Approximately 37 political parties and 42 groups have decided to form a new electoral coalition called “Egypt’s Unity” ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections.
The coalition, launched by Tayyar El-Istiqlal (the Independence Current), announced in a Monday press conference that it had raised EGP 35m for the purpose.
The coalition, led by Ahmed Al-Fadaly who is also head of the Association of Muslim Youth, said the alliances “come in response to the president’s calls for unity”, referring to a January meeting with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi with political party leaders.
Al-Sisi had told political representatives that the state was not endorsing any specific political groups, but that it could do so if “different political powers became unified”. Upon his declaration, party leaders rushed to form alliances, while El-Sayed El-Badawi, president of the Al-Wafd Party, Egypt’s largest and oldest political party, appointed himself as a “porte parole” of the “national union”.
Nonetheless, El-Badawi failed and soon his allies abandoned the Al-Wafd coalition. They, instead, took more interest in another coalition, initially launched by former prime minister Kamal El-Ganzoury, but which was later acquired by Sameh Seif Al-Yazal. Both El-Ganzoury and Al-Yazal are figures close to the current regime.
Al-Fadaly was previously accused by supporters of El-Badawi’s initiative of ‘sabotaging’ Al-Wafd meetings.
In an attempt to explain why Tayyar El-Istiqlal would repeat an experience that previously failed, the group’s official spokesperson Azmy Megahed said that he “felt that people wanted the union, that the coalition aims at working for the well-being of the country, and that they want to acquire the maximum number of seats they can”.
The coalition includes low-profile parties, like the Nasserist Party, the New Independents, the Revolution Party, in addition to a few public figures. On the other hand, they will be competing against important rivals, such as the Free Egyptians Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the leftist Democratic Current, and the Al-Wafd Party.
The coalition is yet to announce a political programme, except for making general statements on improving health, education, and the like.
Megahed did not give an estimation of how many parliamentary seats the political coalition hoped to obtain. He further denied that money would be a key player in electoral competition, despite various political experts previously conceding that current parliamentary laws favour “more affluent candidates”.
Their arguments were based on the division of parliamentary seats, which allocates over 400 individual seats in comparison to only about 100 through closed-list systems.
Egypt is currently witnessing a second round of preparations for elections, after elections that were set to elect a parliament by May were postponed due to a court verdict ordering the revision of laws on grounds of non-constitutionality.
New election dates are yet to be specified but are expected to take place before the end of 2015.