Parliamentary Elections Monitor

Note: This is an archived project; no significant changes have been made since parliament was seated in January 2016.

Participating

Overview

The Republican People’s Party is a relatively recent addition to Egypt’s political landscape, having been officially established in September 2012. The party is based around a single personality, party leader Hazem Omar, and has ties to former National Democratic Party (NDP) figures who are rumored to have been close to the family of former President Hosni Mubarak. However, the party denounces any attempts to characterize its members as feloul (remnants of the NDP) and has publically criticized the prominent, pro-regime “For the Love of Egypt” alliance.

Aside from these connections, the party lacks any obvious particularities and appears to be relatively weak on the ground, which caused many analysts to overlook it before the elections began; however, it distinguished itself by its unexpected, early electoral prowess. The Republican People’s Party won 11 seats in the first phase of the 2015 parliamentary elections, the fourth-most seats of any party. This placed it above the likes of more established groups such as the Nour Party and the Social Democratic Party at the halfway mark of the elections. 

This may have been a product of the Republican People’s Party reportedly spending one million Egyptian pounds on the 42 individual candidates they ran in the first phase. However, after likely spending as much again in the second phase on their 31 candidates, the party won only two additional seats. Omar, the party’s president, said that they were originally aiming to reach a total of 30 seats, but their 13 members of parliament still gives them the fifth-most of any party. The party has also bolstered their voting power by joining the majority, pro-regime Coalition in Support of Egypt.

Background

The Republican People’s Party (RPP) was formally established in September 2012 by a group of political actors opposed to the Islamist currents that dominated Egyptian politics at the time. Prior to official government recognition, the party openly campaigned for former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa’s presidential campaign and eventually merged with 24 other groups to establish the Conference Party under Moussa’s leadership. The members of this new alliance united in an attempt to create a third way between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood narratives that dominated the scene. The RPP, however, subsequently broke away from the group when Moussa stepped down as the Conference Party’s head. The RPP then moved to create the Egyptian Front Coalition, with other statist, politically secular groups like the National Movement Party and Egypt My Country Party.

The party later left the Egyptian Front as well and is now competing for individual seats alone in this election, its first.

Stances

The party’s general inclination has been to maintain a status quo model, seeking to address the issues that brought about the January 25 Revolution without fully abandoning the political stances that were popular under the NDP. Party president Hazem Omar denies characterizations of the party as a network of feloul (remnants of the old regime). However, the Republican People’s Party platform demonstrates continuity with Mubarak-era political practices of focusing on selective liberalization of the economy and improved state services to citizens.

Nationally, the party promotes government involvement in the economy to encourage growth in the most competitive economic sectors. They also espouse several populist domestic policies, ranging from developing pharmaceutical pricing policies and providing comprehensive health insurance to improving the education system.

On the foreign policy side, the party wishes to protect the geostrategic importance of Egypt, calling on the government to ensure Egypt’s interests in the Nile Basin and trumpeting the state’s growing role in the United Nations (via its Security Council seat), and the Arab League.

Party Relations

As a founding member of the Conference Party, the Republican People’s Party was originally connected to such parties as the Conservative Party, Arab Socialist Party, and the Democratic Generation Party. It further expanded its network of relations by joining the Egyptian Front Coalition, through which it was briefly connected with Mubarak-era opposition groups like the Tagammu Party and the Ghad Party, though evidence suggests that those ties have not been well maintained. The Egyptian Front also included parties with membership demographics similar to the RPP, like Ahmed Shafiq’s National Movement Party and the Egypt My Country Party, which are in direct electoral competition with the party but are likely to advocate for similar programs inside parliament.

However, after leaving the Egyptian Front, the Republican People’s Party has done relatively little to build public relationships with other parties. It may even be characterized as openly eschewing such ties when it attacked the For the Love of Egypt coalition, the dominant group of pro-regime parties, as a state creation purchasing its parliamentary power. This lack of interest in electoral alliances is further demonstrated in the party’s decision to only support individual candidates in these elections.

Internal Organization

The party appears to be organized on a presidential basis, much like other relatively small parties. Control of the organization resides in the group’s leader and rumored benefactor, Hazem Omar. The Republican People’s Party general secretariat of members does appoint a secretary- general and a deputy secretary-general to represent them during top-level committee meetings. However, party president Hazem Omar is the cohesive force behind the party and its public face, serving as its de facto spokesman. 

Leadership

The Republican People’s Party is led by Hazem Omar, a wealthy engineer from Manshiet Omar in Sharqia. Omar previously served as a deputy head of the Conference Party before leading the Republican People’s Party’s exit from the group. He is now the party president and arguably its most important member. The party is rumored to revolve around his leadership in much the same way that the National Movement Party is closely tied with the personality of Ahmed Shafiq.

The rest of the party’s leadership also has a strong political pedigree. The group’s current secretary-general is Safi al-Din Kharboush, a professor of political science at Cairo University and former head of the National Council for Youth. Kharboush, who won the State Excellence Award in Social Sciences in 2013 for his academic work, has notable, high-level ties to the dissolved National Democratic Party. His deputy, Abdul Hamid Yunis Zaid, also has a well-established political background, with previous experience in parliament as a National Democratic Party member and a position teaching political sociology at the University of Fayoum.

Participating

Overview

The Nation’s Future Party has risen to prominence based on the successful campaign of its young leader, Muhammad Badran. Founded a little more than a year ago, the party has tied itself to President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi, who features prominently in their campaign materials and whom the party supports nearly unequivocally.  

The party—variously translated as Future of the Nation, Future of the Homeland, and other names—contested 173 total individual seats in this election. Nation’s Future ran 88 individual candidate seats in the first phase, with at least one in every province except Matruh, and five on the “For the Love of Egypt” lists (three in Upper Egypt and one in West Delta). The party won 23 of the individual seats they contested and all its list seats, making it the second-winningest party in the first phase of the elections.

After studying their first round mistakes and fielding 85 individual and 6 list candidates, the Nation’s Future Party did not appreciably increase their overall winning percentage. It captured 20 individual seats in the second phase and six on the “For the Love of Egypt” lists (five in Cairo and one in East Delta). This gave them 53 members of parliament, the second-highest number of any party.

The party has also decided to join the majority, pro-regime Coalition in Support of Egypt. Early disputes over the party’s lack of prominence in the coalition caused them to announce a withdrawal, but the two sides later reconciled.

Background

The Nation’s Future Party began in November 2013 as a youth campaign aimed at supporting the political roadmap after the ouster of Muhammad Morsi, and refocused their energies toward campaigning for Sisi in his bid for president several months later. Following their relative success in this endeavor, the group, headed by noted anti-Muslim Brotherhood figure and Egyptian Student Union President Muhammad Badran, officially registered their campaign as a party on July 22, 2014. Other party founders include Ashraf Abdel Hamid, Mu’mina Mustafa, Muhammad Fatahi, Ahmed Naguib, Muhammad Aboul Khair, Sayyid Nour al-Din, Aboul Wafa Fayaz Aboul Wafa, Hisham Mustafa, Ahmed Karam Ahmed, and Ahmed Mubarak Muhammad.

Despite Nation’s Future’s beginnings as a youth movement and self-characterization as a party of the youth, many of the candidates running in these elections under their banner are older, experienced public figures. Several of them are also former members of the National Democratic Party, the now-disbanded party of Hosni Mubarak. According to the group’s leaders, this older generation has been included in a youth party as a self-conscious effort to educate and prepare the party’s younger members before power is handed over to them.

