Elections Monitor: The controversial Ahmed Ezz

Ahmed Ezz, the National Democratic Party secretary of the organization, was a prominent–albeit controversial–figure in the 2010 People’s Assembly elections. While some commentators charge him with creating a “fake” victory for the NDP and directing elections with a business-like mentality, others credit him with developing a clear and coherent organizational strategy for the NDP.

The privately-owned weekly Youm 7 dedicates two pages to an analysis of Ahmed Ezz’s controversial role. Amr al-Shubaki argues that Ezz’s ascendancy in the party coincides with the emergence of problems for the Egyptian state, primarily the confluence between politics and money.

Ezz’s monopoly over the Egyptian steel trade has important implications for his political life; as much as his business life is not governed by rules, the same applies to his political life, argues al-Shubaki. Ezz, according to al-Shubaki, manages his political dealings in the same way as his business dealings–namely with a disregard for integrity and innovation. As a powerful businessman, Ezz assumes he knew everything about politics, argues al-Shubaki, and has adopted a business mentality when dealing with sensitive political issues, such as the discussion of the Palestinian problem in parliament.

Thinking primarily in terms of profits and losses, Ezz has focused on questions of funding, including Egypt’s involvement in any war against Israel. This business mentality is also reflected in Ezz’s handling of the 2010 elections, whereby he devised a novel system according to which the NDP nominated more than one party candidate for more than 150 electoral districts. This idea is derived from a business mentality that favors open, unregulated competition, says al-Shubaki.

In addition, he says, the NDP’s method of candidacy selection has set the stage for establishing Ezz as a business owner who treats NDP candidates as his employees, requiring them to sign agreements mandating that they do not defect from the party if they cannot secure the party’s nomination. Rather than educating its members in political and organizational work, Ezz deals with the NDP as a firm whose members can exit if they are not nominated for election.

In a piece entitled the “The fake victory of the secretary of the organization,” Hafez Abu Seda contests Ezz's assertions that the 2010 elections reflect the will of the voters and are the product of NDP organized efforts. Seda points out that judicial exclusion from the electoral process and low voter turnout paved the way for the return of traditional electoral violations, ranging from eliminating NDP candidates by not allowing them to apply for candidacies, to filling out ballots on behalf of candidates who are supported by “election engineers.”

On the other hand, Gehad Ouda credits Ezz’s organized thinking for the electoral sweep registered by the NDP in the recent elections. According to Ouda, Ezz was able to establish a united party that follows clear plans and makes its organizational decisions on the basis of accurate information. Since he took over as NDP secretary of the organization in 2005, Ezz was able to establish a comprehensive plan that involves concepts and models such as Gantte charts, argues Ouda.

Moreover, Ezz established the “National Organization for Economic Policies,” another organizational framework for the NDP. The organization aims to provide NDP members and MPs with information regarding important issues. It employs recent college graduates, particularly from economic and political science fields, who are required to state their opinion of the NDP and the “outlawed” Muslim Brotherhood.

Finally, Ezz adopted the method of “closed-door meetings” to coordinate with NDP members of parliament and NDP secretariats in various governorates. The meetings convened in cases of emergency, such as constitutional amendments and the passing of various important laws.

Nabil Loua Bibawi, also writing in Youm 7, echoes Ouda’s arguments, contending that the NDP was transformed into a “beehive” under Ezz leadership.

Egypt's papers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run

Rose el-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party's Policies Secretariat

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

Youm7: Weekly, privately owned

Sawt el-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

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