Last Update 21:27
Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Egypt’s liberals and leftists seek alternative to Islamist political dominance

Liberals and socialists seek Third Way in fightback against Islamist, military dominance of Egypt's political scene

Nada Hussein Rashwan, Saturday 18 Aug 2012
Third current
Prominent politicians, liberals and socialists, are building a coalition to face-off with Islamists and army. Upcoming legislative elections are the real test. (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Share/Bookmark
Views: 8230
Share/Bookmark
Views: 8230

In a political landscape seemingly dominated by Islamists and the military, Egypt’s secularists and liberals have launched what they hope will be new alternative.

The Third Current was launched in June by a number of prominent political figures and liberal parties with the aim of defending personal and political rights, and upholding the civil-democratic nature of the state.

The former tripartite liberal electoral bloc of the Free Egyptians Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic party and the Tagammu Party are the group’s main coordinators.

Calls for a ‘third way’ were first issued following the first round of Egypt's presidential elections, when several nationalist and revolutionary forces called on Hamdeen Sabbahi – who came in third place – to spearhead the initiative.  

Since the announcement of the Third Current, confusion over its composition has begun to surface, especially since few details were provided about it after its launch in late June.

Adding to the confusion, Nasserist figure Hamdeen Sabbahi, who was involved in the formation of the Third Current, announced in July that he is to form a "Popular Current" with the cooperation of a group of leftist parties.

The Popular Current aims to reach beyond politics into "social and developmental fields," explained Sabbahi's campaign manager Hossam Moeness.

Moeness denied allegation that Sabbahi had defected from the Third Current after disagreements with its members.

"Our vision is to execute projects that were in Hamdeen Sabbahi's presidential programme, as well as establish a nationwide presence, partially as preparation for the next round of elections," Moeness said.

Upcoming elections: The battle for the streets    

The court-ordered dissolution of the Islamist-led People's Assembly (Parliament's lower chamber) in June appeared to offer liberal forces a second chance to form a sizable parliamentary bloc.

However, critics have accused the Third Current of failing to learn from past mistakes, such as concentrating on media appearances and failing to build a presence on the street.

"We have made progress from scratch," Fawzi said. "Over the past year and a half we have established roots and managed to get a number of representatives into parliament.

"The Islamist presence on the streets was achieved through its charity activities, but we aim to establish a presence that the people can relate to politically."

Parliamentary elections are to be held within two months after a constitution is approved by a national referendum, according to President Morsi's new Egypt Constitutional Declaration.

However, it is unknown when that will be as the constituent assembly could be dissolved by a court decision in September.

Cooperation

"The Third Current and the Popular Current still have common battles for which they will cooperate," said Moeness, referring to stances regarding the constitution and a possible electoral alliance.

The Constitution Party, which was launched in April and is led by prominent reform campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei, has already begun negotiations with representatives of parties in the Third Current regarding a parliamentary election coalition.

ElBaradei has stressed that the party aims to unite political groups rather than compete with them.

As ElBaradei's party gears up for the elections, forces in the Third Current and the Popular Current are preparing to get out onto the streets.

"We have different working groups for conducting paperwork and planning organisational activities and we're currently working out our stance on the constitution and the elections," stated Fawzi.

"We cannot go into detail about how we'll contest the elections as it depends on the new elections law, which will define the kind of alliances that can be formed."

"Our launching conference will be after Eid," Moeness added.

Third Current and revolutionary groups

Revolutionary groups have preferred to stay away from party politics and instead focused on organising themselves separately.

"We sat down with the Third Current and Hamdeen Sabbahi's campaign. They believe the revolution will only succeed through elections, but we believe it is through popular struggle," said Ahmed Ezzat, a member of the Revolutionary Socialists group.

"We told them we do not want a parliamentary coalition, but a revolutionary front. This is what the revolutionary forces are now discussing: the formation of a front of all revolutionary groups with the only aim of maintaining the popular struggle and preparing for the next revolutionary wave," he concluded.

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
9



ChilledOutGuy
19-08-2012 07:54pm
3-
0+
Secularists must be defeated
These secularists are a dangerous threat to the Islamic identity & values of Egypt. They must be refuted & defeated for the sake of protecting & preserving the religious, cultural & historical identity & values of the great Egyptian nation
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
Mohamed
20-08-2012 11:05pm
0-
1+
Faith is in the heart
You are free to preserve your values in your home and in your heart as much as you want., but you are not free to impose them on anyone. I as a practicing muslim refuse to let ANYONE tell me how to practice my faith. If you worry about your family being "corrupted" then teach them better. Only a weak man fights freedom.
8



Seif
19-08-2012 04:54am
0-
1+
Ahh Finally
Finally something I could back with confidence. People with brains.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
7