Muhammad Badran, the party’s 24-year-old president, says the group is funded by a number of Egyptian businessmen. These financiers include steel manufacturer Ahmed Abu Hashima, Mubarak-era real estate tycoon Farag Umar, restauranteur Mansour Amar, and Hani Abu Rida, president of the African Football Confederation.

Stances

The Nation’s Future Party supported the post-Morsi political roadmap as well as Sisi’s presidential bid, and the party continues to take a strong position in support of the current president, even using his image on campaign materials. Muhammad Badran, the head of the party, has agreed with virtually all Sisi’s decisions as president.

Badran has also said that he believes that the Egyptian political parties should focus not on political ideology but instead on fixing fundamental economic issues such as poverty. Members of the party have echoed this position, saying that protecting the nation will be their priority in parliament.

Party Relations

In February 2015, Nation’s Future joined the “For the Love of Egypt” coalition that was developed and coordinated by Sameh Seif al-Yazal. The party’s high representation on that electoral list (running for seats in numbers comparable to more established parties like the Wafd and Free Egyptians Parties) and praise from coalition leader Seif al-Yazal indicate the party’s close ties with the list’s leadership. Party leader Muhammad Badran also seems to have close ties with President Sisi himself, and he was one of the select few to accompany the president during the inauguration of the Suez Canal expansion.

The party’s rapid rise to prominence has attracted members from other parties in Egypt. Marwan Younes, a former leader in Ahmed Shafiq’s National Movement Party and part of Sisi’s campaign team, is now running for a seat in Cairo under the Nation’s Future banner.

Internal Organization

While party leader Muhammad Badran is the most active force in Nation’s Future, regularly attending conferences for candidates’ individual campaigns, the party has widespread leadership presence, with party secretaries in respective provinces. The Nation’s Future Party has a leadership council, similar to many of its counterparts. The party also has a strong network of volunteer support, with many students from Badran’s prior campaign efforts staying on to promote the party.

Leadership

Twenty-four-year-old Muhammad Badran is the leader of the Nation’s Future Party, and claims to be the youngest party president in Egypt’s history. Badran founded the party a little over a year ago, after being chosen as the student representative on the 50-member committee responsible for rewriting the constitution following the ouster of Muhammad Morsi. Badran was previously the president of the Egyptian Student Union, running for that post independently and defeating the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated candidate Mustafa Mounir al-Bahi.

Participating

Overview

The Egyptian National Movement Party was founded on the back of Ahmed Shafiq’s failed presidential bid in 2012. The party, which uses many of the same grass-roots networks and structures as the earlier campaign, was announced in September 2012 after Shafiq moved to the United Arab Emirates. It has stayed active since its inception, despite its leader’s recent period of self-imposed exile, promoting a typical civil state agenda of encouraging investment, improving healthcare, developing unemployment benefits for Egyptians, increasing the number of public libraries, and engaging youth, among other things. While the party is sometimes criticized on the basis of its open links to the former National Democratic Party, its ties to businessmen and seasoned political figures have lent it resilience.

The National Movement Party had a difficult start to the 2015 elections, with bureaucratic issues briefly sidelining their joint list with the Independent Current in Upper Egypt and internal divisions causing party officials to resign mid-race.

Though the NMP hinted at running as many as 250 candidates for parliament, during the first phase of the elections they fielded only 58 individual candidates. The party captured one seat during the first phase, in the Sidi Gaber district of Alexandria, and, despite running an additional 62 candidates across 10 of the 13 contested governorates in the second phase, only won three more seats. These four individual seats are all located within Egypt’s northern delta.

The party will also operate outside of the majority, pro-regime Coalition in Support of Egypt in parliament.

Background

Founded in September 2012, only three months after Ahmed Shafiq came within 3 percentage points of winning the presidency, the Egyptian National Movement Party is relatively new to the political scene. It was founded ostensibly as a way to maintain the cohesion of the bloc that had provided the largest challenge to the pro-Muslim Brotherhood vote. Though the party itself does not have the history of some of the other groups competing in this election, the political experience and connections of many of its members gives it an advantage over other new parties. 

Stances

The Egyptian National Movement Party has tended to follow the state line both domestically and abroad, urging other parties to accept the controversial protest law, calling on all Egyptian political figures to band together in support of President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi, publically praising the state’s economic plans, and encouraging the government in its fight against domestic terrorism.

On foreign policy, the party has continued to support the state in its involvement in the civil war in Yemen and has praised Egypt’s allies there. However, the majority of the party’s statements are directed toward political and electoral developments in Egypt, giving the party a local policy focus.

Party Relations

Thanks to the political experience of many of its members and the party’s domestic and local approach to politics, the Egyptian National Movement Party has developed a wide web of party relations. They are a leading member of the Egyptian Front Coalition, a right-wing, pro-regime group that includes the Generation Party, the Egypt My Country Party, and the Tomorrow Party. The National Movement Party led this coalition into a temporary agreement with the “For the Love of Egypt” list, the largest coalition running in these elections, before deciding to form their own list with the Independent Current, which is titled “Egypt.”

In the past, the party has also had close ties to a variety of ideologically diverse, older groups including the Conference Party, the Tagammu Party, the Karama Party, and the Democratic Front.

Internal Organization

The party’s internal organization does not differ significantly from the format found in other modern Egyptian parties. The main difference is the power of the president, who is much more important to the Egyptian National Movement Party than to some other parties. The position of president is voted upon by the General Assembly, along with the fourteen members of the High Council that the president chairs. Below them is the General Secretariat, which is comprised of ten elected members, five members selected by the president, the secretaries of the central secretariats, and the secretary-general of the party. These structures are replicated at the local levels with governorate secretariats made up of the elected members of local committees.

Leadership

The Egyptian National Movement Party is led by Ahmed Shafiq, a former Air Force Chief of Staff and Minister of Civil Aviation who became the final prime minister of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Shafiq’s unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2012 was the impetus behind the party. Party leadership has stood by Shafiq, re-electing him as party president despite his long stay in the United Arab Emirates and the charges of misappropriating state land that he faces. He also appears to be the strongest force in the party, serving as the face of the group in not only their own media campaigns but also in news media descriptions of the party.

Until recently, other party leaders included retired judge Yahya Qadri and former Director of the Central Agency for Organization and Administration Safwat al-Nahhas. However, in early September, Qadri tendered his resignation over differences of opinion with the party’s electoral strategy and is rumored to be starting his own party. News outlets also reported that Nahhas was resigning from the party and pulling out of the elections in protest of what he called the “mismanagement” of the party in October of this year.

Participating

Overview

The Wafd Party is Egypt’s oldest party, with roots in the World War I era when Wafd was a key player in a liberal period in the country. Today’s incarnation retains many positions from its liberal beginnings, promoting a free market economy, religious and political rights, and a system of governmental checks and balances. The party did incorporate a reference to shari’a as a legitimate source of legislation as a result of their alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood in 1984, but has distanced themselves from the Brotherhood in recent years.

Wafd has a long history of political organizing, offices in all provinces, and connections with businessmen and members of influential families, like party head al-Sayyid al-Badawi, that provide ample funding. Because of its strength, Wafd has attracted smaller parties to its own list, both in 2011-2012 and in 2014-2015.

In the 2015 elections, Wafd ran eight candidates with the “For the Love of Egypt” list, along with 184 individual candidates, making it one of the more active parties participating in this election.

77 of these individual candidates competed in the first phase of elections, winning 11 seats, and all four list candidates (three Upper Egypt and one West Delta) were also successful. Though they are rumored to have spent LE2.6 million to campaign in the first phase, the party further increased its participation, running 107 individual candidates and four list candidates in the second phase of the elections. This resulted in an additional 20 seats (16 individual and four on the Cairo list), making Wafd the third-most popular party in parliament with 35 total seats.

