Egypt's liberal Free Egyptians Party (FEP), founded by business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, announced on Sunday that 31 members of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP) have joined their party.
"I am proud to welcome those joining us from the ESDP. They were an influential current in the party," said FEP head Ahmed Saeed during a press conference at the party's headquarters in Cairo's upscale district of Zamalek.
For Saeed, the move is a sign that "liberalism is growing in Egypt" in spite of defamation campaigns, adding that liberals have proved to be a source of strong patriotic opposition.
He further stressed the need for more unification among parties in Egypt.
"The real role of a political party is to be present in parliament through creating legislation that preserves the interests of the Egyptian people," added Saeed, affirming that the upcoming parliamentary elections are crucial and will be a real test for democracy in Egypt.
The parliamentary elections have not yet been scheduled. However, they should be held within six months of the passing of the new constitution, which was ratified last January.
Emad Gad – a founding member of the ESDP who resigned last month – also spoke at the conference, saying that the vision and the stances of the two parties have always been harmonic, such as when they formed a coalition during the 2011 parliamentary elections called the Egyptian Bloc.
The secular-leaning Egyptian Bloc – which brought together the FEP, ESDP and the leftist Al-Tagammu Party – garnered 37 seats in the first parliamentary elections after the 25 January 2011 revolution.
"The Egyptian Bloc was a successful experience. It was our first time and we garnered 34 seats only months after our formation, when the Wafd Party [Egypt's oldest liberal party] got 37 seats," he added.
During Sunday's press conference, Gad explained that rifts inside the ESDP had begun days prior to the anti-Mohamed Morsi 30 June protests, saying that the party's members had been divided between those who thought the protest would see mass mobilisation and others who expected a low turnout of protesters.
Other ESDP leading members joining the liberal party include: the ESDP's secretary for parliamentary affairs Ayman Abou El-Ela, head of the advisory committee Mina Morcos and member of the party's supreme committee Sherif Hanna.
However, both Gad and Saeed said they expect a full merger between the two parties soon.
The FEP are one of the parties backing ex-defence minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in the presidential race scheduled for 26-27 May, which he will be contesting with leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi.
The ESDP, for their part, have abstained from supporting any of the two candidates after internal polls showed the membership split down the line between Sabahi and El-Sisi.
Both parties were founded months after the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.
ESDP's founding members include ex-prime minister Hazem El-Beblawi, his former deputy Ziad Bahaa El-Din and the party's current head Mohamed Abou El-Ghar.