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A short summary since the outbreak of the Arab Spring
Former president Hosni Mubarak has been in power for 30 years and was removed from office during the Arab Spring. Dissatisfactions over corruption, lack of freedom of speech, economic issues as food price inflation, high unemployment, low wages and the enrichment of the ruling elite were the reasons for the protests. On 11 February 2011 it was announced that Mubarak had stepped down. After this announcement the first free elections were being held. The winner, Mohamed Morsi, was removed from power after one year of ruling by the Egyptian Armed Forces, led by General al-Sisi, after days of mass street protests calling for him to step down. After his removal Morsi was put under house arrest. The Egyptian youth movement Tamarod has played a major role in initiating the street protests and was supported by the National Salvation Front, April 6 Youth Movement and the Strong Egypt Party. On 17 July 2013 the interim cabinet was sworn in by Egypt’s interim President Adli Mansour. The interim technocratic government was led by Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi and Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaaeddin, two members of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP).
In the following months, a lot of supporters of former president Morsi’s party the Muslim Brotherhood, were sentenced to prison or death. The military has branded the party a terrorist organization. In March 2014, 529 members of the party were sentenced to death. One month later, 37 members were sentenced to death and death sentences for 682 others were recommended. These are the most striking cases, but more people were sentenced to prison and death. Further, a lot of protests and car bombs took place in the first half of 2014. Recently elected president al-Sisi argued that “The Brotherhood would cease to exist” during his presidency. This could lead to more clashes in the near future.
Presidential Elections 2014
On 26 and 27 May 2014 Egyptian voters could cast their ballots for the presidential elections. Because the turnout was low on the 26th, the government declared a national holiday on the 27th, which they had hoped would lead to a higher turnout. In the end, 47% of the country’s 54 million people, voted. This percentage is lower than expected. 96.91% voted for al-Sisi.
Egypt could chose between two candidates: former field marshal al-Sisi – he quit the army in order to run - and left-wing former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi. Candidates who run in the 2012 elections did not run this time because “the climate was not conductive to democracy following a crackdown on Islamist and other opposition groups.”
Sisi gained 96.91% of the votes. Despite his victory, Sisi still has to meet expectations of the voters who currently back him. This will be a difficult task, due to the amount of “poverty, unemployment and other social problems.” Al-Sisi is aware of this and said at the beginning of May 2014 that people “should lower their expectations for change”, Egyptians should not expect “instant democracy or rapid economic reforms.” He further argued that shared sacrifice is a necessary condition. For al-Sisi’s supporters these statements show that he is “a decisive man of action”, while his opponents argue that these “are signs of a new autocrat in waiting.” Sabahi conceded his defeat but said the official turnout figures were too high and were “an insult to the intelligence of Egyptians.”
The international community had some remarks as well. Democracy International (DI) said the decision to extend the election into a third day was “just the latest in a series of unusual steps that have seriously harmed the credibility of the process”. It also “raises more questions about the independence of the election commission, the impartiality of the government, and the integrity of Egypt's electoral process”, DI added. A team of EU observers said that, despite guarantees in Egypt’s Constitution, respect for the essential freedoms of association and expression “falls short of these constitutional principles.”
||Number of votes
|Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Presidential Elections 2012
On 23 May 2012 the first free and democratic presidential elections were held in Egypt. The voter turnout was 46.42%. After the first round a definite winner could not be determined, therefore a runoff took place between Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq on 16 and 17 June. The latter encountered a lot of opposition, being criticized as a remnant of the Mubarak regime - having been Prime Minister between 29 January and 3 March 2011, while others see him as the person who was most likely to bring stability. Consequently, the period between the two election rounds was marked by polarisation, tumult and repeated protests.
The second election round proceeded less organised than the first round, as the two presidential campaigns exchanging accusations of electoral fraud. Furthermore, illegal campaigning in front of polling stations, vote-buying, influencing voters to choose certain candidates and arranging votes for military and police personnel were reported.
The day after the elections the Muslim Brotherhood immediately declared their candidate, Mohamed Morsi, the winner of the run-off. In reaction, Ahmed Shafiq did the same. However, it took a week before the results were announced: Morsi won by 51.7% of the vote.
People’s Assembly elections 2011-2012
The elections for the new PA took place in multiple stages. On 28 November, 14 December 2011 and 3 January 2012 the Egyptians cast their ballot for the lower house elections. On each ballot, voters had to vote for a national party list and a local candidate in a first-past-the-post-system. Two-thirds of the 498 elected seats were filled based on the party lists and a proportional system, and the last one-third through the local candidates. An additional 10 politicians were chosen by the military chief.
On 29 and 30 January, Egyptians held the first round for the Shura Council, the upper house, in elections that will be staggered in two stages. The second round took place on 14 and 15 February, with run-offs on 22 February. The PA and the Shura will then appoint a 100-member council that will draft a constitution; a constitutional referendum will be held and eventually elections for a new president will take place.
