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Political Parties

The political developments in Egypt negatively impacted political parties. This eliminated Islamist political parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, while many of the young revolutionary forces that came into being since the removal of former president Hosni Mubarak from office in February 2011 have become far less active.

Some post-revolutionary parties formed by NDP and Mubarak era parties witnessed internal rifts, most notably Al-Moatamr (The Conference) Party, which was founded in 2012 by former presidential candidate and long term foreign minister Amr Moussa, and Al-Harka Al-Watnya (The National Movement) Party founded in 2012 by former presidential candidate and last Egyptian prime minster under Mubarak, Ahmed Shafiq.

It was supposed that the elimination of the two forces which had dominated Egyptian politics since 1980 – Hosni Mubarak's defunct ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and Muslim Brotherhood – would leave the field wide open for old political forces like the Wafd party or new revolutionary factions like the Constitution Party – to penetrate Egyptian cities and villages and create power bases there, but this did not happen. A lack of money, ideological differences and internal divisions have left most of the new political parties completely unable to gain ground in different parts of Egypt.

Some party splintering was caused by security infiltration which has been a feature of restrained political life in Egypt under Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak. The National Democratic Party (NDP) was not a normal political party, but was born from the belly of the state and security agencies. Its rivals were not allowed to cross certain red lines that were created to prevent any attempt at rotation of power. Often, security agencies undermined rising political parties from within by using loopholes to pounce on them. The deliberate stifling of political life before it could flourish and win the confidence of voters is a long and painful story.

Some experts believed that the 2014 constitution gave wider powers to the parliament comparable to that of the president as the two share the duty of naming the prime minster and assigning top state officials, a point that makes many wonder whether the current constitution would remain as is.

Statistics prepared by Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS) revealed that 44 political parties contested in the first stage of Egypt's parliamentary elections in 2015. The ballot that covers 14 governorates with some 27 million voters opened on Saturday and will close on 28 October. The ACPSS figures indicated that the number of legally licensed political parties decreased to 83 in 2015. They were over 100 in 2012.

The alliance of the Egyptian Front and the Independence Current was accepted by the High Election Committee -- that is in charge of supervising the polls -- as an electoral coalition with 60 candidates competing in the first stage's two party list constituencies in West Delta and Upper Egypt.

The Wafd Party, which is considered Egypt's oldest political party still in existence, won 39 seats in the 2011. The party faced internal rifts as seven board members, including former parliamentarians, most notably veteran politician Fouad Badrawi, called for a zero confidence vote from its Chairman El-Sayed El-Badawi in May 2015. They accused him of squandering the budget and not being inclusive enough in terms of managing the party.

Out of total 44 parties, 13 participated as members of electoral coalitions competing for party-based seats and 31 fielded candidates as independents. The first stage saw eight electoral coalitions with 240 candidates compete for 60 seats reserved to party-based candidates in two constituencies: the Nile West Delta (with 15 seats) and the North, Middle, and South Upper Egypt (with 45 seats).

The For the Love of Egypt electoral coalition, widely believed to be supported by Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, includes some of Egypt's oldest and most active political parties such as the Wafd and the Free Egyptians, headed by business tycoons Al-Sayed Al-Badawi and Naguib Sawiris respectively. ACPSS's statistics also show that Wafd had come on top in terms of number of independent candidates in the first stage. While Wafd fielded around 300 independents, the Free Egyptians Party put forward 250.

The "In Love of Egypt" coalition comprised, among others, the Free Egyptians Party (Al Masreyeen Al-Ahrar), founded by Naguib Sawiris; the Nation's Future Party, founded in 2013 by 24-year old Mohamed Badran (the head of the student union); and the New Wafd party, led by Mr. El-Sayyid el-Badawi. Other parties in the coalition are the Reform and Development Misruna Party, the Conference Party (Hezb Al-Tagammu, which is itself a union of various leftist and liberal parties), the Conservative party (which withdrew from the coalition but re-joined it), Tamarod (Rebel), the Modern Egypt Party, the Reform and Renaissance Party and the Sadat Democratic Party. The coalition also includes businessmen and former ministers and NDP members. The coalition was led by Mr. Sameh Seif El-Yazal. The Free Egyptian Party, which was founded in 2011 by Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, and the Reform and Development Party, which was also founded in 2011 by businessman Ramy Lakah, would most likely be the two parties to win seats in the parliamentarian race as they are putting forward the most money and also fielded old faces of the National Democratic Party (NDP). In the 2011 house of representatives elections, the Free Egyptians Party won only 15 seats out of 508 parliament which was widely dominated by Islamists, while the Reform and Development Party won nine seats.

Only three parties outside the In Love of Egypt coalition took more than ten seats in the 2015 election. The Republican People's Party, led by Mr. Hizb al Shab al Gomhory, included former ministers and members of the National Democratic Party (NDP) from the time of the former President Hosni Mubarak.

El Nour, a Salafist party led by Younis Makhyoun, joined Al-Sisi and other forces in removing former President Morsi from office in July 2013. The ultraconservativeSalafist Nour party, the only Islamist force contesting the polls, decided to compete in one party list constituency – the Nile West Delta – with 15 seats. Nour also fielded around 200 candidates as independents.

Guards of the Homeland party (Homat Al Watan) was the third party to win seats outside the In Love of Egypt coalition.

A number of high-profile figures who won seats in Egypt's parliamentary elections announced 09 December 2015 that they were in negotiations to form a majority parliamentary bloc of 400 MPs [out of a total of 568 seats] aimed at defending the policies of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. Negotiations were under way with a number of political parties and independent MPs to form a parliamentary bloc titled the ‘Pro-Egyptian State Coalition’, according to Sameh Seif El-Yazal, a former intelligence officer and the coordinator of the For the Love of Egypt electoral coalition, which won 120 party list seats in the poll. The negotiations had gone a long way with the leaders of three liberal political parties – the Free Egyptians Party, the Future of Homeland and the Wafd – which won the largest number of seats in the poll and which form the backbone of the For the Love of Egypt coalition. The three parties won 147 seats, or around 30 percent.

Mortada Mansour, the flamboyant chairman of the Zamalek Sporting Club who won a seat as an independent in the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahliya, told reporters that "there is no need for such a parliamentary bloc.... "It will look like a new Mubarak-style ruling party..."

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