella organization uniting the veteran left-wing party Tagammu', the Egyptian Social Democratic party, and the Free Egyptians party, which is chiefly identified with the country's Coptic minority. However, this coalition suffered after one group split off from it to form the Revolution Continues coalition, and because other non-Islamist parties failed to join it. In addition, the Bloc's affiliation with the Coptic minority facilitated its portrayal as Christian-oriented by its Islamist opponents.

The Defeat of the Revolutionary Youth

The greatest disappointment of the first post-revolution elections was that the youth parties failed to harness the momentum of protest to become an influential political force. This failure resulted from their political inexperience, in contrast to the well-oiled organizational machine of the MB, and in particular from technical reasons, including: insufficient time to organize and gain popularity on the Egyptian street; inability to fund an effective political campaign; and Egypt's multitude of voting districts, which made it difficult for the youth's propaganda to reach all areas of the country. In essence, it seems the youth parties wasted much of their energy and resources on efforts to postpone the elections until after the redrafting of the constitution, instead of focusing on preparing for the elections.

From the January 25 Youth blog[28]

Moreover, the revolutionary youth did not rally around a united charismatic leadership, nor did they succeed in coalescing into a single representative body. The mutliplicity of political groups purporting to represent the voice of Al-Tahrir Square led to a diffusion and division of power, and gave rise to sham groups that ultimately undermined those with real potential. For the most part, Egypt's larger parties did not endorse the youth protest movements, and when they did, the youth candidates were placed last on the party lists. The youth parties themselves pinned their failure on the mentality of the Egyptian voters, who they said still voted according to family ties and narrow interests, and on the official media, which they said had waged a propaganda campaign against the protestors, portraying them as the cause behind the country's economic crisis.

Ideologically, the youth parties' campaigns drew mainly on revolutionary slogans, without presenting an actual program for development and progress in either domestic or foreign policy.[29] Throughout the elections, the youth kept up their protest in Al-Tahrir Square against the SCAF, but failed to get the latter to hand over the government to civilian hands or to effect substantial changes in accordance with their demands.

'Ali Al-Sayyed, columnist for the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm, wrote: "The revolution happened, but the revolutionaries lost. Those who gained are the streams and groups for whom the revolution was an impossible or forbidden notion. The youth lost because the media placed on them a burden they could not bear and put them in situations unsuitable to them. 'The big boys' left them [to protest] in the square so they themselves would be free to rake in the political spoils. [The youth] lost because the political elders led them astray..."[30]

Deal between military and Islamists comes at the expense of the revolutionary youth[31]

Disappointing Results for Women Candidates

According to data published by the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights, 984 women applied for candidacy in the elections, the greatest number in Egypt's history. However, women attained only 10 seats in the People's Assembly (2% of the house). This result occurred despite the major role played by women in the demonstrations that led to Mubarak's ouster, and despite the high turnout among women voters. Explaining the reasons for the disappointing results, the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights stated that many women had withdrawn their candidacy at the last moment in protest over the takeover of party lists by former NDP members, and also out of fear of the Islamists, and because some parties had demanded they pay to be included on their lists.[32]

It should be noted that in the era of president Anwar Sadat, 30 seats in parliament were reserved for women. A constitutional amendment passed in 2009, under Mubarak, raised this number to 64 seats, but this clause was not in effect during the recent elections due to the suspension of the constitution. During these elections, the law required each party to include only one woman on its list, and these candidates were usually placed last.

The members of the Al-Nour Party list (the woman candidate, on the bottom left, is represented by an empty frame)[33]

Columnist Sa'id Abu Sha'ban wrote in the daily Al-Ahram: "[The results] are a blow to Egyptian women, a setback after a struggle that started nearly nine decades ago, in 1925... The parties and other political forces still place women behind the scenes... This situation does not result from the rise of conservative [political] streams, but from the character of [Egyptian] society, and the conservative approach that prevails in most sectors and regions, which are still controlled by tribal and family frameworks that are essentially patriarchical..."[34]

Appendix: The Larger Parties Elected to the People's Assembly

Following is a list of the main parties that won seats in the People's Assembly in the recent elections:

1. The Democratic Alliance for Egypt

The Democratic Alliance for Egypt is a coaltion of parties, chief of which is the Freedom and Justice party, the political wing of the MB. The coalition began with more than 30 parties, headed by the MB and the veteran Al-Wafd party, in an attempt to form a wide front of political streams. In the months following the revolution, it was joined by the Salafi parties, but these as well as Al-Wafd dropped out of the coalition in response to the preferential treatment it showed the MB. Apart for the Freeom and Justice Party, the coalition was left with 10 parties, most of them new. The most well-known of these is the Ghad Al-Thawra party, headed by Ayman Nour; the Nasserite Al-Karama party, headed by former People's Assembly member Hamdin Subahi; and the Al-'Amal Al-Masri party, a veteran Islamist-oriented socialist party headed by Magdi Ahmad Hussein.