They are currently going forward without a political coalition, having resigned from the Coalition in Support of Egypt and failed to form their own before parliament was seated.

Background

The Wafd Party was launched by a group of nationalists led by Saad Zaghlul as a delegation (Arabic wafd) to the British colonial government during and after World War I. Egypt’s oldest party was dissolved following the 1952 revolution, but was resurrected by Fuad Siraj al-Din as the New Wafd Party in 1978 when President Anwar Sadat allowed for an opening of political parties. Thanks to this long history of political activity, Wafd, which describes itself as a “centrist party that calls for democracy, freedom of speech, and independence of the judiciary,” had party offices in all 27 governorates in 2011. The party was also one of the first to elect Copts to high-ranking positions, a position of unity displayed in their cross and crescent party emblem.

The party won 9.2% of the vote and 38 seats in the 2011 elections, making it the third-best performer, after the Freedom and Justice Party and Nour Party.

In May 2015, party leadership voted to change the formal name from “New Wafd Party” to “Egyptian Wafd Party.” The resurrected party, despite its official names, is widely referred to in Arabic and English simply as Wafd.

Stances

Wafd Party members were known to be among those participating in the 2011 uprising, but the party was criticized for its participation in meetings with Vice President Omar Suleiman during the first week of protests. While the party supported the ouster of Muhammad Morsi in 2013, Wafd President al-Sayyid al-Badawi criticized Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab’s later efforts to reform the electoral laws in April 2015 as ineffective, describing Mahlab’s efforts to consult with political parties as a “dialogue of the deaf” and asserting that the new electoral law would not result in a parliament that represents all Egyptians.

Nationally, the party has supported shari’a as the main source of legislation, a break from its founding platform. They have also opposed military trials of civilians and laws criminalizing sit-ins, while refraining from joining physical protests of these laws. On foreign relations, Wafd has opposed international electoral monitoring as foreign interference, claiming that the United States is the main obstacle to Arab-Israeli peace, and hinting at an annulment of the Camp David Accords.

Party Relations

Wafd ran in a coalition with the Muslim Brotherhood in 1984 and attempted to recreate this alliance during the 2011 elections under the Democratic Alliance. However, citing differences over the position of candidates in electoral lists, Wafd withdrew from the Democratic Alliance.

Leading up to the anticipated March 2015 elections, Wafd formed its own coalition dubbed the Egyptian Wafd Alliance comprised of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Reform and Development Party, the Conservatives, the Awareness Party, and other smaller political groups. Political efforts expanded the coalition to include the Egyptian Front, a group of smaller pro-government parties, and the Conference Party, under the moniker of Sons of Upper Egypt. Up until February 2015, the Wafd Party maintained this coalition despite what party head al-Sayyid al-Badawi had noted as pressure from state security to join the “For the Love of Egypt” coalition. Indeed, on the eve of candidacy registration in February 2015, the party abandoned the Sons of Upper Egypt and submitted its candidates as part of For the Love of Egypt.

Leading into the 2015 elections, Wafd is putting forward 300 individual candidates along with 8 candidates on the For the Love of Egypt list, according to party Vice Chairman Yasser al-Hudaibi. Wafd is joined on the For the Love of Egypt coalition list by the Conservatives, the Sadat Democratic Party, the Reform and Development Party, the Free Egyptians Party, the Nation’s Future Party, the Modern Egypt Party, and Tamarod.

Internal Organization

The party’s internal organization follows a format seen in many liberal Egyptian parties. The party president serves as the figurehead while a group of generally between 14-16 elected party leaders debates the party’s political platform and response to current events. A second elected body focuses on the day-to-day matters of the organization; it is typically made up of 80-90 party members with each party branch represented in the council.

Leadership

Wafd is led by al-Sayyid al-Badawi, the owner of one of Egypt’s top five television channels, al-Hayat, and chairman of pharmaceutical giant Sigma. Badawi became secretary-general of the Wafd party in 2000 and was reelected in 2014.

Since May 2015, turmoil has been brewing within the Wafd party as suspended members moved for a vote of no confidence against Badawi, sparking a feud between rival factions. While President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi met with both sides to ask for unity, disputes continued, and anti-Badawi sentiment remained. By the end of the month, new elections were held; Badawi remained and his supporters won most of the new spots on the council. The rift was destabilizing, and it has been suggested that Badawi will resign if Wafd does not win 100 seats in the new parliament.

Other ranking members of the party include: Fuad Badrawi, the grandson of the man who reconstituted Wafd back in the 1970s; Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, formerminister of industry, trade, and investment; and Ahmed al-Arab, Safir Nour, Ahmed Auda, and Noaman Gomaa, all of whom have served in party leadership. Ahmed Mortada Mansour, son of media and political figure Mortada Mansour joined Wafd in January 2015 to run on their party list.

Boycotting

Overview

The Dostour Party (also referred to in English as the Constitution Party) was founded in April 2012 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed El Baradei, with a decidedly leftist and revolutionary focus. While it remains relatively popular among youth and its party leadership has maintained a critical and strong voice, the party has been plagued by internal division.

In a November 2014 interview with the Associated Press, former party spokesperson Khaled Dawoud described a strong performance in the upcoming elections as essential to parties’ “survival.” Yet after significant criticism of the elections law and the submission of proposed revisions, the party announced that it would not be participating in the March 2015 elections due to the political climate. The party’s governing body then decided to participate in the October-November 2015 elections, but internal divisions caused several branches of the party to vote to ignore the decision and boycott the elections on their own. This internal conflict appears to have forced the party to bow out of the electoral process.

Background

Dostour was founded in April 2012 by Nobel laureate Mohamed El Baradeion the principle of fulfilling the goals of the revolution. To this end, the party’s official stance is that the government should provide security, freedom, social justice, and human dignity to all Egyptians.

Many Egyptian youth and the diaspora have been drawn to this pro-revolution, statist call. This is evident in over 85% of Dostour members being under the age of 35 and the successful institution of a Canadian branch with offices in five cities.

However, the party has been divided over support for the armed forces’ decision to oust Muhammad Morsi from the presidency. The group supported protests against Morsi, and El Baradei was made Vice President for Foreign Affairs in the transitional government. After the violent police dispersals of the pro-Morsi Raba’a and Nahda Square sit-ins, however, El Baradei resigned from that post, citing the party’s belief in peaceful activism and proportional governmental response. Party membership subsequently dropped from approximately 25,000 to approximately 18,000—and prominent party officials also quit—in response to what some viewed as El Baradei abandoning the country in an important moment.

Stances

The Dostour Party has experienced some internal difficulties in determining their stances beyond those championed during the January 25 revolution; bread, freedom, and social justice. When then-party president Mohamed El Baradei resigned from the cabinet, members in multiple governorates openly denounced his stance and called for his dismissal from the party. The party’s stance against the commissioning of the police and military to fight terrorism, an implicit indictment of the now illegal Muslim Brotherhood, also brought condemnation from the party’s student organization.

However, party members strongly support ideas like the protection of press freedoms, the boycott-divestment-sanctions movement against Israel, and increased youth presence in government. Dostour has also promoted policies based around a strong Egyptian state such as calling on the state to provide services for citizens instead of allowing political parties to fill the void and criticizing increased acceptance of Gulf aid. The party stance on the new parliamentary elections law is negative as well, comparing it to Mubarak-era practices.

