Egypt’s first post-Mubarak parliamentary elections kicked off in the wake of one of the bloodiest clampdowns by security and military forces against protesters. Over 40 protesters died as a result while thousands were seriously injured.
The Revolution Continues electoral alliance, which includes six disparate political parties as well as the Revolution Youth Coalition, was too entrenched in these events and suspended its campaign.
Despite this, the alliance managed to win seven seats in the first round of the People’s Assembly (parliament’s lower house) elections.
As the second round approaches, volunteers have joined together, ensuring that the Revolution Continues’ name was more visible on the street.
Mohamed Sanad, a member of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP) and organiser of the Giza district’s (Agouza-Dokki) campaign, believes that the second round will offer the alliance more chances to win parliamentary seats.
“The majority of people in this district voted ‘No’ in the constitutional referendum, and though that does not necessarily indicate that they are pro-revolution, it is somewhat indicative of where we stand in this area,” Sanad said.
He also added that there is a misconception that the middle class and upper middle class are against the revolution. “People were very responsive on the streets,” he stated, adding that some people have wondered where “the revolutionary youth have been.”
“We provide the alternative for people, who don’t want the Islamist or liberal options,” the SPAP member stated.
As for expectations, Sanad expects a 15-25 per cent outcome. “We have more than 150 volunteers this round and we are learning to be more organised,” Sanad said, explaining that with other parties registered members comprise the majority of the campaign team, while in their case a large number of non-members showed enthusiasm and have begun to help out.
On top of the North Giza district’s electoral list is Talaat Fahmy, a civil engineer and a veteran activist. He was part of the student movement in the 1970s that fought for democracy and social justice after price hikes and the retrieval of the Israeli occupied territories of Sinai.
A former member of the National Progressive Unionist (Tagammu) Party, Fahmy lead the wing that called for internal party change. He left following the 18-day uprising to establish the SPAP and is currently a member of its general secretariat. An engineer by trade, he is also a member of the Engineers for an Independent Syndicate movement.
“The next parliament will be the outcome of the accumulation of 30 years of corruption,” Fahmy said “Egyptians have been purposely shut out from political life by the corrupt media. Egyptians are victims of this regime and it will take time to re-establish people’s political awareness.”
“However, one of the good outcomes of the first round is that members of the old regime have undergone a very apparent collapse,” he said.
Whether the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) will bring about social justice or not, Fahmy asserts that they did not consider social justice when they had 88 members in the 2005 parliament.
“They did not offer any development projects or any laws that protect farmers nor did they demand a minimum and maximum wage,” he states. “Social justice for them lies merely in donations.”
Fahmy criticised the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), stating that his party sees the laws put forward thus far, such as the anti-strike law, as null and void.
As for the new cabinet headed by interim Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzoury, he commented that the constant reshuffling of ministers is just a means to distract the people from important issues.
Third on the North Giza electoral list is Moaz Abdel Kareem, pharmacist and member of the Muslim Brotherhood Youth, who participated in many protests during the Mubarak regime including the 6 April 2008 demonstrations, protests calling for judicial independence and protests in solidarity with torture victims Khaled Said and Sayed Belal. Abdel Keriem has a political blog and has been detained several times.
A member of the The Egyptian Current Party, which includes many of the MB’s youth wing, members of the April 6 Youth Movement as well as independent youth members, he is also a member of the Revolution Youth Coalition.
Abdel Keriem, who was expelled from the MB after the establishment of the Egyptian Current Party, is against the MB’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).
“It is not a political party,” he said regarding the FJP. “In order to become a member you have to get an invitation from one of the founders of the party and from the main office of the governorate.”
He also added that the MB has restrictive organisational rules for attending protests. The MB youth, however, attended protests to condemn military trials for civilians as well as other post-25 January protests.
Abdel Keriem also points out that the Brotherhood, as an organization, was also against the 25 January protests. The youth, though, contributed in planning the protest.
The Egyptian Current Party, is not an Islamist party, he explained. Rather it is a political party that does not follow a certain ideology.
“We are a pragmatic political party and want to reach certain aims. Our programme draws on different ideologies that offer solutions to Egypt’s problems.”