2. Islamic Alliance

The Islamic Alliance is a coalition which fielded almost 700 candidates for the People's Assembly, running for approximately 90% of the total seats. It includes the following Salafi parties:

a. The dominant party in the coalition is Al-Nour, headed by 'Imad 'Abd Al-Ghaffour. It was established by the Salafi Da'wa (Al-Da'wa Al-Salafiyya), one of the popular Salafi movements in Egypt today that was founded in Alexandria in the 1970s under the influence of Saudi Salafi circles and which clashed with the Mubarak regime.

Al-Nour considers the second clause of the Egyptian constitution, which defines Islam as the state religion and the principles of the Islamic shari'a as the primary source of legislation, as the regime's supreme source of authority and an overarching framework encompassing all domains – political, legislative, social, and economic. At the same time, it promises Copts freedom of religion and the freedom to be tried in accordance with their faith in matters of personal status.

The party's platform calls for reforms in education and the removal from school curricula of anything that contravenes Islam. It also calls to free Al-Azhar from dependency on the regime and to turn it into a kingpin in fostering the public awareness of the ummah. Its plan for reviving the Egyptian economy proposes that the interest-based economy be replaced by an Islamic system of collective participation in profits and production, and the establishment of an economic union among Arab and Islamic countries.[35]

b. The Al-Asala party was established by Dr. 'Adl 'Abd Al-Maqsoud 'Afifi, who previously founded the Salafi Al-Fadila Party, and was joined by the Al-Nahda party, founded by Mamdouh Isma'il. Al-Asala defines itself as a political party with an Islamic source of authority, which strives for justice and equality in line with the principles of Islamic shari'a. It aspires to promote shari'a values, traditions, and customs, but rejects theocratic rule in the sense of clerics ruling by divine right. In its view, the second clause of the Egyptian constitution should define the dictates, rather than the principles, of the shari'a as the primary source of legislation. The party supports the right of non-Muslims to be judged according to their own beliefs on matters of personal status.

Al-Asala holds that the first step to be taken is to reform the people's hearts and minds, followed by a reform in the domains of science and education. Only then will it be time for political reforms leading to freedom from tyranny, implementation of the principle of shura (consultation), and peaceful transfer of power. The party's platform commits to promoting freedom of opinion and respecting human rights, and supports parliamentary rule with prime ministerial and presidential elections, and the restriction of the president's authorities. It also supports the people's right to formulate laws via an elected parliament, and to change laws and the constitution if necessary, as long as there is no violation of the shari'a.

As for foreign policy, Al-Asala supports peaceful relations with other countries on the basis of mutual respect, rather than on the basis of unequal relations between a stronger party and a weaker one, and opposes signing international agreements affecting Egypt's security or financial resources without the people's consent – meaning the approval of parliament. It also demands a reassessment of many of the international economic and political agreements that discriminate against the Egyptian people. (This phrasing is commonly used to refer to the peace agreement with Israel). The platform expresses support of the Palestinian people's right to a free country, with Jerusalem as its capital, and calls for the cancellation of the superpowers' veto rights in the UN.[36]

c. The Al-Binaa Wal-Tanmiyya party, the political wing of Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya, was founded by Tareq Al-Zumar, who was released from prison at the end of the Mubarak era, after serving a long sentence for his involvement in the assassination of Anwar Sadat. The party was initially banned by the Party Commission on the grounds that its platform is based on a religious foundation, which is illegal in Egypt. The supreme administrative court accepted Al-Zumar's appeal and approved the founding of the party after sections dealing with the codification of shari'a punishments were stricken from its platform.[37]

3. The Al-Wafd Party

The veteran Al-Wafd party stresses in its platform that it supports the demands of the revolution, such as cancelling the emergency law. It supports democracy based on a pluralism of parties and ideologies; respect for human rights and general freedoms; and a transition of power by free and fair elections under full legal supervision. It champions democracy grounded in the rule of law, an independent justice system, and free press and media. Furthermore, Al-Wafd believes in social justice based on fair distribution of income and minimizng societal gaps, while guaranteeing minimum wage for every citizen.

