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Egypt: New electoral list turns the tables | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An Egyptian woman casts her ballot during the second day of presidential elections at a polling station in the Heliopolis district of Cairo on May 27, 2014. (EPA/Khaled Elfiqi)

An Egyptian woman casts her ballot during the second day of presidential elections at a polling station in the Heliopolis district of Cairo on May 27, 2014. (EPA/KHALED ELFIQI)

An Egyptian woman casts her ballot during the second day of presidential elections at a polling station in the Heliopolis district of Cairo on May 27, 2014. (EPA/Khaled Elfiqi)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—The newly announced Fee Hob Misr (Out of love of Egypt) electoral list has turned all election calculations on their head in the North African republic ahead of parliamentary elections set to begin on March 21, say local commentators.

The new Misr electoral list is set to be a main contender for parliamentary seats in next month’s election, with local sources informing Asharq Al-Awsat that it has been able to bring together well-known politicians from both sides of Egypt’s political divide.

Asharq Al-Awsat spoke to one member of the new electoral coalition, Abdul Hadi Al-Qasabi, head of the Supreme Council of Sufi Orders, about the new list and reports of an alliance with former PM Kamal Al-Ganzouri’s Egyptian Front Coalition.

“We have absolutely no connection to former Prime Minister Al-Ganzouri’s electoral list. The confusion is because some of our members defected from the Egyptian Front to join our list,” he said.

Despite the denial, Sheikh Qasabi praised Ganzouri, who served as prime minister twice, as being a “well-respected patriot.”

“Ganzouri has given a lot to this country,” the Sufi leader said, while acknowledging that the new Misr list may have supplanted his position in Egypt’s pre-election forecasts.

Local Egyptian sources, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said “the new list has confused the political calculations of parties and coalitions, particularly those that had been part of Ganzouri’s list.”

Qasabi confirmed that “Our list includes a wide spectrum of Egyptian people from those who supported the January 25 revolution to those who supported the June 30 revolution, and includes left-wing figures, liberals, centrists, youth and women.”

“There is a strong desire among patriotic and nationalistic figures to join a unified list to compete in the parliamentary elections after everything that has happened in the past,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The latest electoral alliance comes after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called for Egyptian political parties to put aside their differences and compete in the upcoming elections as part of a united coalition, with many Egyptian political figures and parties subsequently announcing their willingness to do so.

However Qasabi denied that the Misr list was being backed by the Egyptian authorities, portraying the new electoral coalition as a loose political affiliation without a centralized leadership.

Misr is not a party, but rather a group of citizens who are concerned about public affairs. It has no leader because it is mostly made up of well-known political figures who each have their own value, position and weight in society,” Qasabi said.

“The list is not being backed by the state . . .But the list will be behind the state project,” he added.

“We are united by our commitment to serving the public interest and we have been able to come together despite some ideological differences between members,” Qasabi told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The Sufi leader revealed that the Misr list currently comprises 120 parliamentary candidates but refused to reveal the identities of any other members as this time.

Seeking to reassure the public about the new electoral list’s makeup, Qasabi affirmed that all members will meet with the Egyptian public’s approval, denying that any of its 120 candidates are members of the Islamist Salafist Nour Party or the outlawed former ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) of Mubarak.

“Acceptance to our list is based on clear criteria that take into account people’s history, reputation and patriotic positions and love and affiliation to the homeland,” he said.

He described the list as a “cocktail” that will be able to work together within Egypt’s forthcoming parliament.

Although Qasabi refused to reveal who will be part of the new list, Asharq Al-Awsat can confirm that a number of prominent Egyptian political figures attended the Misr list’s announcement party. This included retired military Gen. Sameh Seif El-Yazal, former Minister for Youth and Sports Taher Abouzeid, former Information Minister Osama Heikal, Azhar professor Amna Naseer, writer Lamis Gaber, youth activist Tariq Al-Kholi and trade union leader Jabali Al-Maraghi, among others.