Party Relations

Dostour repeatedly discussed the potential of merging or collaborating with the Social Democratic Party or the Strong Egypt Party in March 2015 elections. But their most public efforts have been with the Karama Party, the Free Egypt Party, the Popular Current Party, and the Social Popular Alliance Party in denouncing the new Parliamentary Elections law. In April of 2015, Dostour along with Karama, the Popular Current, Wafd, the Egyptian Democratic Party, and Egypt Awakening lists were said to be attempting to form a coalition; however, these discussion bore no fruit.  El Baradei’s original intention in founding the party was to make it a “big-tent” party for young revolutionaries, but this broader network has been very slow in forming.

Internal Organization

The Dostour Party is internally organized in a manner similar to other Egyptian parties. All leadership positions are decided by internal elections of party members. This includes elections to the Supreme Council and party chair, positions which make executive party decisions. Members can also be elected to a multitude of internal councils focused on topical issues like youth participation and economic initiatives. These councils cannot, however, modify party stances or projects without consent.

Members can also be elected to a multitude of internal councils such as the Politburo, Secretariat of Media, Secretariat of Education, Secretariat of Planning, Secretariat of National Affairs, Secretariat of Youth, Secretariat of Women, and the Local Councils Secretariat. The names, and often the contact information, for party members elected to these councils is then posted on the party’s website as a matter of public record.

Leadership

As the founder and one of the highest profile members, Mohamed El Baradei’s name is often linked with that of the Dostour Party. His popularity stems from his achievements as a Nobel laureate and former Director-General of the Atomic Energy Agency. Though he resigned as head of the party in 2013, he was recently named honorary head for life. Other founding members of the party included: George Ishak, a founder of the Kefaya Movement; Emad Abu Ghazi, a former minister of culture; Ahmed Harara, a well-known activist from the revolution; the late Mohamed Yousri Salama, a Salafist writer; Gamila Ismail, an activist and former talk show host; and Hossam Eissa, a former minister of education.

The leadership has not always been cohesive. Abu Ghazi, Eissa, and previous party head Ahmed Darrag have all left the party in protest of El Baradei’s resignation from the government and subsequent party stances. This allowed new leadership to bloom for a time under Hala Shukrallah, the first elected Coptic woman to lead a party in Egypt. The party has faced further internal conflict since Shukrallah announced in April that she would not seek the party presidency again. After internal elections were postponed multiple times, Shukrallah eventually stepped down in August and Tamer Gomaa has been named acting head of the party until the elections take place.

Participating

Overview

Formed in 2012 from the unification of many distinct parties and movements, the Conference Party espouses a moderate ideology, broadly focusing on the need for integration and plurality in the political arena.

The Conference Party’s greatest challenge leading up to the 2015 elections come from internal divisions that have plagued the party since Amr Moussa resigned as its head in July of 2013. His successor served only 14 days before resigning and the rise of the current leader, Omar Samida, inspired the exodus of the party’s youth wing. Differences of opinion also saw 34 party members resign en masse in April 2014.

Despite these divisions, the party benefits from the support of its well-connected and established leadership, and it ran 102 candidates in 89 electoral districts across the two phases of the elections. Twenty-three of these candidates are youth candidates, and four candidates will be part of the “For the Love of Egypt” list.

The Conference Party ran 53 individual candidates in the first phase of elections and 49 individual candidates in the second phase, winning five and three seats, respectively. Their pairs of candidates on both the “For the Love of Egypt” Upper Egypt list and East Delta list also claimed seats in parliament. In spite of only controlling 12 seats in the parliament, the Conference Party has pledged not to join any alliances or coalitions in the parliament and will pursue their goals independently.

Background

The Conference Party began when 25 parties and movements, representing a spectrum of political ideologies, united under the leadership of former Minister of Foreign Affairs Amr Moussa on September 17, 2012. The groups’ varied ideologies have given the Conference Party an inclusive dynamic, combining parties like the Democratic Front Party, Ghad al-Thawra, the Conservatives, the Freedom Party, and the Egyptian Citizens Party. The Conference Party originally claimed that this grouping did not represent an alliance, but stood as a “permanent integration of parties” to form one organization representing the majority of Egyptians. However, the group has seen several of the original members, such as the Conservative Party and the Freedom Party, break off and pursue their own electoral plans.

Stances

The party’s positions have been relatively pro-regime and are often characterized by praise for the state’s decisions. This stance is not explicitly stated by the party, but can be seen through examples like its praise of President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi’s signaled change in Egyptian-American relations at the latest United Nations General Assembly or its backing of both participating in the airstrikes in Yemen against the Houthis and the creation of the Joint Arab Defense Force. 

Many of the Conference Party’s core policy goals, including the promotion of moderate political options, preservation of Egyptian identity, and a plurality government, are locally focused and have not changed significantly since their founding. Their electoral platform in these elections continues to exhibit this domestic focus by calling for improved medical care and expanded insurance for Egyptian citizens, increased education spending, state support of small and medium local industries, and government initiatives to improve the lot of rural farmers, disenfranchised youth, and women in society.

Party Relations

The Conference Party’s has developed a large network of party relations. It has most recently announced its participation the For the Love of Egypt list, along with the Free Egyptians Party, the Wafd Party, the Reform and Development Party, the Democratic Sadat Party, the Future Nation Party, and the Modern Egypt Party. This comes after a failed attempt to join the Egyptian Front’s proposed electoral list, which would have consisted of former Mubarak staffers and political figures in the Misr Baladi ‎Party, the Generation ‎‎Party, the Democratic al-Ghad Party, and ‎the leftist Tagammu Party.

The party has also developed ties in the past to organizations in the National Salvation Front, including the Egyptian Popular Current, Constitution Party, and Egyptian Democratic Party, although its connection with these parties is tentative. During their time together, members of this coalition protested being politically connected to Amr Moussa, the Conference Party’s honorary head, over his alleged sympathies towards the Muslim Brotherhood, while liberal personalities associated with the Front threatened to cut ties with the party over its acceptance of former National Democratic Party members into its ranks.

Internal Organization

The Conference Party’s internal organization appears to be very similar to that of its peers. A party president is elected internally and tasked with leading the organization. He is accompanied by eight vice presidents, each specialized in various matters important to the party.  These leaders preside over the Supreme Council, which consists of between 100-150 elected party members who receive suggestions and views from the local party units and use those to help shape and direct party policy.

Leadership

The party is currently headed by Omar Samida, a businessman and former naval office whose father was a member of the Free Officers group that led the 1952 revolution. Samida ascended to the party leadership in a time of internal unrest in the Conference Party. The party’s founder and honorary head, former Secretary-General of the Arab League and Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa, had stepped down as a way of passing the torch to a new generation of leadership and assuming leadership of the National Salvation Front, a coalition of liberals and leftists aimed at countering Islamic electoral dominance. But his replacement, Muhammad al-Orabi, served as party president for only 14 days before resigning. This brought about Samida’s election, upon which a large portion of the party’s youth wing broke away to form the Alternative Stream. Former leaders Salah Hasaballah, the Conference Party spokesman, and Moataz Mahmoud, vice president for parliamentary affairs, have also demonstrated some apprehension to Samida’s leadership, resigning in May over disagreements with the chairman regarding party management.

Current party leaders include retired Air Force Major General Amin Radi, secretary-general of the party, and Magdi Murshid, party vice president and candidate on the For the Love of Egypt’s East Delta list, who works as a medical doctor and professor of medicine at Zagazig University.

Participating

Overview

The Karama Party (also referred to in English as the Dignity Party is an Arab nationalist party that began to take shape well before the January 25 Revolution. It originated as a breakaway group from the Nasserist Party, but still espouses many of the hallmarks of Nasserist ideology, such as a strong governmental role in state planning, reduction of poverty through social welfare programs, and opposition to normalized relations with Israel. This has not stopped the group from eclipsing the Nasserist Party and gaining relative prominence thanks in part to the political success of one of the party’s founders, Hamdeen Sabahi, who came in third in the 2012 presidential elections and second in the 2014 presidential elections. 

