03/12/2010

Egypt : an unpromising poll

Last Sunday, the Egyptians went to the polls for the first round of the parliamentary elections. The results fell during the week and revealed, without surprise, a landslide victory for the National Democratic Party, which won 209 seats out of 221. Despite the ban on election polls in Egypt, the results were known in advance. Filigree behind these elections, 2011 presidential represent the real challenge of a ballot prepared long ago by the ruling party.

In the same elections left no seats to the Muslim Brotherhood,  who held fifth of the outgoing Parliament. Given the violences and fraud that prevailed during the first round, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wafd opposition party both announced they would boycott the second round of elections. Many political parties had already called for a boycott of the first round, among them supporters of the potential candidate for president in 2011, Mohammed El-Baradei.

The NDP will now have to defend the democratic character of a second round of elections for which he will be the only candidate. What will be the reactions of the Western powers? Mubarak understands the dilemma that Europe and the United States are facing and its message to its western supporters is clear: « Either you support me, or you have the Islamists » (Le Monde, 2/12/2010). There is no alternative, or rather, there are no more alternatives. Indeed, initiatives of opposition exist, but the little success and the risks they face are discouraging most of them. Politics by the Muslim Brotherhood is for its part simply repressed.

The United States expressed its concern about « information on irregularities in polling stations, lack of foreign observers, the obstacles imposed on local observers, and restrictions on freedoms of association, expression and press”. But as noted by Jean-Noel Ferrie, Director of the CNRS, in Le Nouvel Observateur, « Americans have never gone beyond a few cautious remonstrance, and even if they went beyond that, it would be less troublesome than Islamist opposition encouraged by a good result at the parliamentary elections « . While on the side of the European Union and its members, no response was heard.

It is difficult to avoid the parallel with the situation in 2009 when Iranian legislative election fraud had been openly condemned by Western powers.

The 2011 presidential are hanging over, and yet it is time to see a change in Egypt. Hosni Mubarak has been in power for nearly thirty years and may stand for yet another term. The regime does not seem to seek a solution to the more and more precarious situation that the Egyptian population lives. Personal profit is now governing in Egypt, a logic very well preserved by the National Democratic Party.

Nathalie Janne d’Othée