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What are the political factions currently operating within Egypt?

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Farid Zahran

Farid Zahran

All political systems throughout the world must include large, dominant political parties, and small, opposition parties. These parties must be rooted in legitimacy and capable of engaging in dialogue regarding the foundations of political life and the relationship that exists between citizens and the state.

Such dialogue is successful when it is rooted in specific principles and beliefs that are agreed upon by all. In such a scenario, radical parties may be prevented from participating in political life due to their extremism. Such parties, despite their loud clamour, may in fact be quite weak, and non-representative of large swaths of society, however if they are allowed to grow and develop outside the framework of a country’s legitimate political institutions, they begin to pose a threat to the system itself, which will then in turn be obligated to work to bring such parties into the political fold.  For such a process to succeed, such parties must be pushed and encouraged to moderate their policies, and adopt more mainstream principles regarding political compromise and dialogue. We are aware that such a process will take time if it is to have any real effect on those political parties or the political system itself.


On that note, we are called to reminisce on the state of Egyptian politics stretching from 24 January 2011 until now.


During the reign of Hosni Mubarak, the political landscape was limited to the National Democratic Party (NDP), whose members and institutions were all associated with the country’s deep state. Some parties sought to carve out a space for themselves on the sidelines by engaging in intermittent skirmishes with the NDP, which oftentimes dealt with such parties using the logic of carrots and sticks, however other times resorted to intransigence and neglect.


Cosmetic changes were often applied to other, “cartoon” parties in an attempt to put a pleasant face on the country’s political landscape. The NDP (or as it should be referred as, the Egyptian state) was not beyond openly dealing with Egypt’s armed Islamist groups, while at the same time preserving the news outlets of the Muslim Brotherhood, which constantly sought in vain to somehow enter into the country’s political fray. In vain, because the NDP only sought to engage with, or rather use the Brotherhood, in specific circumstances.

First, to combat the country’s leftists, second, to undermine western calls for democracy by claiming that Islamists posed a threat to Israel’s security, and lastly to combat armed, radical, religious groups. The relationship between the Brotherhood and NDP during the reign of Mubarak was characterised by both sides seeking in some way to use the other, laced with intermittent periods of alliance and bloodshed.

After the overthrow of Mubarak, elements of society began to engage in dialogue regarding the makeup of the political landscape, with some openly calling for the dissolution of the NDP. It soon became clear that religious parties would come to makeup a large portion of this landscape, along with liberals, leftists, nationalists and social democrats, while members of the old regime, along with armed, radical, religious groups, would be excluded from the process. In time however, it became more clear that the divide which existed between those who advocated for the creation of a religious state, and the proponents of a secular, civilian model, was too wide for any form of long term stability to be implemented. Such parties could not agree on a common political framework, with voices on both sides claiming that dialogue with the other was useless, with some going so far as to say that doing so amounted to treason. Egypt’s political landscape became officially split between those who supported civil or religious parties, a fact which eventually led to the outbreak of the 30 June revolution.


Dialogue on the nature of the political environment began once again following the events of 30 June, dialogue which is still ongoing. A general consensus has been reached that the Brotherhood should be excluded from the political landscape as long as they remain under the leadership of those who advocate violence and terrorism.


In this respect, two separate schools of thought have emerged. The first believes that all religious parties should be excluded from Egypt’s political process, and not just those who advocate on behalf of violence. Others have asked whether or not the system should be allowed to incorporate those who would seek to re-establish a regime similar to that which existed before 25 January 2011, in addition to those who would seek to go back to the days before 30 June.

About the author

Farid Zahran

Farid Zahran is a publisher and writer. He is the co-founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party

  • Reda Sobky

    Egypt needs an ALL Egypt Coalition lead by somebody like Hegazy from the center but supra party in posture to lead from the middle and mediate between the constituent parties to reach a unifying platform. It needs to include a vision for a just and competent society able to unify itself and reorder its processes so as to achieve a level of social organization consistent with modern production requirements. The initial period will certainly include major growth based on a return of production to higher levels and if reasonable rules for sharing the fruit are promulgated, increased investment will occur. Egypt has always liked leaders who want to include everybody and go beyond narrow party needs, so far to no avail but now the stage is set for such a personality to come forward and satisfy the people by exhibiting good governance based on competence and less on loyalty, Egypt is poised for the big leagues but can it organize itself into a production unit with a high level of predictability or must it languish with its energy sapped by social political churning. How about challenging all parties to issue a white paper to the public showing what they view as priorities and how each expects to achieve them. The future based discussion and discourse need to commence and I thank you for opening it now in the post June 30 sun of freedom, at once a privilege, a right and a responsibility to all generations to come, Egypt is at a bifurcation of historic proportions and everybody needs to marshall their energy to deal with it wisely and inclusively so the challenges can be met. ALL Egypt working together can do it and this generation knows it.

    • mtayli

      You are right %100. But unfortunately people of the east decide with their emotions not with their logic. in Tunisia there is natonal coalition government including all sides but still some groups are calling for military as they saw what happened in egypt. people still thinks power is everything. you can see this in personal relations, if there is a problem people try to solve it with force or fight, dont think to apply law. Because they trust their or allies power than power of law. situation is the same on national scale. You are ruled how you are.

      • Reda Sobky

        They are this way because it has worked for them in the past. Egypt is at an evolutionary tipping point which can be summarized as a bifurcated choice between continuing the pattern you mentioned and the tragedy of a disorganized society remains or moving to a more accountable pattern in which evaluative and critical thinking skills (Tafkir takiimy) are applied to arrive at a higher level of function with a higher level of authentic performance and transparency that is subject to ethical considerations. There is a temptation to just assemble the manifestations of the occurrence rather than actually having the occurrence happen and allowing it to manifest to others in an authentic way. A higher level of social organization and accountability is needed for Egypt’s success as a productive society in a global workplace. It feels at times that the “make believe” element is over represented. I am hopeful that part of the evolutionary challenge facing Egypt today is the very thing you point out in which everything is some kind of power play rather than an examination of merits and factors and making the best decision possible at the time. We see others who have transcended this predicament, why can’t Egyptians too.

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  • Ahmed Bata

    Islamists are treasonous from a patriotic lens. They gave parts of egypt to Sudan, were going to give part of sinai to gaza,nd gave the suez canal corridor to quatar with no government, but only presidential, oversight. Those would have lead to loss of Sinai. It was slowed by halting work on the other salam canal. Emirates in Sinai, and south egypt. It is all ok for Islamists that want a Caliphate, instead of the sovereign Republic of Egypt. A republic that hasn’t had an Islamist government since the ottomans. That is why Erduan of Turkey and the USA are going nuts over the loss of Morsy. MB and Islamist leadership need purged and destroyed. Their followers need educated and given the choice of repenting into patriotic Egyptians or non-citizen Islamists. Egypt is sovereign and no foreign power or plan will take that away. Next on agenda is repair all the ignorance and poverty allowed to fester under Mubarak, that has enabled the creation of human sheep.

  • abdul .a. shaiky

    The King Frouk of the great EGYPT was the king of Egypt and Sudan.!!
    Since Gamal nasir, Egypt has one party secular democracy and lost two wars with Israeal.. 1948 and 1967.
    Now Egypt should have a multi party true democracy. A BALLOT BOX NOT STREET POLITICS.!! WHO STARTED.!?
    King SIsi should free Morsi and come back to ballot box with secular party, Christian party, Islamic party and Muslim brotherhood and see who win.!!

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