The final results of the election for the People’s Assembly (PA) were revealed on 22 January 2012. The Islamists performed extremely well in the lower house polls, obtaining over two-third of the votes. The social democratic parties, like other non-religious parties, won only a few seats. The Egyptian Bloc Alliance received 6,7 % of the votes, of which the Egyptian Social Democratic Party is part of. The Revolution Continues Bloc garnered only 7 seats, an alliance comprising among others the Socialist Popular Alliance Party and the Egyptian Socialist Party. The head of the military council chose 10 politicians directly. Among these were 5 Coptic Christians and 3 women, who are the only women in the parliament. In total, over 27,000,000 people voted.
Constitutional referendum 2014
On January 14 and 15, Egyptians voted for the first time since the ouster of President Morsi in a two-day referendum on a new constitution. The new charter replaces the constitution passed under Morsi months before he was overthrown. The new constitution was drafted by a 50-member committee that included only two representatives of Islamist parties. The Muslim Brotherhood, however, was not represented. An Islamist coalition led by the Muslim Brotherhood called for a boycott and “civilized peaceful protests” during the two-day referendum. Many of Egypt’s secular opposition joined the protests against the government and the new charter. Nine people were killed on the first day of voting in clashes between security forces and those who opposed the new constitutional amendments. The Interior Ministry said 444 people were arrested during the two-day vote.
On January 18, the Supreme Electoral Committee announced that 98.1 percent of Egyptians voting in the referendum approved the amended national charter, with a turnout rate of 38.6 percent. The new constitution will boost military powers, allowing the army to appoint a defense minister for the next eight years. It also allows civilians to be tried before military courts. It also stipulates that the military's budget will be beyond civilian oversight. Critics said the new constitution will strengthen state institutions that defied Morsi: the military, the police and the judiciary at the expense of the people.
US-based Democracy International (DI), the largest international organization who monitored the referendum, criticized both the political climate of the referendum and the actual undertaking of the vote. DI monitors expressed “serious concerns” about the political climate, which virtually guaranteed a Yes vote. “There was no real opportunity for those opposed to the government’s roadmap or the proposed constitution to dissent,” the statement noted, citing “a backdrop of arrests and detention of dissenting voices”.
Constitutional referendum 2011
Around one month after the revolution in February, on 19 March 2011, Egyptian voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum on constitutional changes that will usher in elections.
The changes included a restriction of the presidential terms from six years to four years and a limitation of two terms for the president. There would also be less restrictions for the nomination of a presidential candidate, and judicial supervision of the entire election process. The highest court would get the authority to arbitrate disputed election results and there would be restrictions on when the President can declare a state of emergency.
During the period between 1922, when Egypt formally gained its independence from the British mandatory power, and the revolution of 1952, Egypt experienced an era of relative political openness in which a certain measure of party pluralism was developed. The most famous party in this period was the Wafd party, which was founded in 1918 as an Egyptian delegation that pleaded for complete Egyptian independence from the British. In January 1953, all political parties were disbanded and a one-party system was officially adopted. The ruling party would be called the Liberation Group (1953-1956), the National Union (1956-1962) and the Arab Socialist Union (1962-1976), respectively.
In 1976, former Egyptian President Sadat called for the Arab Socialist Union to be split in three parts :the National Progressive Unionist Organisation on the left (later the Tagammu), the Egypt Arab Socialist Organisation in the center (later the NDP), and the Liberal Socialist Organisation on the right (now al-Ahrar, the Liberal Party). In 1977, a new law stated that parties should not be formed on ethnic, racial, geographical or discriminatory bases due to sex, origin, religion or creed. Two parties that did obtain legal status were the Wafd Party (now known as New Wafd) and the Socialist Labour Party. One more party , the Nation Party, was legalised in the 1980s, while the last 20 years have seen the creation of around 14 new parties, bringing the total at the end of Mubarak’s rule to around 20. This system has allowed presidents Sadat and Mubarak to claim that Egypt enjoyed political pluralism and even democracy, while at the same time it manipulated the system to ensure continued supremacy of the NDP.
After the fall of Muburak, many parties that more closely resemble this western model were established. Also, many former non-active parties came back to the political scene with renewed vigour. In total, over 50 parties and more than 6000 independent candidates have been participating in the elections.
Egyptian Social Democratic Party
Party Leader: Mohammed Abou El-Ghar
The Egyptian Social Democratic Party was founded shortly after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak by the merger of two minor parties, the Egyptian Democratic Party and the Liberal Egyptian Party. The party straddles a fine line between free enterprise and social justice. It advocates a civil state based on citizenship and social and economic rights are important issues. It was the largest member of the Egyptian Bloc Alliance in the 2011/2012 parliamentary elections, which positions itself as a secular, left-wing alternative to the Islamist parties.
