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Emerging Secular Coalitions and Parties
Many attempts to form political and electoral alliances have been made by Egypt’s secular and liberal forces following the inauguration of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood–affiliated president, Mohamed Morsi. Many parties and public figures have shifted their allegiances several times, and the political landscape remains unclear and divided. Some political personalities have sought to form or join more than one movement simultaneously, creating a complex and confusing landscape.
Lately, many parties and figures who have launched coalitions of their own have pledged to come together under the banner of the Egyptian Patriotism Alliance to unite the secular voice against the proposed constitution and the ruling Islamist government. The outcome of that project remains in doubt.
Egyptian Popular Current (EPC)
The Egyptian Popular Current (EPC) is a national political movement founded by former presidential candidate and Nasserite leader Hamdeen Sabahi. The movement presents itself as a counterbalance to the ruling Islamist government and pledges to unite secular organizations across the political spectrum to challenge the Islamists in the coming parliamentary elections.
The movement was officially launched on September 21, 2012, in a mass rally led by Sabahi and other secular public figures, including:
- Hussein Abdel Ghani: Prominent pro-revolution journalist
- Hamdy Qandil: Prominent pro-revolution journalist
- Kamal Abu Eita: Head of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions
- Mostafa El-Guindy: Prominent politician and former member of parliament in 2011–2012
- Abdel Hakim Abdel Nasser: Grandson of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser
The EPC’s founding document states that the movement is driven by the revolution’s goals of freedom, social justice, and dignity. It also contends that the first round of Egypt’s presidential elections demonstrated that the EPC has a strong popular base of support. The movement’s leader, Hamdeen Sabahi, received the third-highest number of votes after the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi and Mubarak-era holdover Ahmed Shafiq.
The EPC lists the following three objectives as preconditions for realizing the revolution’s goals and achieving a “comprehensive Egyptian renaissance”:
- A democratic political system in the framework of a national, civil, and modern democratic state that respects the sovereignty of the people. A state based on a new constitution that enshrines all public freedoms; achieves separation of powers; rebuilds the state’s institutions; guarantees the independence of the judiciary; guarantees the freedom of press, innovation, thought, and belief; provides equality between citizens in rights and duties; and establishes the rule of law and institutions.
- Social justice based on radical societal transformation brought about by a comprehensive development project that guarantees equal opportunity, sufficient production, and just distribution. The project will protect national wealth from waste and corruption and guarantee economic and social rights for all Egyptians, including the rights to food, housing, healthcare, education, employment, just pay, insurance, and a clean environment.
- Dignity that is protected by an independent state that will recover Egypt’s leading role in the Arab, Muslim, and African worlds. A state that will build a new international bloc to stand against rapid globalization and support the legitimate right to fight occupation whether in Palestine, Iraq, or elsewhere.
The EPC’s mission is to build a popular base and actively nominate candidates to compete in local, parliamentary, and presidential elections. The movement also seeks to found companies and civil society groups that will work on development projects and provide services to citizens in order to connect with the largest possible segment of the Egyptian population.
The EPC has been fairly active since its founding and has organized and participated in numerous protests mostly directed against the performance of the ruling Islamist government. The movement has yet to present a clear electoral strategy since it has largely focused on the constitution-drafting process and raising public awareness against what it believes is an Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly.
The Egyptian National Alliance (ENA)
The Egyptian National Alliance is a broad liberal coalition that includes former general secretary of the Arab League and former presidential candidate Amr Moussa, the al-Wafd Party, the al-Ghad Party, the Democratic Front Party, and nearly 50 other public figures and intellectuals. The ENA was formally announced to the public by Amr Moussa and al-Wafd Party Chairman Sayyid al-Badawi in a joint press conference on September 20, 2012.
The alliance’s founding document states that it aims to establish a stable, democratic, and civil state and not merely oppose one political faction. It also references the guiding principles of the 1919 and 1952 revolutions and declares that the ENA seeks to:
- Spread the values of democracy and the principles of the civil and modern state.
- Stress citizenship and the rule of law.
- Oppose any authority that seeks to strip citizens of their rights.
- Support the drafting of a constitution that establishes a modern democratic state that guarantees justice, equality, and basic rights and freedoms to all citizens.
- Establish social justice with responsible free-market policies.
- Preserve the Egyptian identity and oppose any faction that threatens to break the fabric of society or marginalizes any segment of society.
- Participate in legislative and municipal elections that are based on election laws that guarantee equal opportunity.
The ENA has yet to outline an electoral strategy, and it is unclear whether it will join other coalitions. The ENA does not formally merge the parties and figures involved into one legal entity but rather provides an umbrella group for them to come together and strategize. This is largely due to the fact that the al-Wafd Party wants to preserve its historic name and thus has repeatedly stated its opposition to joining any liberal coalition not under its direct leadership.
The Egyptian Conference Party (ECP)
The Egyptian Conference Party is a yet-to-be-registered party formed by former general secretary of the Arab League and former presidential candidate Amr Moussa and head of the al-Ghad Party and longtime political opposition leader Ayman Nour. The ECP seeks to fully merge different parties and figures into a single party with one leadership (as opposed to the ENA, which includes parties that do not wish to give up their sovereignty). The ECP was formally announced on September 18 when liberal and leftist parties pledged to unite under the leadership of Amr Moussa.
