Last week I wrote wondering at the possible outcome of the upcoming parliamentary elections given that the electoral scene in Egypt teems with parties of uncertain ideologies and individual candidates with indistinguishable political views. Will the ballot box, I asked, bring in a parliament with a healthy majority that could take the lead and a strong opposition that would make sure the majority does not sweep the scene?
It is hard to get answers at this point. In all probability, voters heading to the polls will select their representatives according to personal preference rather than basing on their political inclinations or party platforms, since these are far too similar to act as tools for comparison.
The political and partisan scene over the past year-and-a-half has been rife with discord, differences and alliances which at times made little or no sense. Even now after the final lists of candidates running for the parliamentary elections have been approved by the Supreme Elections Committee, the scene reminds me of the 1970s renowned comedy Madrasset al-Mushaghibeen (School of the Troublemakers) where the key players were characterised by reckless behaviour and lack of vision. Hopes have been dashed for a robust national coalition that would strongly stand in the face of any Islamist political stream that may sneak into parliament. Yet in defiance of the Constitution, Islamic-based parties are still contesting the elections, under the pretext that there is nothing to prove they are Islamist. The Committee for Party Affairs has thus failed to exclude from political activity parties with Islamic reference.
Again, it is hard to predict the outcome of the elections. Very possibly, the parliamentary cake will be divided among the contenders into so many thin slices that it would be impossible for any political body to gain sufficient parliamentary weight, let alone majority. At this point we will witness another round of the pre-election scene; there will be attempts to create parliamentary coalitions to attain a majority and form a government.
Will the same Madrasset al-Mushaghibeen scene persist? The same bargains, skirmishes, conflicting interests, convergence and divergence; the aim being a scramble to reassemble the tiny pieces of the cake into one big chunk? Can Egypt and her political leadership sustain such chaos or suspend parliamentary activity?
I hope we do not have to go through this disgraceful scenario once more. And I really wish that all who win seats in the upcoming parliament would have matured and become sufficiently responsible to form a strong balanced national parliament that would translate the Constitution into laws, achieve the hoped-for legislative reform, and monitor the performance of the executive authority.
I hope the curtain closes on Madrasset al-Mushaghibeen and the political scene moves on to Al-Eyal Kebret (The Kids have Grown Up)—another popular comedy of the late 1970s. The responsibility of representing the people in parliament is a serious one and is definitely no picnic. It is a national responsibility and must be honoured; national interest should come above narrow benefits. One party leader recently said: “If we have failed to form coalitions in preparation for the elections, let us then contest the elections each on his own, for everyone to know his true weight on the political map. When we then meet in parliament, it will be easier to unite and rise above the squabbles. Each of us should have by then known his actual weight and the size he won of the cake.”
The quote offers a glimpse of how fragile our party map is. Yet we still have a chance to contain matters and achieve what we were not able to before. That is if the curtain really goes down on “The School of the Troublemakers” and the contenders prove that “The kids have Grown” … and matured.
27 September 2015