In their scrambling to find a foothold in Egypt's coming parliament, polls for which are expected later this year, officials from an electoral alliance led by the Wafd Party and a loose grouping of revolutionary liberal and leftist forces led by 2014 presidential candidate and high-profile Nasserist politician Hamdeen Sabahi said they have almost agreed that their blocs should merge into a greater electoral coalition.
Anwar Al-Sadat, chairman of the liberal Reform and Development Party and a member of the Egyptian Wafd Alliance's presidential council, told Ahram Online that "If everything goes right, the formal announcement of a merger between the two secular political blocs will be just a matter of time."
"As you know, the 'Civil Democratic Current' led by Sabahi asked two weeks ago for a merger with the Wafd, with the objective of creating greater consensus among all secular political forces ahead of the polls, and in the hope of gaining a majority in the coming parliament," said Sadat, noting that "The Wafd could not give an answer before it consults with all members of its alliance."
Sadat indicated that "negotiations between the Wafd and Sabahi's Civil Democratic Current ended in a successful way on some points, but some other issues will still need more talks and negotiations."
According to Sadat, the two blocs agreed that remnants of the former regimes of Hosni Mubarak's defunct ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Muslim Brotherhood and its defunct Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) remain excluded from joining their secular electoral alliance. "The two blocs also agreed that their merger could go beyond electoral matters, meaning that their elected deputies in the coming House of Representatives would be governed by one political agenda and one parliamentary council," said Sadat.
Sadat indicated the two blocs have also agreed that a committee be formed to take charge of evaluating the performance of the merger. "This does not mean that each member of the greater alliance will not be able to act independently," explained Sadat, adding that "each alliance member will remain free, taking decisions on its own internal structures, ranks and activities, but under the dome of parliament, it must be committed to the political agenda governing the alliance." "In other words," added Sadat, "this will not be just an electoral alliance, but it will rather be a political and parliamentary alliance."
The Egyptian Wafd Alliance, formally announced 5 August, includes the Wafd Party led by businessman Al-Sayed Al-Badawi, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party led by political activist Mohamed Abu Al-Ghar, the Reform and Development Party led by Anwar Al-Sadat, the Conservative Party led by oil business tycoon Akmal Qortam, and the Awareness Party led by Ahly Sports Club chairman Mahmoud Taher.
Sabahi's loose "Civil Democratic Current" grouping includes six post-2011 revolution political forces: the Karama Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance, the Popular Current, the Constitution Party, the Egypt Freedom Party, and the Justice Party.
Other sources said negotiations between the Wafd and Sabahi's Democratic Current "were difficult but fruitful." Revolutionary political activist George Ishak and high-profile founder of the Constitution Party Ahmed Al-Boraie led the negotiations with the Wafd.
Ishak told Ahram Online that "our negotiations focused on the necessity of creating a united front among all secular political forces committed to the goals of 2011's January revolution and 2013's June revolution, and opposed to the return of the diehards of the two former regimes of Hosni Mubarak and Muslim Brotherhood." "Under this front, we could have high hopes that the coming parliament will be truly representative of Egypt's new democratic trends, rather than a gathering of the remnants of the former two regimes," said Ishak.
Ishak revealed that Sabahi and the Wafd's blocs have agreed that once all differences are settled, they would sign "a document of principles." "We have two documents, one drafted by Al-Ahram political analyst Amr Elchoubaki for the Egyptian Wafd Alliance, and another drafted by political analyst Samir Morcos for the Democratic Current, and we aim to unite the two documents into a single political manifesto of the two blocs," said Ishak. He added that Elchoubaki will take charge of drafting the unified document of principles for the two blocs. "Once completed, the two blocs will sign it in a joint meeting," said Ishak.
Ishak, however, said differences still exist, with some related to the quota of the Democratic Current on the party lists of the anticipated alliance's parliamentary candidates, and others concerned with whether it is necessary to give a new title to the anticipated alliance or keep "the Egyptian Wafd Alliance." "We do not have objections that the Egyptian Wafd Alliance be kept as the name of the umbrella grouping all our secular political parties together," said Ishak.
Egypt's new election law specifies that 120 seats (20 per cent) be allocated to party-based candidates, 420 seats (75 per cent) be reserved for independents, and 57 seats (five per cent) be presidential appointees.