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A study issued by Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, prepared by Rabi‘ al-Dannan andBasem Elkassem and supervised and edited by Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh, confirmed that the political and constitutional life was not well-prepared and facilitated for President Muhammad Morsi when he took the reins of government. He faced opponents and enemies to his rule, opposing him out of political or ideological motives, or due to a conflict of interest and influence. He was not given a democratic chance to implement the electoral program with which he won. Some of those opposition forces were visible while others where hidden within the structure of what was known as the “deep state.”

This study, entitled “Parties and Political Forces,” is the second volume in a series of studies published successively and titled “Egypt between Two Eras: Morsi and al-Sisi: A Comparative Study.” It addresses the political, the constitutional, security, economic, and media conditions in Egypt during the terms of the two presidents.

Publication Information

Title: Silsilat Misr bayna ‘Ahdayn: Mursi wa al-Sisi: Dirasah Muqaranah, (2) al-Ahzab wa al-Qiwa al-Siyasiyyah (Egypt Between Two Eras: Morsi and al-Sisi: A Comparative Study, (2) Parties and Political Forces)
Prepared by: Rabi‘ al-Dannan andBasem Elkassem.
Edited by: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh
Published in: 2016 (1st edition)
Paperback: 73 pages
Price: $5
ISBN: 978-9953-572-52-9

Click here to download: Egypt Between Two Eras: Morsi and al-Sisi: A Comparative Study, (2) Parties and Political Forces  (Arabic)
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President Morsi adopted a certain strategy at the beginning of his reign, which could be boiled down to two lines: the first, an attempt to woo the military establishment—which was and still is gripping on the rule in Egypt—by adopting a no-clash policy when dealing with it. He had the purpose of gaining more time to strengthen the pillars of his rule and reserve his bigger effort for political, administrative and judicial reform.

The second line was Morsi’s approach to opposition political parties and youth forces, which participated in the January 25 Revolution. He wanted to find a national common ground, which would develop an overall national reform plan that establishes a true democratic system. Thus, meeting the aspirations and goals of the January 25 Revolution and developing Egypt’s human, economic and political conditions to achieve a state of welfare, sovereignty and good governance.

The study reveals that the narrow interests and considerations of parties played a major role in regulating the relationship and cooperation between the opposition parties and Morsi. The huge disparities that characterised most of the programs and visions of the Egyptian parties during that time contributed to the weakening of any possibility of creating a fertile ground for consensus, leading to conflicts in the end.

The internal environment was not helping to achieve Morsi’s policies, contrary to the way it helped Sisi’s rule. The military establishment, security institutions and the poles of the deep states deliberately created a non-cooperative, and even obstructive, environment within the military, security, administrative, economic, media and judicial institutions of the state; as well as their clear influence within all forms of private, out-of-state institutions. A number of opposition political parties and forces took advantage of this domestic political environment, as well as regional and international environments, in order to achieve their goal of thwarting the rule of Morsi, even through supporting the military coup against him.

The study reveals the clear difference in the way these parties dealt and behaved with both presidents. They opposed President Morsi on several occasions and decisions, while blatantly supported President Sisi’s decisions. They stood strongly against Morsi when he issued the constitutional declaration in 2012, whereas they turned a blind eye to many legislations issued by Sisi, which strengthened his and the military’s control and undermined democracy. The parties objected to Morsi’s approach to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) crisis, while hailing Sisi’s wisdom when dealing with this matter, despite the fact that al-Sisi was neither more stringent nor more patriotic than Morsi.  To add, the parties demanded that they be included in Hisham Qandil’s government, whereas they were not represented in any government formed by al-Sisi as of this writing.