Jack
18-08-2012 03:19pm
12-
7+
Be quiet
Those bankrupt secularists who accuse Islamists of vote-buying should report this to the police. But if they can't produce any evidence, they should shut their big mouths up.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
6



Nazeer Ataullah
18-08-2012 12:41pm
12-
9+
Be healthy alternative!
Message to Third Party: Be healthy opposition or alternative instead of just politics. Today Brotherhood gained due to their sacrifices & patience, are you ready for sacrifices & patience?. Brotherhood stood against the past regine without compromise, where were you that time? Time to review and act.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
5



M V L
18-08-2012 11:04am
1-
3+
Religion and politics
The purpose of any religion is to help increase the individual's awareness of the Supreme Being and subject the individual ego to It. Politics has hardly the same calling as its purpose is to provide a framework in which the individual can develop and nurture a quality existence in a geographical territory. In addition politics is mostly driven by ego. The laws and rules promulgated by politics adapt or should adapt to practical changes in society as that society finds its place in a changing world. The underlying truth of religion is absolute and simple to understand once one is open to accept it. By involving religion in politics a disservice is done for both. The value of religion is lowered to a standard of ego that it should not be involved with because it serves a higher purpose and politics are complicated by subjective religious interpretations whose place is not in the drafting in the laws of countries but rather in the aiding the evolvement of man.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
Muhammed Ibahim
18-08-2012 03:14pm
12-
4+
politica minus morality = destruction
Religion is the main source of morality. And if politics is ti be devoid of religion and morality, it will be a force for destruction, not construction.
4



Josephine Littlejohn
18-08-2012 09:20am
0-
11+
Reality Check
"The Islamist presence on the streets was achieved through its charity activities, but we aim to establish a presence that the people can relate to politically." Then unfortunately, you will fail. The large majority of the voting masses want to know when they will have constant electric, running water, be able to drive down the street, have the trash taken, get a job etc..... going out to the people and talking politics will only work with one section of society. The rest are not interested in policy, parties etc, they want action, now. That is why the MB succeeded. It is going to take a very long time before the average working man starts to think in terms of long term political plans and how that affects him. In the meantime, speak to the needs.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
3



Dr. Malek Towghi /Tauqee (Baluch) --USA
17-08-2012 09:50pm
12-
26+
First Thing First
At this point of time, the opposition including Dr. ElBaradei should unitedly demand that the DRAFT CONSTITUTION before it goes to a referendum should clearly and unambiguously separate religion from common educational, civic, State and international affairs -- and that no religion is mentioned in it as the state religion having paramountcy in conducting the state affairs in any way.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
2



Dr. Malek Towghi /Tauqee (Baluch) --USA
17-08-2012 09:43pm
5-
16+
First Thing First
At this point of time, the opposition including Dr. ElBaradei should unitedly demand that the DRAFT CONSTITUTION before it goes to a referendum should clearly and unambiguously separate religion from common educational, civic, State and international affairs -- and that no religion is mentioned in it as the state religion having paramountcy in conducting the state affairs in any way.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
Najjar
18-08-2012 08:05pm
0-
0+
Ramy nice try
You are projecting the Mubarakist image on the MB"
Najjar
18-08-2012 07:31am
13-
1+
So you want to impose your idea of a Constitution?
That you have to ask the 80%+ Muslims of Egypt, you personally cannot impose what the consitution should mention of not. Egypt is a MUSLIM state the same as the US and also the EU claim to be Christian Nations. you dig ?
Minnawi Ahmad
18-08-2012 01:22am
16-
1+
No to atheism in the name of liberalism
How can we separate religion from education? Are we supposed to teach people that thetre is no God? That religion is mythology? That the Quran is a book written by Muhammed.We Muslims would rather die than allow such absurd educational system to gain root in our beloved Egypt.
1



Sam
17-08-2012 04:03pm
27-
11+
the Islamists will overcom
The Islamists came to power through the ballot boxes. The liberals are bankrupt, they are just frustrated because their ideas are not very popular.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
Sadab
18-08-2012 08:19am
9-
1+
Agreed
Compared to the Islamists, the liberals seem like alien creatures from Mars..:D
Sadab
18-08-2012 08:19am
5-
0+
Agreed
Compared to the Islamists, the liberals seem like alien creatures from Mars..:D
Ramy the Egyptian
18-08-2012 07:44am
5-
18+
Not quite
I would have to disagree with you... The Islamists came to power through vote-buying, intimidation and rigging. They are also no longer as popular in the streets. The problem with the secularist liberals is that they are often mistaken and compared to Mubarak's felool. Also, most of them are part of the upper-middle class and so they lack street presence outside of Cairo. Sadly, they are not organised and separated into little parties. But, I really wish that they reach a compromise and form a HUGE parliamentary bloc so we can see a change from these Islamist troglodytes.
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.