Test of fairness

Test of fairness, Slama A Salama 
      “NDP is fielding as candidates officials who have been tainted by serious
charges. … viciory for the Old Guard … and,
    against all expectations, the NDP has failed  to field adequate numbers
of women or Copts.”

As political parties name the candidates selected to contest the People’s
Assembly elections the country is moving into a new phase, one in which an
increase in vitality is coupled with a sense of foreboding. … ..
Much will hinge on the government fulfilling its pledges to ensure the
elections are free and fair. This, in turn, will depend on the legal
supervision and strict monitoring of the poll. The government must refrain
from interfering in the process of the campaign and instruct officials, at
all levels, to refrain from voicing support for National Democratic Party
candidates or placing obstacles in the path of other parties. Regardless of
the outcome of the elections the National Democratic Party will be judged on
the fairness — or otherwise — of the poll. We can only hope that
government pledges do not evaporate in the heat of the battle.
Ten opposition groups have joined beneath the umbrella of the National Front
for Change (NFC). This is a positive move. The NFC will be presenting voters
with a common list of candidates, and campaigning on a joint programme. The
formation of the NFC has lent credibility to the opposition and may even
catapult the country into a new democratic era that could end the
monopolising of power by a single party.
This is not to say that the NFC and NDP don’t have a number of problems in
common. Each must navigate a path through a tangled web of interests. Each
must chart a course through the morass of pay-offs, nepotism and inherited
privilege. Unlike long- standing Western democracies the NDP, as the ruling
party, cannot claim any independent political legitimacy. It cannot claim to
be moved by democratic principles. It cannot claim to be inspired by any
political or social vision. This is why the NDP press sounds so silly when
it claims the NFC is weak and likely to fall apart at any time.
And here is the true test for the NFC — it needs to survive the ill will of
the ruling party. It needs to stick together during and after the elections.
This, in turn, means it must avoid quarrels with the Muslim Brotherhood
(MB). It is clear that the ruling party is using the tactic of divide-
and-rule. The NDP clearly feels threatened by the MB, which is fielding 170
candidates and can mobilise votes for and against any given candidate.
The NDP, in an act of amazing single-mindedness, is fielding candidates in
all constituencies. It might have made a gesture to other parties by leaving
them a constituency or two but such a thought did not cross the mind of NDP
strategists. As things stand the NDP is running against all other political
forces combined, which displays a certain amount of arrogance.
.  .  .
… NDP is fielding as candidates officials who have been tainted by serious
charges. … a victory for the old guard. Also, and against all
expectations, the NDP has failed to field adequate numbers of women or
The battle is on and is likely to become more heated, especially if
President Hosni Mubarak becomes personally involved in the campaign. The
government is seen as biased towards the NDP and must prove to the
opposition that it is not. The government needs to defuse, not poison, the
political atmosphere.