The Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP) announced in a Sunday press conference it was going to run for parliamentary elections on individual seats, with a total number of between 70 and 80 candidates, according to Secretary of Organisation Tamer El-Nahhas.
“There will mainly be 15 youth, and our final number is still pending some candidates’ decision to continue in the elections,” El-Nahhas told Daily News Egypt on the sidelines of the conference.
The ESDP, headed by Mohamed Abul-Ghar, recently held internal elections for the party’s high committee, with former minister Ziad Bahaa El-Din as the new Vice-President of the party.
In a short opening statement, Abul-Ghar summarised the ESDP’s political stance by saying that the party neither supports the Muslim Brotherhood nor aims at the downfall of the current regime, which would result in a crisis similar to those witnessed in some neighbouring Arab countries.
The ESDP issued its electoral programme, which put the health sector at the heart of its strategies. Ehab El-Kharat, member of the ESDP’s high committee and a parliamentary candidate in Nasr City, criticised the slow pace of development in Egypt’s health sector, during the press conference.
“To begin with, the constitution specified that the health sector would have a separate and sufficient state budget. The Ministry of Finance then announced that approximately EGP 2.5bn from the revenues on taxes on cigarettes’ would be allocated to the sector. However, it has not [executed this], and the money was assimilated into the general budget policy, and is now lost in there,” El-Kharat said.
El-Kharat went on regarding the status of doctors’ performance evaluation, as well as hospitals and medical services, saying: “For instance, doctors do not really care if patients are successfully treated, because it would not change anything in their salaries.”
The ESDP’s strategic proposal aims at increasing public expenditure in health services over five years, providing health facilities and access to geographically and financially challenging areas within 15 years, and improving those which already exist within three years.
Moreover, a section in the programme tackles the monitoring role that should be effective in the health sector, through an independent institution, but also through a separation between power and money allocation, and more importantly, according to El-Kaharat, systematic evaluation of doctors.
El-Kharat added that similar problems and solutions apply to the Ministry of Education, adding that the party has been involved with the people, and is especially active in different syndicates.
“We are looking to enhance social democracy by pushing forward concepts such as transparency and participation, and developing outdated laws and systems. The progress in Egypt has been slow because of misconceptions and fears of freedom and creativity,” El-Kharat added.
Meanwhile, Daily News Egypt spoke to party candidate Mohamed Abol Naga, 28, who will be competing in the parliamentary elections against well-known and wealthy candidates. Asked about that, Abol Naga said that he rejected “traditional stereotypes”, saying that financial resources are only one of the means that would enable candidates.
“I strongly believe that the political scene is different before and after 25 January 2011. Maybe, power balances did not change on the apparent, but what changes is that now people matter,” Abol Naga said.
“The challenge is whether people will push for changing the balance of powers. This comes as there is a lack of political speech and practices in the country, and how people perceive politics, and their reluctance,” he added.
Abol Naga explained that many Egyptians “are tired of the old system being restored, but also from protests, which causes them to seek alternatives. This thirst for politics is an opportunity to present real political programmes”.
He also mentioned that the youth is more reluctant to participate in the upcoming elections, but generally more open to change, while on the other hand those currently participating in the elections are not so open to new ideas.
Abol Naga, along with ESDP candidate Mostafa Al-Hagrassi, will be competing in the elections in the constituencies of Heliopolis and Nozha in Cairo, both of which have one seat.
Meanwhile, the ESDP is only running on individual lists for the elections, as it had previously coordinated with the Sahwet Misr coalition, which eventually withdrew from the race. According to El-Nahhas, the party is among a select few fielding young candidates for individual seats.