The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), founded by late President Anwar El-Sadat in August 1978, has undergone dramatic changes since 2000. That year, Gamal (47), the younger son of NDP chairman President Hosni Mubarak, joined the party's secretariat-general along with other businessmen and young academics. However, 2002 was the year that marked the party’s most important turning point in a decade. Under the banner "A New Style of Thinking," the NDP held its eighth congress, where it consolidated Gamal’s role in the party's politics, re-formulated the party's internal organizational structures and outlined a new ideology and vision for the future.
Platform and internal politics
The Political Secretariat, a newly-created NDP body, was formed in order to spearhead the party's new vision. Chaired by Gamal Mubarak, the Secretariat quickly established itself as the most influential organization within the party and the nucleus of what is now considered to be the NDP's new guard, or new generation. It scrapped the party's old socialist- and interventionists-based economic ideology in favor of market economy and liberalism, and proposed new legislations aimed at introducing more political freedoms and respect of human rights. It also approved of staging multi-candidate elections for the party chairmanship, though the NDP's eighth congress re-elected Hosni Mubarak - without a challenger - for the party's top post. The Policies Secretariat has also agreed that in addition to the party's general congress, held triennially since 1986 and every five years since 2002, an annual conference would be held to review the party's achievements, energise its base and introduce other young new guard faces to the public.
By now, the young Mubarak and his allies outnumber old guard politicians in the NDP's general secretariat and in the party's five secretariats – including in the influential Policies Secretariat. In 2002, Mubarak replaced the party's secretary-general, Youssef Wali, with then-Minister of Information Safwat El-Sherif; and in 2006 he replaced Kamal El-Shazli, NDP's secretary for organizational affairs, with Ahmed Ezz, a steel magnate and a personal associate.
In 2004, the NDP underwent another important change as the younger Mubarak played a key role in forming a new dynamic and market-oriented government led by Ahmed Nazif, a Western educated technocrat and then-Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology (IT).
Several businessmen and market-oriented officials close to Gamal Mubarak were also appointed to key economic positions in the Nazif cabinet. Foremost among them are Minister of Finance Youssef Boutros Ghali, Minister of Industry and Trade Rashid Mohamed Rashid and Minister of Investment Mahmoud Mohieddin. This economic trio has been highly hailed in Western circles, especially after it introduced tax and custom duty reductions and led to unprecedented annual economic growth of 7.1 per cent in 2007.
In February 2006, the younger Mubarak continued climbing up the NDP's organizational ladder, becoming one of three assistant secretary generals under the influential secretary-general and old guard leader Safwat El-Sherif. Several NDP businessmen close to Gamal Mubarak also occupied key positions in the newly-elected parliament: Ezz became chairman of the budget committee, Mohamed Abul-Enein, a business tycoon, became chairman of the industry committee, and Tarek Talaat Mostafa, a construction magnate, became chairman of the housing committee.
In the party's ninth general congress in 2007, the younger Mubarak's Policies Secretariat played a key role in introducing 34 constitutional amendments, the most significant of which was the one imposing a ban on political parties based on religion. In the party's 2008 annual conference, a Higher NDP Council made up of 46 leading officials was created. Any member of the Higher Council - the younger Mubarak included - has the right to seek the party’s official nomination for presidential elections. This particular regulation has spawned speculations that the council was created to help Gamal Mubarak legally and constitutionally inherit his father’s power.
In November 2007, NDP chairman President Mubarak introduced the party's latest restructuring, raising the number of secretariat-general members from 28 to 34 and appointing the party's six-member steering office, which now keeps a balance between the old guard and the new guard.
The NDP is currently preoccupied with selecting its candidates for the upcoming 2010 parliamentary elections. Although Gamal Mubarak managed to successfully engineer most of his changes and policies, the party's old guard still has much influence. The results of the upcoming parliamentary elections and developments in the next few years will determine the future of the party and the struggle for power and influence in its ranks.
NDP's organisational structures
Chairman: President Hosni Mubarak
Prominent Members of NDP's Political Bureau:
1 - Hosni Mubarak: chairman
2 - Ahmed Nazif: prime minister
3 - Fathi Sorour: speaker of the People's Assembly (Egypt's lower house of Parliament)
4 - Safwat El-Sherif: NDP's secretary-general and chairman of the Shura Council (Egypt's upper consultative house)
Prominent Members of NDP's Secretariat-General:
1 - Safwat El-Sherif
2 - Zakaria Azmi: chief of staff for President Hosni Mubarak and assistant secretary for financial affairs
3 - Moufid Shehab: Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and NDP's assistant secretary for syndicate affairs
4 - Gamal Mubarak: chairman of the Policies Secretariat
5 - Ahmed Ezz: chairman of NDP's secretariat for organizational affairs
6 - Alieddin Hilal: chairman of NDP's media affairs secretariat
NDP secretariat-general's six-member steering office:
1- Safwat El-Sherif: chairman, old guard
2- Gamal Mubarak, new guard
3- Zakaria Azmi, old guard
4- Moufid Shehab, old guard
5- Alieddin Hilal, new guard
6- Ahmed Ezz, new guard