A lack of funding and indecision about the role the party will play in the upcoming elections have weakened the Karama Party, though. After some debate and contradictory official statements, party president Muhammad Sami announced that they would only field 23 individual candidates and would not participate in the list elections. The party has also made it clear that it will play a limited role in covering the costs of printed materials for the candidates running under its name. The candidates themselves will have to bear the rest of the campaign expenses.

In spite of this early projection, the Karama Party only ran three individual candidates in the first phase of elections, all in the Sohag province, and four in the second phase. None of these candidates won a seat in parliament.

Background

Formed by a group of former Nasserist Party members and activists in 1997, the Egyptian government refused to license the Karama Party’s first two attempts to officially register, leaving its members to run as independents in the 2000 and 2005 elections. During that period, the group was active in the Kefaya (“Enough!”) Movement and other, smaller opposition protests leading up to the January 25demonstrations.

The government finally sanctioned the Karama Party in August of 2011, which allowed it to compete in the 2011-2012 parliamentary elections as part of the Democratic Alliance for Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Freedom and Justice Party’s coalition, with whom it received six seats in the assembly. Hamdeen Sabahi, one of the party’s better-known founders, also raised the profile of the party by running for the presidency of Egypt in 2012 and 2014 with the group’s endorsement (although he ran as an individual candidate).

Stances

The Karama Party and its members were active in the uprisings in both 2011 and 2013, when the party called on its supporters to take to the streets to protest Muhammad Morsi’s consolidation of power. Although the party favored Sabahi’s presidential bid over that of Sisi’s in 2014, this was the only time the party took an opposing position to Sisi’s politics.

The Karama Party remains true to its Nasserist roots in both foreign and domestic policy stances. Locally, the party calls for a return to state planning of the economy and an equitable redistribution of wealth and resources for Egyptians. Yet it should not be characterized as a clone of previous Nasserist parties, displaying its liberal, oppositional viewpoint by working to have the Protest Law amended, calling for electoral boycotts over the treatment of prisoners, and condemning the killing of protestors by security forces.

The party’s foreign policy stances revolve around the principle that all international agreements should be put to a popular referendum. Through this mechanism, the Karama Party hopes that the current treaty with Israel will be abrogated. This dream has become one of the cornerstones of the group’s foreign policy stances, with the party’s secretary-general, Muhammad al-Bassiouni, announcing that it will be their first act in parliament if they control a majority.  The party recently voiced its opposition to the current participation of the Egyptian military in the civil war in Yemen because they believe it will only increase the growing Sunni-Shia divide in the region. They have also called for an Arab Free Trade Agreement and policies to replace foreign labor with Arab labor throughout the region.

Party Relations

Since its official inception in 2011, the Karama Party has preferred to form electoral coalitions instead of running alone in races. This has given it a relatively wide web of party relations. In the 2011 parliamentary elections, the party chose to ally with the Democratic Alliance, a coalition of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Ghad -l-Thawra Party, the Labor Party, the Reform and Renaissance Party, the Civilization Party, the Reform Party, the Generation Party, the Egyptian Arab Socialist Party, the  Freedoms Party, and the Freedom and Development Party. After the parliament was annulled by the Egyptian High Court, the party moved to ally with the Democratic Current, a group of large liberal parties including the Adl Party, the Free Egypt Party, the Dostour Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, and the Popular Current.

Though the Karama Party recently attempted to become part of the Egypt Awakening list for the 2015 parliamentary elections, a list which subsequently decided to boycott the elections, the party claims that it is still coordinating with members of the Democratic Current in the individual races in which it is running. The level of coordination remains to be seen as the Democratic Current decided to boycott these elections as a body and allow its member organizations to make their own decisions on electoral participation.

Internal Organization

The Karama Party is organized similarly to other modern Egyptian parties. Its membership elects representatives to attend the party General Assembly, which is responsible for electing the party president and the members of the High Council. The Council is tasked with executing the decisions voted upon by the General Assembly and dealing with the higher-level functions of the party.  Karama’s system of internal organization also includes an Executive Bureau and a Political Bureau that include the party leader and high-ranking members who help to steer the party’s overall trajectory.

Leadership

The current leader of the Karama Party is Muhammad Sami, a relatively private figure who has seen the party through the turbulent political currents of the post-June 30 political scene. The party leadership also includes Dr. Muhammad Bassiouni, the party general secretary, and Sayyid Ghattas, the vice president for political affairs who is currently running for party founder Hamdeen Sabbahi’s old parliamentary seat in Borlis.

The party’s founders were former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi, longtime Nasserist activist Amin Iskander, and Kemal Abu Eita, head of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions and minister of manpower in former President Morsi’s cabinet.

Participating

Overview

The Free Egyptians Party (FEP) advocates for liberal market economics, a clear separation of religion and state, and the principles of liberal democracy. Though the party was formed on the heels of the January 25 Revolution and strongly opposed the interim rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in 2011, it has generally been supportive of the current administration under President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi. The resignation of party president Ahmed Said in September 2014 and subsequent departure of party leaders revealed some internal dissent within the group. However, under the leadership of acting President Essam Khalil, the FEP remains one of the most prominent political parties in Egypt due to its secure funding and strong campaign presence throughout Egypt.

The Free Egyptians Party contested the greatest number of individual candidates in the first round of elections, 113 candidates in 13 out of 14 first-phase provinces. (No FEP candidate ran in Matruh.) This effort won them 41 seats, the most of any party in the first phase of the elections. They captured 36 individual seats throughout the country and five list seats—four in Upper Egypt and one in West Delta—on the “For the Love of Egypt” lists.

The party continued its electoral dominance in the second phase, running 107 individual candidates and three list candidates on the “For the Love of Egypt” Cairo list. The Free Egyptians won all three list seats and captured an additional 16 individual seats to solidify their place as the most popular party in parliament. Since the parliament was seated, however, their overall total was decreased to 63 seats, as Emad Gad filed to become an independent following internal party struggles and a court ruling stripped party member Ahmed Mortada Mansour of his seat in the Dokki/Agouza district.

The party opted not to join the majority, pro-regime Coalition in Support of Egypt and will instead work with whoever shares their views on the issue at hand in the new parliament.

Background

The Free Egyptians Party is a center-right, liberal party founded on July 4, 2011, by Naguib Sawiris, one of Egypt’s wealthiest men. The party’s official platform broadly calls for a secular, civil state, free markets, and low state interference in the lives of Egyptians. Despite being characterized as a Coptic party, Free Egyptians accepts the premise of Islam as the state religion, provided that there is a separation of religion and state and that minorities can use their own religious law to govern personal and family issues. The party also advocated for an end to military trial of civilians, an independent judiciary, social securities like a minimum wage and universal health insurance, a Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders, and improved regional and global trade and cooperation. In the 2011 elections, FEP candidates held 15 seats in parliament; 14 of these were won on party lists (as part of the Egyptian Bloc coalition, see “Party Relations”) and one party member was elected to a seat reserved for candidates running individually.

