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Arab Socialist Union

On January 23, 1953, the Liberation Group was established to replace the disbanded political parties with the ultimate goal of making a political mobilization in support of the Revolution Command. On January 16, 1956, late president Gamal Abdul Nasser declared end of the interim period and put a new Constitution for referendum. In accordance with the 1956 Constitution, political parties were not allowed. Instead, the National Union was formed to become the political melting pot of all classes of the Egyptian people.

On October 29, 1962, President Nasser issued a decree on forming the supreme executive committee of the Arab Socialist Union. Its basic law was enacted on December 8, 1962. Enrollment into the nascent organization was announced in January 1963. Unlike its predecessors, the Arab Socialist Union was an association for the Egyptian working classes and not a grouping for the entire people. It was also a distinguished status for workers and farmers by guaranteeing half of the seats of the elect popular and political groupings for workers and farmers.

The Arab Socialist Union reflected goals of this stage as the following:

  • 1-The state control over the national economy and establishing a public sector to undertake the development process.
  • 2-The Arab nationalism.
  • 3-The negative solution for classes' struggle.
  • 4-Democracy.
  • 5-Commitment to religion and freedom of faith and worship.
Before the revolution, state penetration of the rural areas was limited by the power of local notables, but under Nasser, land reform reduced their socioeconomic dominance, and the incorporation of peasants into cooperatives transferred mass dependence from landlords to government. The extension of officials into the countryside permitted the regime to bring development and services to the village. The local branches of the ruling party, the Arab Socialist Union (ASU), fostered a certain peasant political activism and coopted the local notables--in particular the village headmen--and checked their independence from the regime.

During the remainder of the 1960s, most leftists abandoned their illegal groups and joined the government party, the Arab Socialist Union (ASU). Many occupied important positions, but their views and activities could not exceed the bounds of government tolerance. In 1971 Sadat dismissed a number of Marxists and known Soviet sympathizers from the ASU. Sadat again purged leftists from the ASU after he expelled Soviet advisers from Egypt in 1972 and after riots later that year and in early 1973. Sadat blamed them for inciting unrest.

Following the 1967 War and massive demonstrations in February and October 1969, Egypt was in a state of political turmoil, leading to raising calls for granting citizens more democratic rights and demanding self-expression for political affiliations. Following assuming office in 1970, late President Anwar Sadat adopted the slogans of rule of law and the institutional state. In August 1974, Sadat put forward a working paper to revamp the Arab Socialist Union. In July 1975, the Arab Socialist Union's general conference adopted a resolution on establishing political forums within the union for expression of opinion in accordance with basic principles of the Egyptian Revolution.

In March 1976, President Sadat issued a decree allowing three forums to represent the right wing (the Liberal Socialist Organization), the middle wing (Egypt Arab Socialist Organization) and the left wing (the National Progressive Unionist Organization). During the first meeting of the People's Assembly on November 22, 1976, President Sadat declared the three political organizations turned into parties.

The three platforms were permitted, within established guidelines, to act as separate political entities, but each group needed to elect a minimum of twelve deputies to the People's Assembly to be recognized. The leftist group was originally known as the National Progressive Unionist Organization (NPUO--later NPUP when it was allowed to become a party) led by Khalid Muhi ad Din, a Free Officer and a Marxist. The right-wing group was the Socialist Liberal Organization (SLO--later the Liberal or Ahrar Party) led by Mustafa Kamil Murad. The center group was known as the Egyptian Arab Socialist Organization. The country's main political forces, the Wafd, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nasserites, and the communists, were not allowed representation.

In the October 1976 election, not unexpectedly, the progovernment center platform of the ASU won an overwhelming majority, 280 seats; the SLP won 12 and the NPUP only 2. Independent candidates won forty-eight seats. When he opened the new assembly, Sadat announced that the platforms would become political parties.

In June 1977, the law of political party was enacted. In July 1977, Sadat announced that he would establish his own party, the National Democratic Party (NDP), signaling the end of the Arab Socialist Union, which was merged with the NDP. Sadat also wanted a more pliable left-wing opposition party, so the Socialist Labor Party (Amal) was founded with Sadat's brother-in- law as vice president.




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