In Blow to Al-Baradei, Brotherhood to Run Candidate List

In Blow to Al-Baradei, Brotherhood to Run Candidate List


Rejecting calls by former IAEA chief and opposition leader Muhammad Al-Baradei to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has decided to run a list of candidates for the upcoming elections. The decision is a blow to Al-Baradei’s efforts to challenge long-time incumbent President Hosni Mubarak.  

At a news conference held on Saturday, Brotherhood leader Muhammad Badi’ announced that his party will vie for thirty percent of the 518 seats in parliament in the November elections.  

The Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition group, is officially banned in Egypt. However, in the previous parliamentary elections held in 2005, Brotherhood members running as independent candidates won 88 seats, one-fifth of legislature.  

"We are facing a state of corruption and confusion unprecedented in Egyptian history," Badi’ announced Saturday. "We therefore decided that the Muslim Brotherhood must announce its participation in the upcoming elections for the People’s Assembly." 


Badi’ said that the decision to participate was supported by 98 percent of the Brotherhood’s consultative assembly, adding that the candidates’ names will be announced in coming days.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s decision is widely viewed as a break in its alliance with Dr. Al-Baradei, who publicly called for election and constitutional reform as a prerequisite for participating in the elections.  


"This is definitely a setback for Dr. Al-Baradei," Dr. Gamal ‘Abd Al-Gawad, director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, told The Media Line. "This decision gives political legitimacy to the upcoming elections." 


"The Brotherhood’s decision stems from a utilitarian point of view," ‘Abd Al-Gawad said. "They have no guarantees the elections will be transparent, but they figure they will be worse-off if they don’t participate."  

‘Abd Al-Gawad predicted that the Brotherhood will fare worse in the November elections than it did in 2005. 

"The aura the Brotherhood enjoyed in 2005 is no longer there at the same level," he said. "They were strongly represented in the last parliament, but their performance was not impressive."  


"The Brotherhood’s capacity to use the fact that they are a new party on the scene has declined," ‘Abd Al-Gawad added. "Many voters see them as a regular political force rather than the ‘saviors of Egypt.’" 

Egypt is considered one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East since the 1979 U.S.-brokered Camp David Peace Accords between Israel and Egypt. According to the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, between 1979 and 2003, the U.S. has provided Egypt with $30 billion in economic aid and an equal amount in military aid, making it the second largest recipient of military aid after Israel.   


Dr. Maye Kassem, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo, said there was little chance that an Islamist achievement in the elections would destabilize U.S.-Egyptian relations, since President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) would never allow opposition parties to gain real political clout. 


"The ruling party never won less than three quarters of the seats in parliament," she told The Media Line. "The NDP will never allow any opposition group to gain a majority in parliament." 

Kassem added that in the 2005 elections, many voters decided to cast their ballot for the Muslim Brotherhood as a protest vote against the NDP, which will not be the case in these elections.


"Now, people are more focused on the presidential elections in 2011, so the idea of a protest vote isn’t as strong," she said.


Dalia Ziada, director of the American Islamic Congress in Cairo and an opposition activist, lauded the decision of the Muslim Brotherhood to run. 

"I support the participation of every party in the elections, to expose the real face of the government," she told The Media Line. "Even though I do not agree with the Brotherhood’s ideology, I believe it will be healthy to show people that there are alternatives to the current regime. At the end, the people will decide."  

Ziada added that the Brotherhood’s decision will contribute to election transparency. 

"The participation of multiple parties will mean more monitoring of the process, preventing election fraud and forgeries by the ruling party."