In its platform, it defines Islam as the religion of the state, and the principles of Islamic shari'a as the primary source of legislation, while supporting the right of members of other monotheistic faiths to be judged accoding to their own beliefs in matters of personal status and in internal religious affairs. Al-Wafd objects to secularism in the sense of separating religion and state, and to theocracy in the sense of a rule of clerics.

Al-Wafd wishes to restore Egypt's leading regional role in the Arab, Islamic, and African circles, and to base regional and international relations on friendship, cooperation, and mutuality, without harming Egypt's priorities and its affiliation with the Arab world. It views the Palestinian problem as one of the mainstays of Egyptian foreign policy, and advocates restoring relations with Russia and China, while reassessing relations with the US, in order to distance Egypt from dependence on foreign hegemony.[38]

4. The Egyptian Bloc Coalition

This coalition, which ran 412 candidates for the People's Assembly, was established by the left-wing Tagammu' party after it withdrew from the MB-led Democratic Alliance for Egypt, following the acceptance of the Salafi parties into the latter coalition. It champions defense of a civil, non-religious state in Egypt, and is idenitified with the Copts. (In fact, there were rumors that the Church had called on Christians to vote for it).

The coalition includes three parties:

a. The Social Democratic Egyptian party – a new liberal party with a socialist bent, which supports full adoption of democracy in politics, economics, and society, and redistribution of wealth for the benefit of workers, as part of a market economy.

a. The veteran left-wing Tagammu' party, which was established in 1976. The party supports state defense of citizens against economic exploitation; inter-Arab solidarity; independence from Western imperialism; and democracy as a guarantee of stability and a peaceful transfer of power. It has approximately 22,000 members and is headed by Rif'at Sa'id.

b. The Free Egyptians party – a new party founded by Coptic millionaire Naguib Sawiris, who is currently standing trial in Egypt for harming Islam after posting on the Internet pictures that were considered harmful to Muslims[39] and calling to cancel the second clause of the constitution. Sawiris' party defines itself as a civil party that champions the separation of religion from the state but not from the citizen's life. The party sees religion as part of Egypt's identity and supports respecting religious practices and Egyptian traditions and values, while preserving the rule of law, freedom of religion, and full equality among citizens, regardless of religion, gender, wealth, origin, ethnicity, or culture.[40]

5. The Al-Wasat Party

Al-Wasat was first established in early 1996, but was not officially approved by the Party Commission. In 1998, its founders established the Al-Wasat Al-Masri party with a different platform that defined it as a civil party with an Islamic source of authority, independent from the Muslim Brotherhood; however, the commission again refused to approve the party, and also refused two subsequent requests in 2004 and 2009. According to its most recent platform from 2009, Al-Wasat sees wasatiyya (the middle path) as a national cultural worldview, according to which Egypt's revival will be achieved through justice, freedom, and national self-building and self-confidence, while drawing on the Egyptian-spirited values of Arab and Islamic culture, whose characteristics will be anchored in the constitution.

According to Al-Wasat, political and constitutional reform is one of the methods for revival and a necessary condition for fulfilling the public interest and preventing foreign intervention. It supports protecting the citizen's dignity, rights, and freedoms, including freedom of press, opinion, and information, and views the people as the source of rule. It supports a separation and balance of powers, and the citizen's right to make laws according to his interests. It advocates full gender equality in public employment and in law; the freedom to establish political parties, unions, and civil organizations; and the right to peacefully protest and strike. According to Al-Wasat, citizenship is the common bond of all Egyptians, and it rejects discrimination based on religion, color, origin, or wealth, including in the right to run for president. Al-Wasat advocates respecting human rights according to tenets of the monotheistic religions and to the international treaties; freedom of religion, and full freedom of worship.

Al-Wasat supports the demands of the revolution to cancel the emergency law, to cease political arrests, and to grant freedom of action to professional and student unions. It also advocates an independent legal system, reducing the president's authority according to the constitution, and limiting his time in office to two four-year terms. It seeks economic revival by investing in the Egyptian human capital, while supporting economic freedom, but not free market economy. Al-Wasat also emphasizes education reform.

