Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Egyptian liberal and left-wing political forces are preparing to return to their previous electoral alliance following the first stage of the 2012 Egyptian parliamentary elections, which saw Egyptian Islamist parties strengthening their political position in post-revolutionary Egypt. Egypt’s traditional and newly-formed liberal and left-wing parties exchanged accusations in the run-up to the parliamentary elections; however it seems that these parties are now – following a disappointing electoral showing throughout Egypt’s 9 provinces – prepared to form an electoral alliance to counteract the gains made by Islamist political parties, such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.
Dr. Mohamed Abou El-Ghar, the coordinator of the Kutla al-Masriya [the Egypt bloc], told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Kutla will immediately begin to coordinate with the Al-Thawra Mostmara Alliance [the Revolution Continues Alliance]…who we were previously allied with.” He added “we now need to exert concerted effort to obtain better results in the next two [electoral] stages.”
The Kutla a-Masriya is made up of a number of liberal and left-wing parties, including the Free Egyptians Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, and the Tagammu party, otherwise known as the National Progressive Unionist Party. It fielded 233 candidates in 46 districts.
Whilst the Al-Thawra Mostmara Alliance has many youth candidates and enjoys strong support with the Tahrir Square youth; it includes the Egypt Freedom Party, the Egyptian Current Party which was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s youth wing, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, and the Revolution Youth Coalition. It fielded 300 candidates in 33 districts.
Abou El-Ghar told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Kutla al-Masriya had achieved its objectives during the first stage of the Egyptian parliamentary elections, saying “we expected these results.” He added “we counted on the traditional well-established Egyptian parties to win more seats…we have been shocked by the Wafd Party’s results.”
For its part, Egypt’s Wafd Party, which enjoys a well-established position in the Egyptian political arena, ruled out the possibility of the Wafd Party allying with the Kutla al-Masriya. Wafd Party Supreme Council member, Yasser Hassan, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the [Coptic] Church’s support of the Kutla al-Masriya and the party of Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris [Free Egyptians Party – a member of the Kutla al-Masriya] has divided Egypt into two camps, and resulted in voting being a religious issue.”
Hassan revealed that “the Kutla al-Masriya saw strong support in the early hours of the elections…however the spread of information that the Church was providing them with support resulted in them losing everything.” He added “this was a grave mistake that also affected the Wafd party…and we do not expect the Kutla al-Masriya to obtain any parliamentary seats during the next two [electoral] stages.
In previous statements to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Egyptian Coptic Church – officially the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria – denied that it was funding or supporting any particular political party or group in Egypt. However two Kutla al-Masriya candidates announced their withdrawal from the electoral bloc in protest to what they described as the “interference of the Church.”
Wafd Party candidate, Yasser Hassan, also revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Wafd Party leadership met with [Coptic] Church leaders for approximately three hours in an attempt to dissuade the Church from supporting the Kutla al-Masriya, but our attempts ended in failure.”
Hassan stressed that there is no possibility for coordination or alliance between the Wafd Party and the Kutla al-Masriya, who he blamed for the poor electoral results achieved by Egypt’s liberal and left-wing political parties during the first round of parliamentary elections. Hassan told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Kutla al-Masriya’s dealings with the Coptic Church had tainted the Egyptian electorate’s view of Egypt liberal and leftist political parties.
He also said that“we [the Wafd Party] are allied with the Freedom and Justice Party [the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood]…and our position is clear. We expect to win at least 13 parliamentary seats during this round of elections, and we also expect to obtain between 50 and 60 parliamentary seats overall…but what has truly surprised us is the progress of the Salafists.”
Kutla al-Masriya coordination, Dr. Mohamed Abou El-Ghar responded to the Wafd Party accusations by telling Asharq Al-Awsat that “this is ridiculous and meaningless…the traditional [political] parties have revealed a startling weakness…whilst our party [Kutla al-Masriya] and the Free Egyptians Party have only been participating in the [Egyptian] political arena for a few months, and still need to strengthen our political base…however the Wafd Party is a long-standing party that would be expected to have a stronger electoral showing.”
For his part, Abdel Ghafar Shukr, who is left-wing leader and member of the Al-Thawra Mostmara Alliance, said that this alliance would be prepared to form an alliance with the Kutla al-Masriya during the next two electoral rounds.