The parliamentary coalition known as “Egypt’s Support”, managed by former intelligence services officer Sameh Seif El-Yazal, has won two of the leading positions in the newly elected parliament.
Coalition candidates Ali Abdel Aal, and El-Sayed El-Sherif won the majority of votes for election to the positions of parliamentary speaker and first deputy parliamentary speaker, respectively.
The coalition had previously expressed its desire to form a majority inside the parliament. However, it had also come under severe criticism from other political factions for aiming to take over the House of Representatives in what was perceived as an alignment with the executive authority.
The most recent of these critiques was asserted Monday by the Free Egyptians Party (FEP) in a press conference. FEP spokesperson Shehab Waguih said the party rejects “attempts to impose uniformity, or bring back similar strategies formerly used by the dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP) or the Muslim Brotherhood organisation”.
It is now difficult to deny that the coalition, born from the electoral list of “For the Love of Egypt” was the product of the state’s intelligence services, under the supervision of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
Just as the state security apparatus orchestrated the current components of the parliament, it is expected that they will continue to interfere through a reliance on members of the coalition, conjuring images of the former regime, experts argued.
“The extent of interference from security bodies or even the president himself in parliamentary affairs will depend on which legislation will be selected for discussions,” political professor and analyst Hassan Nafea explained to Daily News Egypt Monday.
According to Nafea, those legislations will also determine internal alliances in the parliament, since the coalition is not based on common political goals or ideologies. “This is why I would not consider the coalition a parliamentary majority, because the alignment of its members is only conditioned by their future positions on the different laws,” Nafea stated.
From El-Yazal’s announcement of the launch of the “For the Love of Egypt” electoral list in February 2015 to the formation of “Egypt’s Support” coalition, there have been doubts as to whether the group was backed by the state’s highest authorities.
This also came following Al-Sisi’s declaration to party heads back in January 2015 that the state would support one “unified political alliance in the elections” given that a broad coalition could be formed.
According to political expert Ammar Ali Hassan, the state has successfully taken over the parliament. “All of this was all pre-planned, starting by the parliamentary laws, then candidates of the list showing-off in the political and media scene, promoting themselves as state-backed members,” Hassan said in comments to Daily News Egypt.
Hassan sees Abdel Aal’s election as a sign of the dominance of the executive power over the parliament. “He is the legal man of the state. I would say he is the man who drafts laws in closed rooms under the supervision of security bodies,” Hassan claimed.
However, Nafea differed regarding Abdel Aal, arguing that although his election to the position was not a surprise, he was nonetheless the “most suitable candidate for the position in terms of the requirements of the job”. Nafea spoke about charisma, legal and political expertise and ability to communicate with the various factions inside the parliament.
For Hassan, however, the lack of surprise belies the legitimacy of the parliament. Everything in the parliament was prepared to clear the way for El-Yazal’s coalition. Hassan sees the separation between the security apparatus’s practices and the presidency as approaching an indistinguishable vanishing point as Al-Sisi himself is the product of military intelligence services.
“And there is no way to avoid that acquisition. The electoral process was legitimised by the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) and security bodies did not leave out individual parliamentary seats, namely through political parties like the Guardians of the Nation and the Future of a Nation,” Hassan stated.
For Hassan, the executive authority had to ‘play the cards that way,’ and control the procedures from the beginning in order to achieve a desired outcome, because the days of controlling the results through election fraud are over.
In the meantime, Al-Sisi said Sunday that the parliament shall receive the necessary support and assistance from the executive power, while there will be a renewed commitment to the separation of the bodies’ powers in order to enable parliamentary members to work in total independence.