The Nation’s Future Party welcomed over 200 new members to its ranks during the past week, in preparation for internal reconstruction of the party expected to be accomplished in the few upcoming months.
During the past week, mass resignations were submitted by members of parliament affiliated with different parties to leave their respective parties, planning to join the Nation’s Future Party’s instead, alongside independent members.
Around 150 independent members of “For the Sake of Egypt” association have joined the party. The association was formed in 2016 to support the re-election of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi during the presidential election of 2018. Also, around 50 members affiliated with the Free Egyptians Party submitted their resignations to join the Nation’s Future Party.
“The party has significantly expanded after the merger of the members of For the Sake of Egypt. The party managed to include a large number of MPs, especially independents,” Atef Nasser, the head of the parliamentary bloc of the Nation’s Future Party said in media statement.
Nassar said that party members increased from 57 to 250 after the new expansion. “We got 150 independent MPs, and a number ranging between 40 and 50 MPs who were members of the Free Egyptians Party and Al-Wafd Party,” he said.
Among the members who quit the Free Egyptians Party were head of parliament’s human rights committee, Alaa Abed; Abdel-Hadi El-Qasabi, head of parliament’s social solidarity committee; and head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee Tarek Radwan.
Moreover, from Al-Wafd Party, Hossam El-Khouli, the former deputy head of the party, resigned to become the secretary general of the Nation’s Future Party, while businessperson Al-Sayed Al-Badawi, who served two terms as the head of Al-Wafd Party, resigned as honorary president of the party, a title he had received by consensus.
These figures are supposed to be valuable additions for the Nation’s Future Party due to their long expertise in the field of politics. El-Khouli said that former members of Free Egyptians Party and Al-Wafd Party will lend their expertise to the party, and that the party aspires to be Egypt’s leading and majority party”.
In a previous media statement, Abed said that the expansion and reconstruction of the Nation’s Future Party will change the political atmosphere of the country, as it will be the leading party in Egypt.
On Thursday, members of the Nation’s Future Party met with members of For the Sake of Egypt to discuss their future work after their merger. The head of Nation’s Future Party Ashraf Rashad gave a speech regarding the new situation of the party, saying the merger of the party with the association is expected to create changes regarding filling the political vacuum that Egypt experienced over the past several years. The merger came in execution of recommendations by Al-Sisi in that regard.
The Nation’s Future Party was the first party to heed calls by Al-Sisi to unify political parties through merging with For the Sake of Egypt. During the fifth National Youth Conference, Al-Sisi called on political parties to unite to create an opportunity for closer dialogue.
“We strongly believe in Al-Sisi’s initiative and so we have moved quickly to convince more than 150 independent MPs to join our ranks,” said Rashad.
The Nation’s Future Party, which is liberally conservative, was founded in 2015 as a party representing the youth, but gradually hired more high-ranking political figures and gained more members from other competing parties. The party had supported many initiatives to re-elect Al-Sisi for another term. It further won 57 seats in the Egyptian Parliament in the parliamentary elections of 2015.
Journalist Hassan Abu Taleb, in an op-ed in state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram, commented on the changes in the Nation’s Future Party, saying that the integration is a natural development, not an exceptional situation, and is based on the conviction that building a strong and large party and its competing with other parties is the only viable path, and small parties will turn to it in order to achieve legitimate parliamentary and political gains, as defined by the constitution.
The party’s newfound position of strength was unexpected and shocking to the majority Support Egypt parliamentary coalition, which announced to the press last month that it was planning to transform into a political party.
Nasser commented on that, saying that he believes that the decision of 150 independent MPs to join the party came as a big surprise to the leaders of Support Egypt, but that the support that the Nation’s Future Party has witnessed was due to complaints surrounding the poor performance of the Support Egypt coalition’s leadership and its failure to impose discipline in parliament.
There was a state of anger within the Nation’s Future Party after news of negotiations to merge the party with the For the Sake of Egypt association. Members of the party expressed dissatisfaction with the merger by launching an initiative dubbed “You can pick flowers but you cannot delay spring”, explaining that they refuse the marginalising of the party’s youth who were able to prove their formidable presence over the past four years of work. They were able to occupy a number of important positions within parliament, in addition to their strong presence on the ground through organisational structures of young people in 27 governorates as part of the party’s functions, according to state-run newspaper Al-Ahram.
During the past several years, the weakness of the political scene in Egypt was long questioned and criticised, as it was clearly recognised that the performance of opposition groups in the country had weakened, and that they were not represented in any of the state’s major events.
Political science professor Hassan Nafaa told Daily News Egypt that there is already vacuum, and this will definitely continue to be a challenge during the next stage. The role of political parties and non-governmental organisation is very weak, he said, and there is no mechanism that could stimulate democracy in the country.
Commenting on the political vacuum, political science professor Ahmed Abd Rabo wrote in op-ed in privately-owned newspaper Al-Shorouk, “it is not new if we compare the year 2017 with the previous years in terms of politics. The restrictions on civil society continues, the file of rights is constantly declining, as well as the constant tracking of political activists and some cadres of political parties. The message is clear to all: the system’s only message is security and there is no room for politics.”