Stances

Born out of the “Committee of Wise Men,” a group of social and political leaders who aimed to facilitate communication between protestors in the January 25 Revolution and state leadership, FEP supported the goals of the revolution, but faced dissension when some members accused the party of tolerating former regime supporters in mid-2011. The party was a vocal proponent of Morsi’s ouster in 2013, supported the 2014 constitution, and declared its support for Sisi in the 2014 presidential election. FEP tends to focus on economic issues, issuing statements expressing concern about sector-based strikes and other behaviors that might threaten the freedom of commerce or the strength of the economy. It has also proposed a social economic plan based on conditional cash transfers for the poor. The group’s foreign policy stances are somewhat vague, though its members have repeatedly come out against foreign statements, efforts, or investigative reports that they believe to infringe upon Egypt’s sovereignty. They have also been supportive of Sisi’s efforts to negotiate with Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam Project.

Party Relations

In the 2011 parliamentary elections, the Free Egyptians Party was the leading member and primary funder of the Egyptian Bloc electoral coalition, a “secular-leaning coalition that [sought] to establish a civil democratic state and [espoused] values of social and economic prosperity.” Other members of the Bloc included al-Tagammu and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party. The alliance, which captured 34 seats and became the fourth largest bloc in parliament, has been portrayed as a secular coalition aimed at counterbalancing the influence of Islamist parties. The 2015 elections show only minor changes to the party’s ties within the political sphere. After much internal debate, the party decided to place 9 members on the secular, pro-regime list titled For the Love of Egypt. The Free Egyptians will also run 227 individual candidates throughout the country, determined based on polling data collected from public opinion research center Baseera, which has informed their choices of well-known candidates in individual elections.

Internal Organization

The Free Egyptians Party is internally organized into 12 different committees ranging from resources to communications. Each committee is broken down further into subcommittees, creating issue-specific groups under each larger committee heading. These groups voice their opinions in the party general conference to the 70 member High Council, the highest authority in the party. All executive positions in the party are voted upon in general elections, which are held every four years as prescribed by the party’s detailed internal regulations, except the 20 members of the High Council that the party president appoints, five of whom must be under the age of 35.

Leadership

The primary founder, Naguib Sawiris, holds one of the three mobile licenses in the country, running OTV and ONTV, along with a stake in Orascom Telecom. He is rumored to have been friendly with the Mubarak regime, though he created the Committee of Wise Men during the January 2011 Tahrir Square protests in order to facilitate more direct communication from the protestors to the state. This group subsequently evolved into what is now the Free Egyptians Party. Khaled Bishara, the Group CEO of Orascom Telecom, is also a founding member of the party. Sawiris and Bishara were joined by Farouk al-Baz, an Egyptian American scientist who worked on NASA’s Apollo program; Ahmed Fouad Negm, a dissenting poet who faced prison time under Mubarak but maintained his popularity among protesters; and Mohammed Salmawy, a journalist who has served in the Ministry of Culture and headed the Egyptian Writers’ Union and al-Ahram Hebdo (French language). On September 19, 2014, Ahmed Said resigned as president of the party. While he declared the reason to be responsibilities related to his position as the Vice President of al-Ahly Football Club, many believe it was inspired by internal party dissent. Essam Khalil is the current head of the FEP.

Banned

Overview

The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) was announced in February 2011 by established figures in the Muslim Brotherhood, one day after popular pressure forced Hosni Mubarak to relinquish the presidency. Drawing on the extensive network of Brothers throughout Egypt, the party secured 47% of seats in the first post-Mubarak parliament, and the party’s first president, Muhammad Morsi, was elected president of Egypt. However, this sweeping electoral success, the first in the Brotherhood’s history, proved to be highly divisive, increasingly pushing Egyptians into one of two camps: supporters of the elected group and their religious sensibilities, and opponents of the FJP’s control of the government and fears of Islamization of state and society during that formational period. The tension between these camps and disillusionment with the Morsi-run government finally boiled over when Egyptians took to the streets on June 30, 2013, and the military responded by ousting the former president. A subsequent court decision dissolved the Freedom and Justice Party from politics. Thus, the party will not participate in the 2015 elections.

Background

Formally founded in April 2011, the Freedom and Justice Party was established as the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. The party’s early leaders and founders were all ranking Muslim Brotherhood members, some with previous parliamentary experience under Mubarak. This strong connection to the Brotherhood gave the party an instant support base and funding network, leading to an estimated 120,000 party members by the end of 2011 and one of the best-funded campaigns in that year’s parliamentary elections, complete with TV ads and large candidate lists. These relative strengths had a large impact at the ballot box with the party claiming 235 seats in the People’s Assembly (the lower house of parliament) in 2011. This staggering electoral victory gave them 114 more seats in the parliament than their nearest competitor, the Salafist Nour Party, and amounted to 47% of the total. The FJP also dominated the elections for parliament’s upper house, the Shura Council, in January and February 2012, winning 105 of 180 elected seats. This political ascendance did not last long: On June 14, 2012, barely four months after the lower house was seated, Egypt’s high court declared the body invalid, thereby canceling the FJP’s legislative dominance. The party’s successful presidential candidate, Muhammad Morsi, attempted to revive the parliament, but did not succeed before mass protests—against his rule, the domination of FJP members of the cabinet, and the Islamists’ control of the constitutional assembly—caused the military to step in and stabilize the situation. By August 9, 2013, the FJP was banned and dissolved, followed by their leaders being arrested and their assets being seized.

Stances

Official party doctrine espouses the idea of separating religion from the state and focusing solely on promoting conservative Islamic social norms as a means of allowing Egypt to remain a multi-confessional society while enhancing its Islamic identity. This delineation of religious and political spheres is hotly debated among party critics, however. Many of them point to statements by parliamentarians connected to the party who sought to use their position in government to rewrite societal or family laws to impose conservative Islamic ideology on the state. The 2012 Constitution, drafted under Brotherhood government, defined shari’a as Sunni tradition; this action and other aspects of the constitution led to criticism of Islamization of the state. While the party’s domestic policy was somewhat inconsistent, their general stance on economy was to promote private business through a free-market model. The FJP also declared its intent to kick-start the Egyptian economy by removing corrupt, former Mubarak supporters from positions of power and thereby preventing them from leaching the profits from Egyptian business owners looking to expand. The FJP’s foreign policy was strongly in favor of state sovereignty, decrying any efforts to meddle in the internal affairs of other states. Party members have spoken vociferously against the Camp David Accords, calling the agreements a “mark of shame.”

Party Relations

Despite early synergy among liberal groups and the Freedom and Justice Party, parties became more wary of the FJP’s Islamist tendencies and perceived hunger for power and left their electoral front, the Democratic Alliance, in favor of the Egyptian Bloc, a coalition based on counterbalancing FJP interests. This mistrust was further exacerbated by the Freedom and Justice Party initially promising to seek less than 50% of parliamentary seats and not run a presidential candidate, then running for 70% of the seats in parliament and registering two candidates for the presidency, winning with Muhammad Morsi. The group also lost political support among other Islamist parties in 2012 and 2013, due to perceived FJP dominance and ahead of possible elections in 2013. After Morsi’s ouster, though, a group of Islamist parties formed the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL), comprised of the Salafist Front, the Watan Party, al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, the Building and Development Party, the Istiqlal Party, and the Wasat Party; the group campaigned and protested in favor of returning the FJP-dominated government to power. The NASL has since been banned and many of the parties originally associated with it have withdrawn from the alliance. They have not, however, reneged on their support of the FJP, and continue to avoid the formal political process.

Internal Organization

The Freedom and Justice Party is comprised of three bodies on two levels. The largest body and lower level is the General Assembly, which is made up of representatives of each governorate who are elected by party members. The higher level is comprised of the High Council and Executive Bureau, who are tasked with running the party, are chosen by the General Assembly, and make decisions based on an absolute majority system. The General Assembly and Higher Council are each elected every four years.

