Opposition criticizes official party’s stranglehold on media
CAIRO: The ruling party is planning an aggressive campaign to promote its policies and proposed amendments to the constitution, announced the website of the National Democratic Party.
Aly El-Din Helal, the secretary general of the NDP media committee, said party officials have already started visiting different governorates to communicate the message to other party members in preparation of promotional meetings with the public.
But political analyst Amr Hashem says the media campaign is a reflection of the NDP’s failure to communicate its policies to the public.
“If NDP policies were reflecting popular demands, the party wouldn’t have to organize a promotional campaign, Hashem told The Daily Star Egypt.
The ruling party has largely relied on state-run media for the promotional effort. The spread of credible independent media outlets and the increased use of Internet as a news source – mainly bloggers – have recently contested the effectiveness of state-run media in spreading news and promoting policies.
Credibility of state-run press, TV and radio has been challenged. Criticism is mounting for these media outlets not just for unbalanced coverage of the ruling party at the expense of other oppositional forces, but also for promoting NDP and pro-government policies at all times.
The NDP meeting, which stressed increasing promotional activities, also highlighted the role of party-produced newspapers in communicating NDP policies. Party headquarters in Menufiya, Beni Suef, Sohag and Fayoum have already started publishing this type of paper, the party website reported.
Hashem expects, however, that this won’t exceed a temporary promotional policy. This is directed at the proposed constitutional amendments, “which need to be changed altogether, not amended, he said.
President Hosni Mubarak gave a speech about the proposed amendments last week but didn’t provide details as anticipated.
Except for a few publications with relatively less distribution than state-run ones, the opposition has fallen short in any media contest.
“The problem is that opposition parties work from offices and not from the streets . The street doesn’t know much about them, Hashem said.
The exception remains the Muslim Brotherhood, who has caught attention with their pro-media approach to the political scene. According to Hashem, they have been more active, more organized and more in contact with the public, when compared to other opposition forces.
He expects the Brotherhood will increase their media role and primarily their efforts in the parliament to push for their version of constitutional amendments.
At the heart of the constitutional amendment debate are articles 76 and 77 that cover presidential elections and term renewal. For the time being, the two articles limit candidacy to NDP due to requirements only attainable by the ruling party.