Egypt's political coalitions and new parties: A guide
Ahram Online explains the sometimes bewildering array of new parties and coalitions that have entered the Egyptian political field in recent months
Amira Howeidy , Monday 1 Oct 2012
Tahalof El-Umma El-Masriya (Coalition of the Egyptian Nation): Amr Moussa, Wafd Party President Sayed Badawi
A political alliance of an unspecified number of secular parties – including the Wafd, the Ghad, the Liberal Egyptians – would-be parties and public figures. The coalition’s parties have signed a vague “document of principles” which stresses the importance of a modern constitution guaranteeing national unity within a “civil” state based on democratic foundations.
El-Mo’tamar Party (The Conference): Amr Moussa (leader) and Ayman Nour (secretary general)
An attempt to forge a single party out of 20 smaller political groups. According to Moussa the Conference is part of the Coalition of the Egyptian Nation. Launched on 17 September at a five star hotel, by Monday 24 September nine parties had merged beneath the Conference umbrella. Another 14 parties are expected to follow “soon.” Moussa has reportedly met with former members of Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party and is quoted as saying he doesn’t mind fuloul (remnants of the regime) becoming members.
El-Tayar El-Shaa’bi (The Popular Current): Hamdeen Sabbahi
Neither an election coalition nor an alliance, ex-presidential candidate Sabbahi describes it as a “current” of “civil” i.e., secular, forces in society. The current’s central committee comprises of liberal, leftist and Nasserist figures who are already members of other political parties and whose ideologies are often conflicting. The only common ground appears to be a rejection of the Islamist current, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists.
Al-Tahalof Al-Dimocrati Al-thawri (Democratic Revolutionary Coalition)
Hastily announced, the Democratic Revolutionary Coalition lumped left-wing parties together without consulting them. As it stands the coalition comprises El-Istheraki El-Masri (Egyptian Socialist), El-Tahalof El-Shaabi (The Popular Coalition), Egyptian Communist Party, the Tagammu Party, the would-be Workers and Farmers Party, the Mina Daniel Movement and the largely unknown National Coalition Against Corruption.
Social Justice Coalition: Spokesperson Nasserist TV host Hussein Abdel-Ghani
An election coalition of “civil forces” comprising the left-wing El-Tahalof El-Shaabi (Popular Coalition), El-Ishteraki El-Masri (The Egyptian Socialist), the liberal Egyptian Social Democratic Party and Mohamed ElBaradei’s liberal Dostour Party.
The Nasserist’s initiative:
An attempt by several Nasserists to form a coalition. The Karama Party (Dignity Party, originally founded by Hamdein Sabahi who resigned from it last year), the Arab Nasserist Party, the would-be El-Mo’tamar El-Sha’abi El-‘Am (The General Popular Conference) and independent Nasserists met on 28 September at Gamal Abdel-Nasser’s mausoleum following the Friday prayer.
Hizb Masr El-Qaweya (Strong Egypt Party): Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh
The candidate who came fourth in the first round of presidential elections is building on his campaign’s slightly left-leaning, centrist Islamist project to form the Strong Egypt Party which is expected to launch in mid-October.
The would-be party hasn’t joined any coalitions yet, though it has taken part in three meetings with the moderate Wassat Party, the Adl Party (Justice), the Reform and Development Party, Civilization Party and the would-be Egyptian Current Party and discussed a possible coalition.
The Dostour Party (Constitution): Mohamed El-Baradei
Though the co-founder of the party Nobel laureate Mohamed El-Baradei wasn’t present when the party’s papers to the authorities. El-Dostour is, nonetheless, widely viewed as the Baradeists political camp.
Key founders: Former culture minister Emad Abou Ghazi, former Kifaya (Enough) figure George Ishak, Ahmed Harara who lost both his eyes during the revolution, Salafi activist Mohamed Yousri Salama, ex El-Ghad party member Gamila Ismail, Nasserist legal expert Hossam Eissa.
Dostour has yet to join any wider political alliance
Hizb Masr (Egypt Party): Televangelist Amr Khaled
Preacher-turned-politician Amr Khaled says his party “isn’t political Islam” but “right at the centre”, between Islamist and liberal parties. It will target “youth” and focuson development work.
Khaled hopes to build on the success of his Life makers social development organization which has branches in Egypt, the UK and Morocco.
Hizb El-Umma (The Nation Party – Hazemoon): Supporters of disqualified presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail
Die-hard supporters of Salafist presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail are close to establishing their own political party. Since they took to the streets in April to protest Abu-Ismail’s disqualification from the presidential race on the grounds that his mother possesses a US passport (the presidential election law stipulated that both parents and spouses of a candidate have to be Egyptian), his supporters – a mix of salafis and religious Egyptians with no previous political affiliation – have demonstrated that the Salafist current is both numerous and nuanced.
Abu-Ismail has endorsed Hizb El-Umma without joining the party.
Observers say it could pose a challenge to the Salafist Nour Party which won 25 per cent of seats in the now-dissolved People’s Assembly but is currently mired in internal divisions.
This guide was published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 27 September 2012