Leadership

The Freedom and Justice Party was announced two months before it was actually founded and its leadership was revealed, which indicates that Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Muhammad Badie  and other members of the MB Guidance Council had a hand in early party formation and leadership. The names most closely associated with the FJP in the political ring are Muhammad Morsi, a former parliamentarian and the party’s first president who later abdicated this role to be Egypt’s president; Essam al-‘Arian, a founding member of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights who served as the party’s vice-president and acting president; Muhammad Saad Katatni, the speaker of the first post-revolution People’s Assembly who beat al-‘Arian in internal elections to become the new party president following Morsi’s election; and Muhammad al-Beltagi, an experienced politician and longtime parliamentarian that became secretary-general of the party. Morsi, ‘Arian, and Katatni were all members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Council before resigning those positions to take up leadership of the Freedom and Justice Party.

Boycotting

Overview

The Strong Egypt Party was born of the presidential campaign of former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh. While the party’s early identity was largely tied to the personality of Abul Fotouh as its leader, this has recently begun to shift as the party youth have pushed for a shift toward a more institutional party structure. On February 5, the Strong Egypt party announced that it would be boycotting the elections scheduled for March 2015. On September 1, the Strong Egypt party affirmed that they would be boycotting elections, citing the political and security climate in Egypt as explanation.

Background

In July 2012 an Islamist lawyer, a leftist professor, and a presidential candidate who previously had been a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood came together to create the Strong Egypt Party. Respectively, Mokhtar Nuh, Rabab al-Mahdi, and Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh sought to build a moderate party that could balance being economically progressive while still being socially moderate. Using much of the imagery and political machination from Abul Fotouh’s failed presidential bid, the Strong Egypt Party has been advertised as a bridge over Egypt’s political rift by providing a third option to voters. Party rolls contain many former Brotherhood members, and the party supports a state based on the principles of shari’a and moderate political Islam. On September 13, a court ruling forced the Political Parties Affairs Commission to review the constitutionality of 11 parties, including Strong Egypt, on the basis of their religious ties. The Strong Egypt Party has thus walked a line between attracting those sympathetic to Brotherhood ideology and loyal to Abul Fotouh, while at the same time criticizing the Brotherhood to differentiate itself and appeal to a broader “revolutionary” audience.

Stances

Critical of former President Muhammad Morsi’s time in office after what Abul Fotouh deemed to be a failure to govern inclusively,  Strong Egypt supported the call for Morsi’s ouster, but took issue with the military’s involvement in the transfer of power, referring to it as a coup d’état. Strong Egypt opposed the constitutional referendum in 2014 (as it had in 2012), and called for a boycott of the 2014 presidential elections. The Strong Egypt Party cites the abundance of natural resources Egypt might use to improve its economic situation, strongly rejecting the idea of Egypt accepting international loans. A vague economic platform is based on the party’s adoption of the revolutionary demand for social justice, while also recognizing the need for indigenous development of private enterprise. This stance is evidenced in its support for moderate state interventionism (for instance in the establishment of a wage floor and ceiling). The group’s notable foreign policy stances include their stated opposition of the Camp David Accords, their support and recognition for Hamas in Palestine, and their belief in the impossibility of peace with Israel while continued settlement and the blockade of Gaza persists. Locally, the Strong Egypt Party has been a vocal opponent of the current electoral situation, maintaining their decision to boycott the elections from February 2015 to the present due to lack of transparency and fairness. They have also been openly critical of Sisi’s tenure as president and the state-society relations it has engendered.

Party Relations

Abul Fotouh and many party founders were longtime members of the Muslim Brotherhood, but Strong Egypt is not formally associated with the now-banned group (although the party supports the return of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party to political life). Strong Egypt’s attempt to straddle the Islamist camp and the social democratic, revolutionary groups has not won it many friends in the current factionalized political environment. Before its decision to boycott, reports had suggested that the Strong Egypt intended to run as part of the National Foundation Front, a centrist bloc, in the next election cycle.

Internal Organization

Strong Egypt shares many internal characteristics and procedures with its peers in modern Egyptian politics. The party is led by a president, elected from the general body of members. The president is beholden to not only an elected Political Bureau of approximately 15 members, but also a Supreme Council of roughly 90 party members that make up the general leadership structure of the party. Each position in this structure must be elected by a majority of party members and candidates must come from Strong Egypt’s party rolls.

Leadership

Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh is the undisputed leader of the Strong Egypt Party. As one of the party’s founders and a relatively popular candidate in the 2012 presidential elections, Abul Fotouh has tended to serve as the face of the party. Prior to his entrance into the political arena, he was a trained physician and served as the president of the Arab Medical Association. In March 2015, Strong Egypt elected Ahmed Shoukri to the head of its Foreign Relations Committee and Muhammad al-Qesas to the head of its Political Communication Committee. Other prominent members of Strong Egypt’s current leadership include Abdul Rahman Youssef, a popular poet and the son of Youssef Qaradawi, a prominent Islamic theologian, and Ahmad Imam, the head of the party’s revolutionary youth council.

Participating

Overview

The Nour Party advocates for a state based on shari’a law in the Salafist interpretation. The party is distinguished from other state-authorized Islamist parties by its open support for President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi and general opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood. Despite repeated questions as to the party’s constitutionality (Article 74 of Egypt’s constitution bans political parties formed on religious bases), the Nour Party has been a prominent actor in Egypt’s political scene, winning 111 (of 498) seats in Parliament in 2011, second only to the Muslim Brotherhood. The party showed a lack of resources earlier this year, requiring candidates to fund their own campaigns. Despite the group’s openness to the idea, only a small number of parties were open to the idea of allying with them and none followed through with this intent. This leaves the party running alone, and reports indicate they will be running for 60% of individual seats and 50% of party lists. 

After the Free Egyptians Party, the Nour Party ran the second-most individual candidates in the first phase of elections, with 91 Nour Party candidates running in all first-phase provinces. Their surprisingly disappointing results, which saw them capturing just eight individual seats in their traditional stronghold of Alexandria and Beheira, has coincided with the decision of some of their candidates to withdraw from elections. Despite this, the party still ran 70 individual candidates in the second phase of elections and a 45-candidate slate for the Cairo list race. The Nour Party gained an additional three seats through this effort, giving them 11 total seats in the parliament. This makes them the sixth-most popular party in parliament, a long fall from their electoral dominance in 2012. Currently no political group is willing to openly partner or ally with the party either.

Background

The Nour Party is a Salafist group established in the wake of the January 25 Revolution by Yasser Borhami and members of Nour’s parent organization, the Salafi Call, a religio-social movement that promotes the conservative Salafist brand of Islam. After being officially recognized by the state in June 2011, Nour became the largest licensed Salafist party in Egypt, drawing on political support largely from the urban poor and fiscal support from Qatari organizations. Despite the early reticence of its leaders to support the January 25 revolution, the Nour party promotes a platform of societal change, focusing on the slow introduction of shari’a law, wealth redistribution, and enhanced use of zakat in poverty reduction programs.