The party has yet to officially list an organizational structure, but the following people are among the most notable figures involved with the party:
- Amr Moussa: President of the ECP
- Ayman Nour: Spokesperson for the ECP and president of the al-Ghad Party
- Yehyia El-Gamal—public figure and longtime politician
- Osama al-Ghazali Harb: Founder of the Democratic Front Party
Over 25 parties have pledged to join the ECP, some of which may be “observers” that are still deliberating. However, there is no evidence so far that any party has been disbanded and legally become part of the ECP. The most important parties that have pledged to merge are Ayman Nour’s al-Ghad Party and al-Ghazali Harb’s Democratic Front Party because they are two registered parties. The ECP also notably includes offshoots of former president Hosni Mubarak’s now-dissolved National Democratic Party, such as the Conservative Party, the Freedom Party, and the Egyptian Citizen Party.
The party is yet to publish an official platform, but statements by Amr Moussa, Ayman Nour, and al-Ghazali Harb indicate that the party seeks to:
- Reform the political process in Egypt and prepare strong candidates to compete in elections.
- Coordinate between political powers based on civil and liberal principles.
- Demonstrate a commitment to democracy that is based on complete equality between citizens.
- Ensure the independence of state institutions from the hegemony of any one political party.
- Write a constitution that guarantees freedom, dignity, and justice for all citizens.
- Establish a strong Egyptian economy that is based on fair competition and the protection of consumer rights.
The ECP says it wishes to model itself after the Indian National Congress Party and is building its base to become a strong contender on the Egyptian political stage.
The party has largely kept a low public profile, briefly joining protests organized by the Egyptian Popular Current and the Constitution Party on October 19 to protest the performance of the ruling government before some of its members were chased away and attacked for allegedly having ties to the old regime. ECP President Amr Moussa is a notable member of the Constituent Assembly along with party spokesperson Ayman Nour, and they are heavily involved with the drafting of the new constitution.
The Egyptian Patriotic Movement (EPM)
The Egyptian Patriotic Movement was founded by former Mubarak prime minister and presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq on September 17, 2012. The movement is in fact an unregistered political party that seeks to unite secular parties and figures with the goal of creating:
- A balanced society that accepts diversity
- A society that is open to the world
- A leadership that protects Egypt, aspires to peace, and believes Egypt is for everybody
The founding members of the EPM are:
- Ahmed Shafiq: Leader of the EPM, now living in the United Arab Emirates because of corruption cases filed against him in Egypt
- Mohamed Abu Hamid: Founder of the secular Hayaat El-Masryeen Party and former member of parliament in 2011–2012
- Saad Eddin Ibrahim: Public intellectual
- Wahid Hamed: Influential screenwriter
- Mohamed Abul-Azayem: Sufi leader
- Ibrahim Darwish: Constitutional scholar
The founding document of the EPM states that the party seeks a modern, civil, free, and leading Egypt that would make every Egyptian proud and strongly emphasizes the Azhari Islamic traditions on which Egyptian society is based. The EPM strongly opposes the ruling Islamist government and accuses the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party of adopting the negative tactics of the dissolved National Democratic Party.
The party seeks to build on Ahmed Shafiq’s support base that won him 12 million votes in the June presidential elections, and it is still in the process of gathering the required signatures of support before applying for official party recognition.
The Democratic Revolutionary Coalition (DRC)
The Democratic Revolutionary Coalition was founded on September 19, 2012, as a broad coalition between ten leftist parties and movements to unite the voice of the Egyptian Left.
DRC founders claimed it was critical for the Left to unite because Islamists’ attempts to turn Egypt into a religious state threaten the revolution’s success and the country’s identity. The founders explicitly criticize the Muslim Brotherhood, which they consider to be a rival. They point to the Muslim Brotherhood’s accusations leveled against workers on strike and the rejection of these workers’ demands.
Key founders and members of the DRC include:
- Kamal Khalil: Co-founder of the Workers and Peasants Party
- Ahmed Bahaa El-Din Shaaban: Secretary general of the Egyptian Socialist Party
- Adel El-Mashad: Founding member of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party
- Salah Adli: Leader of the Egyptian Communist Party
Parties and movements that have pledged to unite under the banner of the DRC include:
- The Egyptian Socialist Party
- The Socialist Popular Alliance Party
- The National Progressive Unionist (al-Tagammu) Party
- The Workers and Peasants Party
- The Egyptian Communist Party
- The Democratic Popular Movement
- The Egyptian Coalition to Fight Corruption
- The Socialist Revolutionary Movement
- The Socialist Youth Union
- The Mina Daniel Movement
The DRC has stated its commitment to work with any political party in Egypt except members of the old regime or those close to the military. Although the DRC has announced its intention to join the Egyptian Popular Current and the Constitution Party, there has been no reported response from these two groups.
The DRC has no official platform but largely seeks to fight for socialist principles of workers’ rights, equal pay, and equitable wealth distribution. Although the coalition has had no active political presence yet, it has been participating in protests against the ruling Islamist government to demand the release of political prisoners and to oppose economic policies like the acceptance of the proposed IMF loan.