CAIRO: As the Egyptian parliamentary elections draw nearer, the banned Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is considering boycotting the upcoming electoral race for seats in the People’s Assembly (PA).
In a statement to the independent daily, Al-Masry Al-Youm, member of the Muslim Brotherhood Parliamentary bloc, Hamdy Hassan, said that if the MB were to abstain from participating, it would be to strain the government into holding “free and fair elections.”
Several opposition fronts announced they are also discussing refraining from participating in the upcoming elections. However, only the Democratic Front Party, also known as Al-Gabha, has announced its intentions to abstain, according to Essam Al-Arian, member of the MB’s executive bureau.
The decision to participate or abstain is still being examined by the MB, as well as other political parties, Hassan told Daily News Egypt. However, no official statements have yet been made.
“We study every decision we have to make, and now we are still studying whether or not we will be participating in the parliamentary elections,” said Hassan. “The [MB] is a big political force in Egypt. The general policy is that we participate in all elections.”
The Shoura Council elections, held early last month, sparked controversy as several fronts accused the Supreme Electoral Committee of poor monitoring of the election processes, and claimed that there were many violations throughout the campaigning and voting periods.
The MB had 15 candidates in the race for Shoura Council seats. They lost, however, to a majority of National Democratic Party (NDP) candidates, and some opposition and independent candidates.
However, Diaa Rashwan, political analyst at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Planning said that the banned group’s loss in the Shoura elections is no reason for them to decide to boycott the elections, as they had lost the same way in past years, and “for the time being they are more focused on the PA and not the Shoura or locals.
“The Muslim Brotherhood will not make such a decision,” Rashwan said, “The decision to boycott the elections depends on the decisions of two other parties, Al-Wafd and Al-Tagammu. If those two parties don’t abstain, then the Brotherhood will not boycott. It’s a historical fact.”
Rashwan said the MB’s history shows that they only boycotted the parliamentary elections once in 1990, but only because there had been a national agreement between the different political parties.
El-Arian also confirmed the need for unity in order to make such a decision.
He said that the decision to boycott depends on the agreement of “the entire national force.” He added though that he does not think the boycott will come to pass.
Although banned since 1954, MB-affiliated politicians occupy 20 percent of the seats in the current formation of the PA. Hassan said the group “is an important addition to the Egyptian political domain,” seeing as it is the largest opposition force in the country and in parliament. Their participation in elections is therefore important, he said.
“Elections are an important political affair for the Brotherhood, and it’s very important for them to go through with it. The boycott holds no political gains,” said Rashwan. “If the MB boycott, it will be a decision with absolutely no outcomes and no effect on internal or external politics.
“I assure you the MB will not abstain from participating in the elections. It has never happened before, and they will never put themselves in such a position except if all political opposition fronts make that decision,” he continued.
Candidates affiliated with the MB run as independents in electoral races because the group has been banned from organizing as an official political party since 1954.