By Omnia Al Desoukie and Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: For political forecasters, the Egyptian political scene in 2011 is not expected to change, with the new parliament set to tighten the government’s grip. Many predict that the rule of only one party will unlikely lead to peaceful change but will rather prompt violence and sectarian strife.
“The absence of a real parliament will lead to more dubious connections between money and politics and lack of social justice and responsibility,” said Mohamed Khalil Kwaitah, former NDP MP.
The recently elected parliament is set to discuss controversial laws like the anti-terrorism law, the medical insurance law, and the decentralization law among others.
“Many of the suggested legislations are in line with the government’s policies and interests which don’t enjoy public support,” Hamdy Hassan, head of the MB parliamentary bloc in the previous parliament, said.
“Forty-nine members of the current parliament come from security organizations whether police or military, as well as nine ministers and 64 female MPs from the women’s quota, almost all affiliated with the NDP,” Amr Hashem Rabei, political analyst at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said.
This, Rabei argued, will facilitate the issuance of these laws, because “it’s mainly the government speaking to the government.”
“With the opposition outside parliament, it will be extremely difficult to have access to documents that assist the opposition in its role in monitoring the government,” Kwaitah said.
According to analysts, the absence of an opposition putting pressure on the government will have repercussions outside parliament.
“This would create political tension and a more radical opposition that would move its activities to the streets and would exploit the silenced anger of the people,” Hassan Nafa’a, professor of political science at the faculty of economics and political science at Cairo University, said.
“The electoral slaughter of the opposition in such a scandalous manner will most certainly serve to revive radical political trends and violent tendencies, both in and out of the official parties and political groups, and especially among Islamists,” wrote Bahey El-Din Hassan, the director of Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies in a commentary to a local newspaper.
In March 2009, when President Hosni Mubarak underwent surgery in Germany, many expected this to be his last term.
Wikileaks documents released in mid-December also suggested that Mubarak is grooming his son Gamal to become president, however several high ranking officials rejected the idea of succession.
Analysts argue that the US administration turns the other cheek on the political scene in Egypt since the country plays a vital role in facilitating talks between the Israeli and Palestinian sides.
Lawrence Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, previously told Daily News Egypt, “What the US is going to do is it’s going to say, this is up to the Egyptians. That the US is looking to have stability. We’ve recognized that elections don’t lead to democracy and if the Egyptians have a fraudulent election, we’ll speak out. In the final analysis we have to deal with whoever is in power.”
Korb admitted that in the US there was a tug of war between democratic ideals and having those in power be amenable to American interests, indicating that if a group like the Muslim Brotherhood for example was to ever assume power in Egypt, the US would reconsider its relationship.
Meanwhile, analysts agree that the candidacy of an opposition leader for president in this year’s election is far-fetched. Egypt’s parliament has an important role to play in orchestrating the presidential elections and endorsing candidates.
“The victory of the National Democratic Party in the parliamentary elections means that whoever the NDP fields in the presidential elections will face no challenges,” Rabei said, echoing the sentiments of several other analysts.
Experts agreed that unifying the opposition front is the only answer for the opposition to impose change.
Abdullah El-Ash’al, international politics professor at the American University in Cairo, said the opposition should become one bloc and join forces with the public and stop being concerned only with their personal motives.
However, El-Ash’al concluded that the crackdown on opposition leaves no room for the public.
“This parliament’s main task is to facilitate the process of electing the upcoming president and thus was set to perform it,” Hassan said.
According to Hassan, the NDP had plans to give a number of seats to opposition parties but the “heated” inner conflict between the party’s old and new members forced each side to make sure their candidates are in power on the expense of the opposition.
“No one will be able to run in the presidential elections and the government won’t modify the constitution unless the opposition can unify itself and mobilize mass activity in the streets,” Nafa’a said.
Some analysts described measures like forming a parallel parliament as “ineffective.”
“Things like these are for media propaganda rather than for imposing real change amidst a regime that monopolizes authority with a firm grip,” Rabei said.
A parallel parliament can only be effective, Hassan said, if major political parties like Al-Wafd join in and lay down a comprehensive strategy.