The Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP) will run in the upcoming parliamentary elections with six candidates for individual seats, including the party’s vice-president Zohdy El-Shamy.
SPAP’s decision to take part in the elections arrived after developments in its stance on the current political scene in Egypt. On 24 January, 2015, SPAP member Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh was shot dead during a brutal dispersal of a peaceful march by security forces, which was one of the main reasons behind the party’s decision to boycott elections.
“We strongly rejected the idea of taking part in elections with fresh blood, and we listed several demands to the state, on top of which was the punishment of the perpetuator,” said SPAP leader Medhat El-Zahed.
The party had further called for the resignation of former minister of interior Mohamed Ibrahim, and it partly contributed to his replacement in March. In June, a police officer was convicted of Al-Sabbagh’s murder and handed a strict 15-year jail term.
“These steps are a progress that we saw in our political environment, which SPAP wishes to carry on with through the parliament,” EL-Zahed added, speaking Wednesday at a party conference.
SPAP initially had 15 candidates with the electoral list of “Sahwet Misr” which included figures from the democratic current such as the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP). However, the group withdrew from the electoral race over disputed candidature procedures.
El-Zahed acknowledged the party’s challenges in competing against “candidates who use money or those who use religion”. Moreover, he presented the party’s views which, as he stated, aim to represent the political opposition inside the parliament. “We reject this idea of a one-voice nation and the parliament must fulfil its monitoring role over government performance,” he added.
Moreover, the parliament must review outdated laws and legislations to enable more freedoms and rights, which are the core factors in the fight against terrorism. Such freedoms include the independence of syndicates and the press.
“If we want to fight corruption, there must be a degree of freedom within and outside the parliament,” El-Zahed said. “This won’t occur if journalists are afraid of harsh penalty.”
Meanwhile, deputy party president Elhamy El-Mirghay outlined the party’s electoral programme, which aims to decentralise power at the community and local council level by increasing public expenditure on education to reach 8% of the GDP. He added that “public companies and 5,000 private factories remain out of order, in addition to the neglect found in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, resulting in heavy dependence on imports”.
As for Egypt’s foreign relations, SPAP is against what El-Zahed described as “colonialism, and unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of other countries”.