Democratic Front Party not a Harb monopoly, says analyst

Daily News Egypt
3 Min Read

CAIRO: Rumors that the newly-licensed Democratic Front party’s leadership will be dominated by the Harb family have been blown out of proportion, political analyst at the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies Amr Hashim told The Daily Star Egypt.

Hashim downplayed recent speculation on whether the Harb family of Osama El Ghazaly Harb, one of the founders, will dominate leadership positions in the nascent party.

“I was with [Dr. Osama] the day before yesterday, and he dismissed these claims, saying that it was a mistake made by Secretary General Mohamed Mansour who nominated some of Harb’s family members to head some of the party’s committees, Hashim said.

Shoura Council appointee and chief editor of El Ahram’s International Politics magazine, the party’s vice president Osama El Ghazaly Harb, resigned from the National Democratic Party’s (NDP) influential Policies Committee in March 2006, due to what he said was its “insincerity in implementing reforms.

Although Harb’s wife, brother, and nephew helped establish the party, Hashim believes that “in a developing nation like Egypt people will assume that they were nominated due to their relationship to Harb not because of their abilities. Therefore it might be better to avoid their nomination altogether so as not to tarnish the party’s image, Hashim said.

Analyzing the prospective future of the Democratic Front party in the Egyptian political arena, Hashim believes the “political climate in which the party operates must be kept in mind.

“It is a climate burdened with numerous legal, constitutional, and even realistic obstacles, Hashim said.

Vague articles in the recent constitutional amendments allow for political gerrymandering by the regime, said Hashim.

“Article 62 of the 2007 constitutional amendments prevents coalition building in parliament among all independents and limits it to political parties, Hashim said.

This amendment, which Hashim believes to be a direct blow to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, will also affect any Marxist or Nasserist forces in parliament, who have not officially formed a political party.

One problem with the Democratic Front, according to Hashim, is that it has not yet built a wide support base, despite the fact that it enjoys a sound democratic organizational structure and seemingly solid finances.

“I think it is more important to form a popularity base before getting licensed as a political party. You need the support of blue collar communities that can defend the party against attacks by political rivals, Hashim said.

Last June the Democratic Front party elected former minister and professor of constitutional law Yehia El Gamal as president.

El Gamal was among the first to criticize the lack of amendment to Article 77 of the constitution, which kept presidency terms open to more than one term.

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