- Life Style
The Muslim Brotherhood has the most problematic political discourse in Egypt. They insist on upholding a religious slogan, “Islam is the Solution”, and they don't comply with existing laws that govern electoral competition. They're akin to Islamic groups in Turkey, who publicly consent to a maintaining a secular state but then change its laws once they reach power.
The Brotherhood routinely slights the Supreme Committee for Elections, which prohibits the use of religious slogans in electoral campaigning, on grounds that it's a non-independent governmental committee. Even if that's the case, the Brotherhood must respect the committee's resolutions, a price they must pay for their decision to participate in the parliamentary elections. Had the Brotherhood decided, like other opposition parties, to boycott the race, they could legitimately reject the authority of the elections committee and all other bodies belonging to the regime.
The Brotherhood has always had problems with the ruling party. Their participation in five previous elections (1984.1987, 1990, 2000, and 2005) has been to nobody’s benefit but their own. The Brothers have never abided by the political and legal conditions set by the regime, nor has the regime ever expressed its willingness to fully integrate them into the political process should they play by the rules. The result has been 30 years of stagnation in the electoral system, for which both sides are to blame.
With the government taking a tough stance against Brotherhood, and the Islamist group in turn adopting a discourse that is incompatible with democracy and a modern civic state, winning parliamentary seats becomes a matter of backroom deals and political calculations which impede the development of an open and competitive electoral system.
In the last election, the regime allowed the Brotherhood to win 88 seats only to tell the Bush administration--which was pressuring Egypt to undertake limited democratic reforms--and the West that the alternative to a “moderate” regime in Egypt was the “extremist” Brotherhood.
In the absence of such pressure from the Obama administration, the regime may be less conciliatory this time around. I predict the Brotherhood will win up to 40 seats, which would easily put them in second place after the ruling National Democratic Party. The alternative--their complete exclusion from the race--would come at a price too high for the regime to pay .
Some speculate--incorrectly, in my opinion--that the regime will let the newly-fashioned Wafd Party assume the role of Egypt’s largest opposition block in parliament. This prediction underestimates the Brotherhood’s strength. The same regime which has weakened all other secular opposition parties over the years, has successfully created its only true opponent, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.