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Al-Karama, a leftist pan-Arab, nationalist, Nasserist party, was founded in 1996 by Hamdeen Sabahi, a former parliamentary representative of the Democratic Arab Nasserite Party, who had defected from the group over disagreements with its then president, Diaeddin Daoud. Al-Karama has socialist tendencies and calls for political pluralism. During the Mubarak era, the party denounced the government for monopolizing political power and restricting the activities of opposition groups. After the January 2011 uprising, al-Karama allied with the Freedom and Justice Party–led Democratic Alliance and was one of the few secular parties to remain in the coalition at the time of the People’s Assembly election.
Major Party Figures:
Hamdeen Sabahi: President and founder
Amin Iskandr: Leading party member and founder
Kamal Abu Eita: Leading party member
Al-Karama petitioned the Political Parties Committee for legal status during the Mubarak era without success. In 2002, the committee rejected al-Karama on the grounds that the party’s platform was not unique enough to distinguish it from existing opposition groups, and in 2004, the committee again denied the party legal status because it allegedly “espoused a radical ideology.” Once again, al-Karama sought legal status in 2006, but the committee denied the request for the same reasons cited in 2002. In August 2011, the party finally gained legal status.
In the 2000 parliamentary elections, al-Karama leader Hamdeen Sabahi ran as an independent candidate and won a seat. In April 2009, al-Karama joined the Egyptian Coalition for Change, an alliance that included the Kifaya movement, the April 6 Youth Movement, al-Wasat, and individual members of the Muslim Brotherhood. After the uprising, al-Karama joined the Democratic Alliance for Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, and although the party considered leaving the alliance as did most other secular parties, it remained part of the coalition through the November 2011 parliamentary elections, winning six seats. Sabahi ran as a presidential candidate in the 2012 presidential elections, finishing third behind Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik.
- Supporting a hybrid presidential-parliamentary system and expanding the powers of the prime minister
- Fighting corruption in government and creating institutional mechanisms to enhance transparency
- Supporting decentralization in Egypt through devolution of power to local councils and governorates
- Revitalizing the political process through constitutional reforms that promote pluralism
- Supporting a strong public sector and corruption-free bureaucracy
- Advocating for a social market economy with central economic planning and national state capitalism
- Enacting a minimum and maximum wage and linking wages to prices
- Alleviating poverty through the equitable redistribution of resources
- Investing in scientific and technological research to promote innovation
- Implementing a progressive tax scheme while attracting Arab investment and remittances from Egyptians abroad
Foreign Policy Issues:
- Opposing Western interference in Egyptian affairs
- Respecting international agreements and complying with the decisions taken in public referendums, which may then need revision in order to protect Egypt’s national interests and guarantee its independence