Stances

Although the Salafi Call had criticized the rule of Hosni Mubarak in principle, Nour founder Yasser Borhami discouraged Muslims from participating in the January 25 demonstrations and supported the government’s calls to halt protests at the time. Nour initially supported the presidential candidacy of Muhammad Morsi after their desired candidate, Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh (see the profile for the Strong Egypt Party) withdrew his bid; the party reversed this support, vociferously backing Morsi’s ouster in 2013. In May 2014, 93% of the party leadership voted for the party to commit its support to Sisi’s bid for presidency. Nour supported the Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party in Parliament but the alliance broke after political deals were not honored on both sides. While their party platform is ostensibly Islamist, advocating for a national economic shift to Islamic banking principles and a prohibition of secularist ideas, they present a more detailed economic plan than many of their religiously oriented peers. In the past, the Nour Party has advocated for economic measures like raising the budget for research and development to 4% of Egypt’s GDP, increasing agriculture to promote Egyptian self-sufficiency, and establishing anti-trust laws. The Nour Party has also begun vocally championing women’s issues, highlighting the qualifications of the women on their electoral lists and using the phrase regularly in the electoral platforms of their individual candidates. The party has maintained its hardline Islamist credentials on the topic, however, through gestures like not including identification photos of women on their party membership cards or photos of female candidates on campaign material. They are also not running any female candidates when electoral law does not mandate they be included. Their foreign policy platform is somewhat limited. It focuses on establishing good relations with countries in the region and protecting Egypt’s right to the Nile waters, but does not delve much deeper than that.

Party Relations

In 2011, the Nour Party ran as part of a coalition of Islamist parties, along with the Authenticity Party and the Building and Development Party. However, the Nour Party’s former allies will not run in this election. This, along with severe ideological differences with most liberal parties, has led the vast majority of parties to distance themselves from Nour. The party will then run alone in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Internal Organization

A large portion of Nour’s early, influential members came from the Salafi Call, including co-founder Yasser Borhami, the vice president of that group. This has influenced the structure of the party, which is run by a Supreme Council of 30-40 members that is elected from a General Assembly of 150-200 members representing each governorate. Not all members have the same status, however. Individuals from the public are allowed to join the party as “affiliated members,” but cannot participate in inner party workings until they have completed the necessary orientation to achieve the status of “working members.” Nour’s system of internal governance, with a strong executive body and general assembly, mirrors their preferred governmental structure, which is similar to the French system.

Leadership

Younis Makhyoun, a former dentist and member of the Salafi Call, serves as the current party leader. He was elected to this position after Emad Abdel Ghafou, the previous leader, defected from the group to join the Watan Party. Another prominent figure related to the party is Yasser Borhami, one of the founders of the party, the vice president of the Salafi Call, and a prominent Salafist cleric in Egypt. Although Borhami holds no official post in the party, he is considered to be very influential in party decisions and public mobilization.

Participating

Overview

The Social Democratic Party was formed in March 2011 as a loose network of social democratic movements. Though this bricolage approach may have complicated a unified political platform, the party has remained relatively cohesive in its vision and leadership, with a liberal, leftist, reform-minded ideology. While the party has boasted influential leadership—including former interim Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi—its ground campaign is relatively weak and it has thus relied on party alliances to enhance its electoral appeal in the past.

The group attempted to follow the same pattern for this election, entering discussions with the Wafd Alliance and Egypt Awakening Alliance, but the political landscape shifted in ways that prevented this. Now the Social Democratic Party is only competing for individual seats, running 67 candidates.

The Social Democratic Party ran 40 candidates across all provinces in the first phase of elections. They won three of these races, all within the Upper Egypt region of this election. The party said it did not expect to do well under this electoral system and would have contented itself with winning another seven seats in the second phase of the elections. Unfortunately, the Social Democratic Party’s efforts only earned it a single seat in the second phase, leaving their overall total at four members of parliament. The party has also eschewed joining the majority, pro-regime Coalition in Support of Egypt in favor of attempting to organize their own coalition. This has not yet been successful.

Background

Prior to the January 25 Revolution, a number of small, active social democratic groups had attempted to coalesce around a broad political framework and form their own party. However, it was only after the fall of Mubarak that these efforts finally came to fruition and organizations like the March 9 Movement for the Independence of Universities, the National Association for Change, and the Justice and Freedom Youth Movement successfully launched their political union, known as the Social Democratic Party. The groups reconciled their ideological differences by patterning the party on the social democratic groups seen in Latin America and Scandinavia, creating a platform that was not strictly liberal or leftist but represented a reform-minded combination of the two.

Stances

The Social Democratic Party’s platform is characterized by active foreign relations, social programs, and the promotion of small business interests. The party seeks to implement social programs like universal health insurance and unemployment benefits, but is also keen to restructure subsidy programs to prevent fiscal waste. Their business plan emphasizes the importance of a free market with some government restrictions on the private sector. According to the party, this would help eliminate the disparity between Egypt’s rich and poor by promoting small business growth over the interests of monopolistic corporations. The party platform also calls for a secular, civil state that pursues stronger Egyptian influence on the outside world, especially in the Nile basin, the Arab world, and the Palestinian-Israeli issue. The Social Democratic Party has been outspoken in its support of Palestinian liberation and national rights, advocating the application of diplomatic pressure to settle the conflict. The party, which attracted many revolutionary youth, faced internal problems when these youth criticized party leadership for their efforts to compromise with the regime. Their most contentious stance has been party representative Muhammad Abul Ghar’s 2011 statement of support for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces decision to extend the Emergency Law in return for a timetable on the transfer of power. Though Abul Ghar later removed the party’s signature from the statement, several prominent members resigned over the incident.

Network

The Social Democratic Party has vague connections with many of the larger liberal parties in Egypt today. In the 2012 election, the party was a prominent member of the Egyptian Bloc, a coalition of liberal parties aiming to counterbalance Islamist groups. The Egyptian Bloc broke down, however, when the Social Democratic Party broke off from the bloc following elections. During the long run-up to the 2015 elections, the Social Democratic Party had originally intended to run as part of the Egyptian Wafd Coalition list, along with the Wafd Party, the Reform and Development Party, the Conservatives Party, and the Awareness Party. This list also collapsed, leading the Social Democratic Party to enter discussions with the Egypt Awakening list, which eventually boycotted the elections. Because of this, the party is now only running 77 individual candidates, but says it expects to compete well in Upper Egypt.

Internal Organization

The structure of the Social Democratic Party mirrors their preferred form of governance for the Egyptian state. All leadership positions, including the Supreme Council that along with the party chair makes executive decisions, are decided by internal elections. When no party chair, or president, is elected, the Supreme Council makes decisions with a board of trustees in the chair’s stead. This creates something of an internal mixed presidential-parliamentary system, the same system the party advocates for the state. Members can also be elected to a multitude of internal councils such as the Politburo, Secretariat of Media, Secretariat of Education, Secretariat of Planning, Secretariat of National Affairs, Secretariat of Youth, Secretariat of Women, and the Local Councils Secretariat. The names, and often the contact information, for party members elected to these councils is then posted on the party’s website as a matter of public record.

Leadership

The party is currently led by activist and gynecology professor Muhammad Abul Ghar, the party chair and a founding member of the group. Abul Ghar was the founder of the March 9 Movement for Independent Universities and the spokesman for the National Association for Change. In these roles he came into contact with many of the party’s other founding members: Ziad al-Eleimy, a lawyer who played an important role in the Revolutionary Youth Council; Farid Zahran, a publisher who took part in the Egyptian People’s Committee for Solidarity with the Palestinian Intifada in 2000; Hazem Beblawi, an economist with experience as the Egyptian deputy prime minister and finance minister; Emad Gad, a former member of parliament and political analyst; and the late Samer Soliman, a political science professor and leftist activist. These figures were critical in conducting negotiations on behalf of the Social Democratic Party within the Egyptian Bloc Coalition. Growing polarization within the party recently caused Abul Ghar to tender his resignation as party head. He was, however, convinced to stay on until the party could elect a new president. While party elections will occur in early October, the internal election for the president has been postponed until after parliamentary elections finish, leaving Abul Ghar at the helm for a few more weeks.[/tab][/tabs]