CAIRO: Only one percent of the 925-person sample of Egyptian youth aged 18 to 35 could identify the correct number of political parties in Egypt, revealed a poll carried out by the Cabinet Information and Decision Support Center.
“The reason there is such a low level of political participation from the youth is because political life in Egypt has been hampered since July 1952, commented Nabil Abdel Fattah, a researcher at Al Ahram Center for Strategic and Political Studies.
The aim of the poll was to measure the level of youth awareness about existing political parties in Egypt and to identify the reasons why young people do not join them. It also gauged their opinions on the role of political parties in the society.
According to the poll’s results, only seven percent of participants are members of political parties, the majority belonging to the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).
But the activist and blogger known as “Sandmonkey, is skeptical of such findings. “They can never get accurate numbers because many youths might be members of underground groups, he told Daily News Egypt. Not having enough time for politics topped the list of reasons given by participants for not joining political parties. Sixty-one percent said they lacked the motivation to join any of the existing ones, while only 31 percent expressed a desire to join any political party.
“All of them [the existing political parties in Egypt] are drowning in problems, whether internal ones pertaining to leadership disputes and organization or because of the laws regulating political parties that make it very difficult for them to function, said Sondos Tarek, a political science student, who is not politically active but would like to join a political party.
“The youth in Egypt have neither trust nor hope in politics. They also feel intimidated by the state if they become activists, Cynthia Farahat, a writer and civil society activist, told Daily News Egypt.
“Another obstacle facing youth in existing political parties is that they have no important positions in the organizational structure. They are undermined and labeled with incompetence because of their age, said Farahat, who experienced this when she was a member of the Egyptian Liberal Party.
Students often complain that the majority of Egyptian universities do not encourage political discussions among students or allow them to express their political views freely on campus.
“At public universities security guards could take you straight to a police station if you’re caught discussing politics on campus, said Sandmonkey.
“But things are changing slowly, for example, a few days ago when Belal Diab interrupted [Prime Minister] Nazif, they only took him away for 30 minutes.
To invigorate more political participation by youth, Farahat recommends that the state “protect young political activists, she said. “If they have peaceful political views then it is their right to get security from the state.