The study shows that these parties and forces sat on their hands when President al-Sisi issued numerous pieces of legislation under which he restricted freedoms and gripped on many administrative, executive and legislative powers. He assumed legislative authority in the absence of the parliament, under the guise of the laws to which he was entitled in exceptional circumstances. One of the most significant laws and regulations issued by al-Sisi was the election law issued in June 2014, which reduced the opportunities of the liberal parties that emerged after the revolution, as the new voting system gave way to the old elites to return again. Another example was the amendments made to the university law in June 2014, which granted al-Sisi the authority of appointing and dismissing university presidents, allowing him, like Mubarak, to control universities. In addition, the NGO law issued in September 2014 imposed further restrictions on NGOs, including a provision of life imprisonment in the event of receiving funds from foreign entities with the aim of “harming national interests.” The law raised the ire of NGOs and civil society organisations, which depended on external funding sources.

On the contrary, these parties and forces took advantage of most of Morsi’s constitutional decisions and issuances to strengthen and unify the ranks of the opposition. They launched a wave of unprecedented incitement against the existing system at the time, as their goals intersected with the military establishment and the deep state; they also exploited the state of hostility and dissatisfaction exhibited by regional and international powers towards Morsi.

The study shows that the regime under al-Sisi adopted a policy of exclusion and repression against his opponents and rivals, especially the Muslim Brothers (MB) movement, raising the slogan “no reconciliation with the MB movement.” However, the political opposition led by the movement continued to exert increasing pressure on the regime, through taking to the streets. For the regime was inable to fulfil its obligations to the people, and the economic, security and political situation worsened by the day.

The coup paved the way for the reproduction of an opposition similar to that of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, through adopting amendments to the new law of House of Representatives issued by interim President Adly Mansour before handing power to al-Sisi. It was amended by legislation issued by President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi on 29/07/2015.

The study also states that the legislative election law issued under al-Sisi led to the weakening of political parties, where independent individuals were granted equal rights to compete for 448 seats. The new legislation issued on 5/6/2014, before it was amended on 29/7/2015, stipulated that 420 members are elected as independents and 120 as lists, i.e., an increase of 28 seats for independents came at the expense of reducing the proportion of parties in the total number of representatives in the council.

The results of the legislative elections led to several political changes including: the return of some icons of the National Party as members of many emerging parties after the Egyptian revolutions or as independent candidates within individual lists, making use of the absence of heavyweight opposition parties that had electoral and representative impact. The new parliament was composed of a “mosaic” of parties, which could not form a strong opposition due to their fragmentation, loyalty of the majority to the ruling regime, control of “business” parties over the larger number of seats obtained by parties and a “win” achieved by independents, many of whom were affiliated with the former regime. The number of independent members of parliament (MPs) totalled 322 (%56.7), while party representatives won 246 seats (%43.3), whereas the Freedom and Justice Party alone won 235 seats in the 2012 election, %46.3 of the total number of parliamentary seats which amounted to 508 at the time.

In addition, 26 out of 42 parties whose candidates ran in the legislative election failed to win any seats; most notably: Socialist Popular Alliance, Dignity, El-Ghad (Tomorrow), Democratic Generation, Arabism Egypt and Arab Party for Justice and Equality.

As for foreign obstacles and interventions faced by Morsi, many Arab countries refused to fund and deal in a serious manner with Morsi’s regime. They refused the outcomes of the Arab Spring, and were afraid of a similar uprising, as they found in “political Islam” a threat to their interests. As a result, they backed the counter-revolution and coup against Morsi, and recognised al-Sisi’s regime politically and supported him economically. The international community stood idly and silently watched the events that took place in Egypt after the coup, concerned only about its own interests rather than democracy and respect for legitimacy, especially when such democracy produces “Islamists.”

The study concluded that many gains of the January 25 Revolution disappeared after the coup of July 3; freedoms were restricted again, a number of political leaders imprisoned and others marginalised, forces which led the democratic process downsized, excluded and eradicated and numerous supporters suppressed. In addition, most aspects of the state were militarised in an attempt to reproduce a new, artificial opposition. Thus, the country faced serious crises which affected its position, status and future.

Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 16/8/2016