Al-Wasat views the Palestinian problem as a central issue for Egyptian national security and supports the Palestinian people's right to self-determination, the refugees' right of return, and the right to resist the occupation by every legitimate manner, including armed force. It sees the development of Sinai as another central issue for national security.[41]

6. The Revolution Continues Coalition

The Revolution Continues coalition broke away from the Egyptian Bloc coalition and lies further left in the liberal camp. It champions safeguarding the achievements of the revolution and fulfilling its goals – security, freedom, and social justice. It is made up of the Revolutionary Youth coalition and five parties: the Egyptian Stream, an Islamic youth party that broke away from the MB; the Center, Equality, and Development party; the Free Egypt party; the Popular Socialist coalition; and the Egyptian Socialist party. The coalition strives to establish a democratic state based on equal rights and banning discrimination, and on respecting civil and political rights and freedoms, especially freedom of expression, assembly, and protest. The coalition calls to promote free education and healthcare, and budgetary preference to combat poverty, while stressing Egypt's Arab identity and restoring its leading regional role.[42]

7. Parties Formed by Former NDP Members

Approximately 10 new parties were established on the ruins of the NDP, the ruling party during the Mubarak era, which was dismantled during the revolution. In addition, some former NDP members ran as independents. These parties and individuals did not form a coalition but ran separately; in fact, some of them even spread blacklists calling to avoid voting for their political rivals from the NDP. Jointly, they won fewer than 20 delegates in the People's Assembly. The parties include:

a. The Reform and Development Party

Established by Anwar 'Ismat Sadat in 2009, it was not approved by the Party Commission until after Mubarak was ousted. It ran over 200 candidates for the People's Assembly. It supports a civil state; citizen participation in political life; fighting corruption through legisative reform; transfer of power via fair elections; determining standards of national responsibility; ensuring a life of honor for all through economic reform; and encouraging a free market economy and small-business intitiaitves. The party supports continued relations with Israel and the U.S. on the basis of equality.[43]

b. The National Egypt Party

Founded shortly after the revolution by former NDP member Tal'at Sadat, who briefly served as speaker of the parliament before it was disbanded by the SCAF. Sadat died before the elections were held.[44]

c. The Freedom Party

Established in July 2011, and led by brothers Mamdouh and Mu'ataz Hassan, whose father was once a committee head in the People's Assembly. The party has some 15,000 members, especially from Upper Egypt – Qena and Luxor – and ran over 500 candidates for the People's Assembly.

d. The Egyptian Citizen Party

Established in July 2011 and led by contractor 'Ala Hasballah, this party has some 15,000 members, including several former NPD members and ministers. It fielded over 450 candidates for the People's Assembly.[45]

e. The Union Party

Founded after the revolution by Houssam Badrawi, who served as secretary-general of the NDP during its final days and resigned one day prior to Mubarak. The party supports fighting corruption and unemployment, and strives for democracy, justice, equality, welfare, and national revival, as well as developing the Sinai and youth projects. The party ran approximately 500 candidates for the people's council.[46]

f. The Conservative Party

Established by Akmal Kortam, head of Sahara Petroleum Services Company (SAPESCO), who ran for parliament in 2010 under the NDP.[47]

8. The Al-'Adl Party

A civil liberal party that ran 167 candidates for the People's Assembly, it defines itself as a centrist alternative to the MB and as a representative of all groups in society. It supports establishing a modern, civil, and free state. It was founded by Mustafa Al-Naggar, a member of the Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution, who was once a member of the National Foundation for Change, established by Mohammad ElBaradei, and a former member of the MB. Al-'Adl ran independently in the elections, after breaking away from the Democratic Alliance for Egypt, which is headed by the MB.

Al-'Adl supports adhering to Egypt's international treaties, but rejects normalization with Israel until the Palestinian territories are restored and hostilities against them cease. It also supports the Palestinians' right to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. Political commentator 'Amr Al-Shubaki is a member of this party.

9. The Democratic Peace Party

10. This party, which is a union of several groups, was established in 2005 and is headed by Ahmad Al-Fadali. It promotes striking those clauses from the peace agreement with Israel that deal with Egyptian sovereignty and peacekeeping in Sinai; strenghtening Egypt's ties with Lebanon and Syria, and renewing Egypt's nuclear program for peaceful purposes. The party ran 27 lists for the People's Assembly.[48]

11. The Arab Egyptian Union Party

Established in April 2011 and headed by 'Amr Al-Mukhtar Samida, this party defines itself as a civil democratic party that advocates reviving Egypt's Arab character and restoring the country to a leading role in the Arab world by establishing an Arab economic bloc and developing the Arab League.[49]

*L. Lavi is a research associate at MEMRI.


