The fact that Egypt’s newly elected parliament will be unable to form a government has raised questions about the Muslim Brotherhood’s relationship with the ruling military council (SCAF). It is an issue the Brotherhood seems to understand but is unwilling to tackle for now at least.
Ahmed Subaie, media spokesman for the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, told Ahram Online that the party and other political forces had suspended talks on the formation of a coalition government following the overwhelming victory of Islamist parties in the first round of parliamentary elections.
"We cannot understand how an elected parliamentary majority would be unable to form a government, whilst a SCAF-appointed government with presidential authorities would continue to govern during the interim period according to the constitutional declaration," he said.
Mohamed Morsi, head of the FJP, on Wednesday said the incoming parliamentary majority would appoint a new coalition government.
Morsi's statement came after Mamdouh Shaheen, legal assistant to the defence minister, had said in a TV interview the day before polls opened that the new parliament would not be able to dissolve the current government, or appoint a new one, because under the constitutional decree announced in March 2011, only the president had the authority to do that.
Mohamed El-Beltagy, secretary-general of the FJP, told Ahram Online that the party understood the powers held by SCAF under the constitutional declaration until a new constitution is approved and a new president elected. "However, after the new parliament is fully elected it will have the right to monitor the government's performance, and even to withdraw confidence from it...There should be mutual understanding between the government and the parliament on the policies it follows. The parliament could oppose the government's policies or refuse to pass its budget or laws, and accordingly the government would be in a politically problematic situation and unable to perform.
"The high voter turnout proves the people are the strongest element on the political map, and shows they can mobilise to defend their choices and force those elected to fulfil the revolution’s demands, which include building representative institutions, such as a parliament, presidency, local councils, and trade unions."
El-Beltagy insisted the FJP would act as a “representative of the people," but this idea itself worried some elements in society after the results of the first round of parliamentary elections were announced last week.
"We are facing two kinds of fear at the present time,” said El-Beltagy. “There is the normal fear, whether domestically or internationally, which flourishes because many people know very little about the Muslim Brotherhood. We have to tackle these fears and send conciliatory messages, especially to intellectuals, concerning personal freedoms and the rights of religious minorities, for example.
"However, there is another kind of fear stoked by those who wish to create panic about Islamists in order to stop the democratic transition in Egypt.”