Egypt’s 2024 presidential election is obviously the main concern of Egyptians today; talk about the topic dominates social media. Especially in focus are candidates on the political and party scene who aspire to run the presidential race and win the most prestigious topmost post of the power pyramid in Egypt. Noteworthy is that the person who earns that post does not only represent its ceremonial and prestigious aspects, but carries the responsibility of political and national security issues with all the huge weight these entail regarding local and foreign policies, and attaining the balance of Egypt’s strategic interests in various fields.
In this context, winning the presidential race is not just about seeking the topmost power post in Egypt; but candidates must own all the elements that would qualify them to confront the challenges of meeting national security requirements on all levels be they political, security, economic or social, on both local and foreign levels. These incredibly high and critical criteria have the potential to distinguish the rightfully eligible candidates from those who are merely power hungry.
As I open this issue that has long been shelved, I recall a talk President Sisi had in 2017 with the chief editors of Egypt’s State-owned papers. The President had then expressed his aspiration that political parties with the similar agendas and political views (right, middle, or left) should merge in order to create a few strong political blocs capable of addressing Egyptian needs and producing calibres that qualify for power rotation. Today, six years later, where are we from that?
Sadly, nothing developed on that front. Political parties have not taken any initiatives to change the fragmented party map, nor to create strong political blocs that promise to produce any worthy calibres who could contend the presidential race and partake in peaceful, efficient power rotation.
With this in mind, we ought to question political parties on how each of them envisages its responsibility in producing political figures able to contend and win elections, and to seriously engage in the process of power rotation.
Based on this, it is imperative to evaluate the constitutional clause that secures the freedom to form a political party merely by notification. The outcome is that we are now saddled with more than 100 political parties that form a feeble and fragmented party map lacking all political, national or partisan common grounds to connect its members. Under this climate, political parties have become lone disconnected islands, each looking for a role it cannot figure out.
The greatest national challenge facing this fragmented political scene is to form coalitions or mergers that gather likeminded parties in robust political blocs able to interact with Egyptian voters in the context of political and national effort. Only then will political parties earn the privilege of addressing the Egyptian people with the reassurance that they have earned their support.
I still believe that if Egyptian parties do not live up to their responsibility, it is the historic obligation of the committee of political parties foundation, which alone holds the constitutional power to ensure the right to form parties, to take matters into hand. The committee should call on Egyptian parties of similar political leanings to align with one another under one of five wings: right; right centre; centre; left centre; and left. Once formed, these entities could address the Egyptian street each according to their political leanings and agendas in various political, economic, social and cultural aspects, in a way that would create public opinion that either supports or opposes these blocs.
Without this mechanism and without these coalitions, we cannot guarantee a national climate to be reckoned with in order to produce candidates worthy of taking over the leadership of this country.
1 September 2023