[1] On the makeup of the People's Assembly following the last elections under the Mubarak regime, held in 2010, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No.653, "Results of Elections to Egyptian People's Assembly - Ruling Party: 420 Seats, Muslim Brotherhood: 0," December 28, 2010, Results of Elections to Egyptian People's Assembly - Ruling Party: 420 Seats, Muslim Brotherhood: 0.

[2] See appendix for details on the main parties that won seats in the Assembly.

[3] Al-Tahrir (Egypt), January 24, 2012.

[4] Al-Ahram (Egypt), January 22, 2012.

[5] Al-Tahrir (Egypt), January 10, 2012; Al-Badil (Egypt), January 10, 2012;, January 8, 2012.

[6] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), January 8, 2012.

[7] For example, in the debate between the liberal streams, which favor the establishment of a civil state in Egypt and oppose implementation of shari'a law, and the Salafi streams, which stand for the opposite, the MB put forward an alternative formula for "a civil state with Islamic sources of authority" – a more moderate interpretation of shari'a implementation than that advocated by the Salafis.

[8] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No.409, "Public Debate on the Political Platform of the Planned Muslim Brotherhood Party in Egypt," December 11, 2007,; Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No.753, "Egypt's Islamic Camp, Once Suppressed by Regime, Now Taking Part in Shaping New Egypt – Part II: Muslim Brotherhood Prepares for Parliamentary, Presidential Elections," October 25, 2011, Egypt's Islamic Camp, Once Suppressed by Regime, Now Taking Part in Shaping New Egypt – Part II: Muslim Brotherhood Prepares for Parliamentary, Presidential Elections.

[9] On the MB's preparations for the lead-up to the elections, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No.753, "Egypt's Islamic Camp, Once Suppressed by Regime, Now Taking Part in Shaping New Egypt – Part II: Muslim Brotherhood Prepares for Parliamentary, Presidential Elections," October 25, 2011, Egypt's Islamic Camp, Once Suppressed by Regime, Now Taking Part in Shaping New Egypt – Part II: Muslim Brotherhood Prepares for Parliamentary, Presidential Elections.

[10] Roz Al-Yousef (Egypt), December 17, 2011.

[11] Roz Al-Yousef (Egypt), December 17, 2011.

[12], December 17, 2011.

[13] Roz Al-Yousef (Egypt), December 4, 2011.

[14] Al-Hayat (London), January 12, 2012.

[15] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 3412, "Reactions to Closure of Satellite TV Channels," December 1, 2010, Reactions to Closure of Satellite TV Channels.

[16], December 10, 2011.

[17] Al-Shurouq (Egypt), December 22, 2011.

[18] Al-Gumhouriyya (Egypt), June 24, 2011.

[19] Roz Al-Yousef (Egypt), December 17, 2011.

[20] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), January 24, 2012.

[21] Roz Al-Yousef (Egypt), December 17, 2011.

[22] Roz Al-Yousef (Egypt), December 3, 2011.

[23] Al-Ahram (Egypt), December 27, 2011.

[25] Al-Dustour (Egypt), December 24, 2011.

[26] Al-Ahali (Egypt), December 21, 2011.

[27] Al-Ahram (Egypt), December 26, 2011.

[29] Al-Ahram (Egypt), December 25, 2011.

[30] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), January 8, 2012.

[31] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), December 29, 2011.

[32] Al-Ahram (Egypt), January 18, 2012.

[34] Al-Ahram (Egypt), January 18, 2012.

[35] On the Al-Nour party, its entry into politics, and its ideology regarding democracy and women's and Copts' rights, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No.767, "Egypt's Islamic Camp, Once Suppressed By Regime, Now Taking Part in Shaping New Egypt – Part IV: For First Time in Egypt, Salafis Running in Elections," December 2, 2011, Egypt's Islamic Camp, Once Suppressed By Regime, Now Taking Part in Shaping New Egypt – Part IV: For First Time in Egypt, Salafis Running in Elections.

[39] On this incident, see MEMRI-TV Clip No. 3050, "Egyptian Cleric Safwat Higazi Lambastes Coptic Communications Tycoon Naguib Sawiris for Posting Image of Bearded Mickey Mouse and Hijab-Clad Minnie Mouse on Twitter," July 4, 2011,

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