- Life Style
The Egyptian Bloc, a political alliance of liberal parties, submitted its candidate lists for the parliamentary elections on Tuesday after much negotiation over the final nominations.
Once comprising 21 parties and movements, today the bloc is contesting the 28 November elections with three parties alongside candidates from various movements.
The remaining parties are the Free Egyptians Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the Tagammu Party. Along with these parties are a number of movements such as the Tahrir Youth Movement, the National Association for Change, the 9 March Doctors' Movement, the Independent Workers Union and the Independent Farmers Union.
The Egyptian Bloc in its entirety will have 332 candidates running in 46 constituencies using the list-based electoral system. Additionally, 80 candidates from the bloc will run in the single-winner seats.
The split of the candidates is 50 percent for the Free Egyptians Party, 40 percent for the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and 10 percent for the Tagammu Party.
At one point the bloc had 21 parties and movements on its books, but differences regarding the candidates that would be put forward in the end, especially in the same constituencies, led to parties dropping by the wayside.
Speaking of the process, Free Egyptians Party member and candidate for the East Cairo constituency Bassel Adel said, “Simply, there was a problem bringing all these candidates into a unified list; we had over a thousand names for 332 slots and so coordination with everyone was impossible, and grievances from within the parties themselves arose.”
Having said that, Adel insisted that the Egyptian Bloc is still the “one true coalition contesting the elections, and we succeeded in creating a unified list, especially when you see the two traditional political powers in Egypt, the Wafd and the Muslim Brotherhood, having failed to do so.”
The liberal Wafd Party had been part of the Democratic Alliance with the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, but pulled out and decided to run alone. The Freedom and Justice Party remains in the alliance with four other smaller parties.
“It is a normal process, and there were some disagreements over the candidate lists, but that was overblown by the media to a great extent. It is a normal part of the election process," said Sally Sami, a member of the political bureau of the Social Democratic Party.
Another reason for the withdrawal of some parties from the Egyptian Bloc was the accusation that some were recruiting members of the former ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) to bolster their chances in the elections. This angered some of the members of the coalition, who believe no remnants of the old regime should be included in the next parliament.
Adel said that the bloc had eight former members of the NDP on its electoral list, but clarified that there was a distinction between merely being a member of the defunct party and being from the higher echelons.
“There is no set definition for the remnants of the regime in the current foggy political climate,” he said. “If we are to consider it those who ruined political life in the country, then we do not have those in our lists.”
“We have eight candidates who resigned from the NDP even before the revolution and had filed suits against it and had troubles with it,” he added.
“None of them were candidates in the 2010 parliamentary elections. And if you look outside Cairo, to Upper Egypt and the other governorates, you have many people who were members of the NDP because they had to be to get anything done.”
Sami also reiterated that her party defined the remnants of the old regime as people who took part in the 2010 parliamentary elections, but went further to include the 2005 elections, as well local councils elections. “Those are the ones not allowed on our lists."
The NDP saw an almost complete victory in November 2010, in what was viewed as a severely rigged election. It led to outrage and is considered by some to be a contributing factor to the uprising that occurred less than two months later, in January 2011.
Sami criticized the media for exaggerating the importance of the bloc recruiting NDP members "before we finalized and submitted our lists." She added that a committee had been formed within the party to vet candidates, and anyone proven to fit the party's definition of NDP remnants would be excluded and replaced.