Party leader: Mohamed Rifat Al-Saeed
The Tagammu’ Party, or the Nationalist Progressive Unionist Party, was created in 1976 out of the left wing of the Arab Socialist Union. It is a leftist party which calls for the establishment of a socialist society free of exploitation. It believes in a class struggle that should be resolved peacefully and bases its programme upon the goals of the 1952 revolution. The most important goals are rejecting religious extremism; building the character of the Egyptian citizens; ending the state monopoly over the media; raising awareness of environmental issues and developing Egyptian industries. While the party once enjoyed strong support from the working class, professional unions, universities, and intellectuals, its influence among these groups has since waned. It is a minor partner in the Egyptian Bloc Alliance, that competed in the 2011/2012 elections.
Freedom and Justice Party
Party leader: Saad el-Katatni
Seats: 213 (the Democratic Alliance of which the party is member obtained 235 seats)
On 30 April 2011 Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) officially announced the formation of the Freedom and Justice Party to contest up to half the seats in the parliamentary elections and to become a major force in the country’s post-revolution politics. The party succeeded in its goals, gaining nearly half of the seats in the lower house in the 2011/2012 elections. It was the largest member of the Democratic Alliance.
Mohammed Hussein, the Brotherhood’s secretary general, said at a press conference that the party will be independent from the MB, but will “coordinate with it.” Mohammed Morsi described the platform of the Freedom and Justice party as civil, but with an Islamic background that adheres to the constitution and democratic principles. “It is not an Islamist party in the old understanding, it is not theocratic.” He indented to allay fears that the Freedom and Justice Party would be dominated by religious ideology and Islamic conservatism. Furthermore, the Muslim Brotherhood also declared that it does not object to the election of women or Copts in cabinet, but it said that both are unsuitable for presidency. The group supports free-market capitalism, and the party’s political program includes tourism as a main source of national income.
The Muslim Brotherhood struggled for more than eight decades to form a legitimate political party. Under the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood was barred from politics and mentioned as a terrorist organization that threatened the country’s democracy. In 2005, the MB became the largest group in the opposition bloc by its independent candidates winning 20% of the parliamentary seats. However, in 2010 the group did not win more than one seat in the November election that was regarded as rigged in favour of Mubarak’s ruling party NDP.
Currently, the FJP has been banned and their Muslim Brotherhood movement has been decleared a terrorist group by the interim government. President al-Sisi announced that the group will not exist anymore under his ruling.
Egyptian Popular Current
Party leader: Hamdeen Sabahi
The Egyptian Popular Current is a leftist party and was created after the 2012 presidential elections by presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi on 21 September 2012. He came in third in the 2012 elections and second in the 2014 elections. During his opening speech, Sabahy called for his newly formed party to attract all Egyptians. The party is in favour of achieving social justice by instituting minimum and maximum wages in the public sector, the guarantee of personal and political freedoms, the establishment of a strong democratic system, the adoption of an independent foreign policy entailing, among other features, the reestablishment of Egypt's historical role as a leading regional power and stringent opposition to interference in Egypt's domestic affairs by various world powers. The structure of the movement is essentially decentralized. As of 2013, there are two principal bodies that the movement consists of: the 17-member executive bureau and the 60-70-member council of trustees.
Party Leader: Emad Abdel Ghaffour
Seats: 111 (the Islamist Alliance of which the party is member obtained 124 seats)
Al-Nour is a Salafi political party founded after the January 2011 uprising. Salafism is an orthodox branch of Islam which sees the first generations of the followers of the prophet Muhammad as examples for how all aspects of life should be organized. The party advocates gradual reform under the slogan: “The only reform we desire is the reform we can achieve.” This slogan is based on a view of the principles of Islam as a comprehensive framework for religion and state.
Party leader: Sayyid al-Badawi
The Al-Wafd, created in 1978, is essentially a continuation of the pre-1952 Wafd Party. It is a liberal capitalist party that calls for public freedoms and a maximum reduction of the economic role of the state. It encourages Arab and foreign investment, the liberalisation of foreign trade and the exchange rates, privatisation of certain parts of the public sector. Most of the Wafd economic ideas had been taken over by the former NDP. On the issue of political freedom and democratic reform, however, the Wafd is much more liberal than the NDP used to be. Although the party has lost influence over the last 20 years, the Al-Wafd is often regarded as a strong opposition party. This is due to the legitimacy of the old Wafd, the possession of greater financial resources than other parties, and the several offices throughout the country. The Al-Wafd is attempting to portray itself as an alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood.
