The recent merger of the two civic, non-religious parties; the Free Egyptians and the Democratic Front; has given rise to much relief among liberal circles and those worried about which way the upcoming elections would go. The merger is a good first step, and it is to be hoped that more mergers and coalitions would follow among other civic, non-religious political parties who label themselves as liberals. A coalition is needed that would be sufficiently strong to rally Egyptians behind it in the upcoming elections.
It is no secret that, prior to the merger of the Free Egyptians and the Democratic Front, the obvious fragmentation of the liberal streams had caused no little frustration and distress among Egyptian political circles. The possibility of uniting ranks in order to face the challenges of the post-30 June Revolution which overthrew the Islamist regime of Muhammad Mursi, and to implement the ‘Roadmap for the future of Egypt’ lay in doubt. The new constitution currently being drafted, even though it is officially an amendment of the 2012 Islamist constitution, will be put to public referendum and requires huge rallying. But the more serious challenge will come right on its heels, the rallying for the parliamentary and presidential elections. There is pressing need for one coalition that unites strong, mindful parties to field a single candidate or list to represent the liberals and avoid fragmenting the vote. If lack of coalition results in a vote fragmented among various liberal parties the only winner will be the more organised camp—possibly the Islamists.
It would be misleading to assume that the 30 June Revolution which rid us of the Muslim Brothers’ (MB) rule has utterly wiped out the MB, and that the scene is clear for the supporters of the modern, civic, democratic State. True, the MB have been defeated on the political front and a large portion of their supporters left them after their ugly face was uncovered. The MB conspiracy against Egypt and the terrorism they have inflicted upon Egyptians for daring to topple them from power has gained them countless enemies. Yet there is no guarantee they will not plan a comeback through the legitimacy of the ballot box, and attempt to restore the political or parliamentary gains they lost.
Let us not deceive ourselves with fantasising that the seemingly superficial conflict among the MB leaders, youth and followers, or among the MB and other Islamist streams are radical conflicts that would stand between them once it is election time. The outcome of the last parliamentary elections and the referendum on the 2012 [Islamist] constitution is the best example that side conflicts, verbal debates and mutual accusations melt in front of the polls. When the time comes, strong coalitions will unite the different Islamist streams in order to rally their supporters towards the sought-after victory.
Honourable Egyptians who took to the streets on 30 June and who later celebrated the deliverance of Egypt from the rule of MB should be well aware that their work is not over, and that they should not abandon the scene. It is not my intention to overstate the perils that lie ahead, but neither do I discount them. Egyptians should powerfully rally for the upcoming referendum on the constitution for it to successfully pass. Let me remind you that the 32 per cent of the voters who rejected the referendum on the 2012 Islamist constitution failed to impose the will of the masses and their numbers paled in front of the votes which supported the Islamist constitution. This means that, in order to ensure a reasonable majority this time, at least a 60 per cent vote is required.
The parliamentary elections that should come on the heels of the referendum call for a strong warning against the fragmentation of liberal political parties, and should push for unity and coalition. A momentous challenge awaits the majority in the first post-30 June Revolution parliament; it will be charged with forming the cabinet and running State affairs. It will also be responsible for implementing the legislative reform stipulated by the new constitution. And a similar challenge awaits the liberal parties and voters when it is time for the presidential elections that should follow.
It is not my wish to daunt Egyptians or frighten them of the peril that lies ahead; rather to awaken them and make them aware of the fact that the challenge to save Egypt is still very much alive.
13 October 2013