Carnegie Report tries to make sense of Egypt’s electoral process
A new guide issued by The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace provides background and analysis to Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. The guide profiles political personas from opposition movements exploring factors which influence Egypt’s electoral process. A detailed analysis is also included highlighting 10 years of Egypt’s politics including details of previous legislative elections.
According to the report provided in both English and Arabic, the November 29 parliamentary elections may be just one more chapter in Egypt’s pitiful electoral process.
“The ruling National Democratic Party will get at least two-thirds of the seats, assuring its control over any future amendments to the constitution”
The report discusses the oppositions’ status during the elections highlighting that
“Opposition candidates are already facing more difficulties in campaigning than they did in 2005, Egyptian civil society monitors have every reason to fear that they will not receive full credentials and access to polls, and international observers are once again being rebuffed”.
The report cites that Egypt is facing something more significant than the elections stating that its authorities are under external pressure to conform to demands for political reform. Authorities however argue that Egypt is undergoing reform stating that
“The system is being reformed, but at a pace that suits the conservative nature of Egypt and avoids instability”.
NDP representatives however allege that there have been two significant changes since 2005 which may improve this year’s elections being, the establishment of an electoral commission and the creation of a 64-seat quota for women in the People’s Assembly.
Although an electoral commission without doubt should be an improvement according to the report they are inadequate in number to supervise the more than 50,000 polling stations. Former experiences indicate that the electoral commission has made a dismal showing so far, allowing the widespread exclusion of opposition candidates during the June Shura elections failing to facilitate the work of civil society monitors
The report goes ahead to discuss the oppositions’ stance on the need
to participate in the parliamentary elections, where opposition groups have failed to reach popular consensus on the merits of participation in 2010.
“Competing calls for either boycotting or participating in the elections clearly reveal the challenges and limited opportunities inherit in the model of constrained political reform that has governed Egyptian politics in recent years”.
While The Ghad Party, National Democratic Front party, and the National Association for Change have decided to boycott the elections the Wafd party and the Muslim Brotherhood which is recognized as the most organized and capable opposition groups in Egypt have decided to participate.
Those participating justified their decision to participate on four grounds.
“Boycotting would exclude opposition parties and movements from the core of political life, namely electoral competition and parliamentary participation. Second, it would weaken the opposition’s popular presence and organizational capacity by depriving it of the opportunity for direct interaction with voters and rejuvenation of party cadres involved in electoral campaigns. Third, boycotting runs the risk of allowing the NDP full reign over the elections. And finally, by participating, the opposition can document electoral transgressions and demonstrate to the domestic and international audience the regime’s failure to ensure the transparency of the elections, thereby dispelling myths of democratic legitimacy.
The Report warns that the 2010 parliamentary elections will renew the tension between challenges and opportunities for Egyptian opposition groups, stressing it should be watched closely. It concludes that
“With the country anticipating a period of presidential succession, the parliamentary elections are worth following for yet another reason. At this crucial juncture, the elections offer a valuable opportunity to understand the regime’s preferences on striking a balance between stability and the urgent need for reform”.
Carnegie Guide To Egypt’s Elections Site