The dissolved National Democratic Party
Former party leader: Hosni Mubarak
The National Democratic Party was officially founded in 1978 as a continuation of the central part of the Arab Socialist Union. According to its program the party was committed to the ideals of the 1952 revolution. Apart from ending the monarchy and British dominance, these ideals were the implementation of agrarian reform, nationalization of key industries, a one-party state, and closer ties with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. It is clear that the NDP’s proclaimed continuing loyalty to these ideals existed on paper only. The NDP was officially committed to political freedom, social justice, and implementing democracy. However, the party was ideologically extremely weak. It lacked further ideological direction which could define it as either left or right, and it did not even live up to its own rhetoric. It was, thus, more a framework of regime domination than a traditional political party.
On April 16 2011, Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court officially relegated the once-supreme National Democratic Party to history, ruling that the party would be dissolved and its assets seized by the government.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Former head of the Egyptian Armed Forces, minister of defence
Abdul Fatah al-Sisi was born on 19 November, 1954 in Cairo. He graduated from the Egyptian military academy in 1977 and continued training in the United Kingdom, Egypt and the United States. Under Mubarak’s regime Al-Sisi served as a military attaché in Saudi Arabia. In August 2012 Al-Sisi was appointed as Head of the Egyptian Armed Forces and as Minister of Defence by Morsi. Despite some accusations of being too close to the Muslim Brotherhood he presented himself and the army as “guardians of the people’s will”, following nationwide protests in June 2013. He played a leading role in the military coup of July 2013, which ousted Morsi when he did not meet to the army’s ultimatum to the government and its opponents to resolve the country’s crisis within 48 hours. Al-Sisi remained on his post as Defence Minister in the interim government.In the beginning of 2014 he resigned from his post in order to run for president. He was elected president in June 2014, after it was announced that 96.91% of the votes where in his favour.
Leader of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party
Mohamed Abul-Ghar was born on July 2, 1940 in Shibin El Kom in Egypt. He received his doctoral degree, specialized in obstetrics and gynaecology, in 1969 after he studied medicine at the Cairo University. He became a gynaecology professor and established Egypt’s first specialized medical centre for assisted fertility in 1986. Abul-Ghar became actively involved in politics during the rule of Mubarak and founded along with other university professors the ‘March 9 Movement for the Independence of Universities’ against the security control on Egyptian universities, in which he is currently still active. Abul-Ghar was directly involved in the anti-regime opposition before the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 as coordinator and spokesperson for the National Association for Change (NAC) led by Mohame El-Baradei. After the 2011 revolution Abul-Ghar founded along with some other Egyptian political activists the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP) and became its leader.
Leader of the Egyptian Popular Current
Hamdeen Sabahi, born on 5 July 1954, is an Egyptian politician, journalist and poet. He is currently the leader of the Egyptian Popular Current and a co-leader of the National Salvation Front. An opposition activist during the Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak eras, Sabahi was jailed 17 times during their presidencies for political dissidence. He was an immediate supporter and participant of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. He further founded the Nasserist Karama (Dignity) Party in 1996. During that time Sabahi ran as an independent and not as the Dignity Party's candidate. One of the few secular figures without any ties to the regime of Hosni Mubarak, Sabahi has attracted the support of several leading Nasserists. Sabahi is running under the slogan “one of us” which highlights his strong ties with the working class and advocates his socialist aspirations. During the presidential elections of 2014 he was opposing al-Sisi and won 3.09% of the votes.
Mohamed Morsi was born on August 20, 1951 in Sharqiya, located in Northern Egypt. He studied engineering at the Cairo University and later in California, after when he began working as an assistant professor at the California State University. In 1977 Morsi became a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which played a major role in the Egyptian nationalist movement. The Brotherhood was forbidden to nominate candidates for office according to policies implemented by former President Hosni Mubarak, therefore Morsi served as an independent when he was a Member of Parliament from 2000 to 2005. He was arrested several times under Mubarak’s regime for various protests, together with other Brotherhood leaders. Morsi later served as a member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau and in 2011 he founded the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), for which he served as president.
In 2012 Morsi became the first democratically elected president in Egypt’s history, the first Islamist to lead an Arab country, and Egypt’s first leader from outside the military. In his victory speech on June 24 2012, the 60-year old Morsi urged Egyptians “to strengthen our national unity” and promised to be a president for all Egyptians. Therefore he gave up his Brotherhood membership. However, as president, Morsi granted himself unlimited powers for ‘protection’ of the nation from the Mubarak-era power structure. He also declared his orders were beyond the scrutiny of the country’s judges until Egypt had a new constitution, which was nullified after protests. Morsi’s actions, along with the economic decline it caused, sparked much outrage including public protests throughout the country. By the end of June 2013, mass protests erupted across Egypt calling for Morsi’s resignation, followed by an army ultimatum requiring the president to share power or to step down. On July 3, 2013 Morsi was officially ousted as president by Egypt’s armed forces and placed under house arrest. Morsi has been prosecuted for inciting deadly violence. Currently his trial is pending.
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