CAIRO: A number of coalitions comprising major parties from across Egypt’s political spectrum are discussing the possibility of contesting elections under a unified list.
The coalitions include the Egyptian Bloc, Third Road Coalition and the Democratic Alliance. The aim of their collective alliance is to prevent remnants of the disbanded National Democratic Party (NDP) from winning parliament seats.
"There are political parties that were established after the revolution by previous NDP parliamentarians, and we must unite so that they don’t get the chance to re-enter parliament," said Ahmed Shokri, one of the founders of the Justice Party, the initiator of the Third Road Coalition and a sponsor of the unified list initiative along with Al-Wasat Party.
Shokri said that even if these preliminary talks are fruitless, they will still coordinate.
The coalitions held their first meeting on Saturday; but participants said reaching an actual agreement is unlikely.
"I believe it will be very difficult as we need to face the obstacles which lie in the mechanisms of forming unified lists. Who will be the guarantor of the agreement and under which umbrella will it be?" said Ahmed Saeed, member of the presidential council of the Free Egyptians Party — part of the Egyptian Bloc.
Waheed Abdel Meguid, head of the electoral coordination committee at the Democratic Alliance, said the alliance is studying the issue and are open for coordination with anyone.
"We are ready to coordinate but we won’t contest the elections in another coalition," he said.
The Democratic Alliance, comprising 34 political parties, denied earlier its participation in any meetings and said that it will not enter any electoral alliances except its own.
"We welcome anyone to join us but none of the coalition members participated in any meetings [to discuss a unified list] and we are still discussing electoral coordination mechanisms," said Mohamed Al-Beltagy, representative of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) at the Democratic Alliance.
Abdel Meguid said these were only discussions, not official meetings.
"We received an invitation to participate in discussions; however we demanded some guarantees that it will not be under the umbrella of the Muslim Brotherhood, that it will ban the use of religious slogans and commit to whatever we agree on," Farid Zahran, member of the higher committee of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party — another member of the Egyptian Bloc.
"None of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) members attended; it is nothing more than an initiative by the Justice Party and Al-Wasat Party who thought that the FJP agreed to attend," he added.
Meanwhile, political parties continued their preparations for elections.
Zahran said that they are still choosing their candidates and are planning to field 200 candidates.
"We will be counting on new faces because all powerful experienced candidates are either NDP or MB," said Saeed.
He said that they are still conducting interviews with applicants for candidacy but are awaiting the final constituencies’ distribution.
The Egyptian Bloc’s parties are set to present their candidates lists by Sep. 19 before they are filtered and a unified list will be formed.
Abdel Meguid said that the Democratic Alliance has not yet agreed on the parties’ candidates’ proportions in the unified lists.
"We are still receiving parties’ lists and are discussing with parties’ heads and will issue our candidates’ final list by next week if we can finish it by then," he said.