Egyptian political parties seeking electoral consensus to meet again Tuesday

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 19 Jan 2015

Representatives from political parties aiming to reach a unified list of parliamentary candidates will hold a second meeting

Egyptian political parties met with Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi earlier in January, where he expressed hopes for a unity between all parties (Photo: Courtesy of Egypt's presidency)
Officials from the liberal Wafd Party announced on Monday that senior leaderss from around 20 political parties are set to meet again on Tuesday evening in a bid to reach consensus over a unified list of candidates in the coming parliamentary polls.
The meeting will be held at the Wafd party's Cairo headquarters.
According to Hossam El-Khouli, the Wafd's spokesperson, Tuesday's meeting will be the second in a week.
"The first meeting was held on Saturday, with the objective of identifying the positions of different political parties from different ideological backgrounds over parliamentary polls and how they can forge unified national lists of candidates in the polls," he said.
El-Khouli insisted that the first meeting resulted in positive, tangible results.
"We decided that a committee be formed to take charge of vetting proposed national lists including candidates from mainstream political parties," he said, explaining that the committee will be headed by high-profile Nasserist politician and head of the Lawyers Syndicate Sameh Ashour.
It will include chairman of the Nasserist Karama Party Mohamed Sami, deputy of the right-of-centre Congress Party Amin Radi, chairman of the Nation's Future Party Mohamed Badran, and Tamer Wagih from the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.
El-Khouli said that another committee including a number of political analysts will be tasked with drafting the national list's electoral platform.
He also disclosed that Tuesday's meeting aims to draft a code of ethics to be observed by non-Islamist political parties intending to compete in the coming polls, scheduled to be held in two rounds between 21 March and 7 May.
"This code will oblige secular candidates not to raise slogans against each other or resort to any aggressive practices against one another," said El-Khouli.
In public statements on Monday, Sameh Ashour indicated that "the arbitration committee" will be mainly tasked with closing the gap of ideological differences among secular political parties, helping them reach a unified national list of candidates capable of achieving a landslide victory in the coming polls.
In the words of Ashour, the committee's selection of candidates on the proposed national lists will be based on observing objectivity, in the sense that each party will not be allotted a certain quota of candidates and that there will be no distinction between old or new parties or between high-profile or low-profile parties.
"Candidates will be selected mainly in terms of their popularity on the street, good reputation and record of public service," said Ashour.
In a press conference after the meeting on Saturday, chairman of the Wafd Party El-Sayed El-Badawi expressed hope that candidates from Egypt's non-Islamist political parties will be running on unified lists, to be called "the national lists."
"If these forces opted to fragment into different electoral alliances with different lists of candidates, this would definitely help fragment votes and allow Islamist forces to infiltrate parliament again," said El-Badawi.
In trying to bring all secular political forces under one electoral umbrella, El-Badawi said Saturday's meeting insisted that they can unite into one national list as long as they strongly believe in the ideals of the two revolutions of 25 January and 30 June.
"We can brush our ideological differences aside as long as we believe in the ideals of these two revolutions," said Badawi.
El-Khouli said he is happy that out of a list of 25, as many as 20 political parties were keen to attend Saturday's meeting. "Unlike some press reports which gave negative coverage of Saturday's meeting, only two or three political parties declined to attend," said El-Khouli.
He expressed hope that a larger number of political parties would attend Tuesday's meeting. "This is the last chance for the country's secular political factions to unite into one electoral front," he said.
Shadi El-Ghazali Harb, a member of the 25 January Revolution's Youth Coalition, criticised attempts currently exerted by the Mubarak-era prime minister Kamal El-Ganzouri to forge a separate national list of candidates.
"Although I respect El-Ganzouri as a high-profile public figure, I believe his attempt only serves to drive a wedge among secular political forces," said Harb.
Harb also said he regretted that the left-of-centre Constitution Party, founded by Mohamed ElBaradei, refused to participate in Saturday's meeting.
El-Khouli acknowledged that some political parties, including figures from the former regime of Hosni Mubarak and those aiming to support El-Ganzouri, did not attend the meeting.
"We now have a good chance for grouping all secular forces into one alliance, but what El-Ganzouri is doing right now does not help this chance," said El-Khouli.
The electoral coalition called the Egyptian Front said it would support El-Ganzouri, preferring not to begin from scratch with the Wafd Party.
Leftist and liberal political forces who have come together under the name the Democratic Current have also said they prefer to join an electoral list being prepared by Abdel-Gelil Mostafa, the former coordinator of the anti-Mubarak Kifaya movement.
They said they are against joining the Mubarak-era figures in one electoral alliance.
The House of Representatives electoral law specifies that the coming parliament will comprise of 567 members, made up of 420 independents, 120 party-based candidates, and 27 presidential appointees.
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