As the presidential elections began to loom on the horizon, calls for boycotting surfaced among members of the democratic bloc, which championed the 25 January revolution.
The decision to boycott is based on a belief that the results are already determined: The inevitable win of former Defense Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. In this light, the presidential election is viewed as a military-sponsored charade to seal military rule. Supporters of this perspective also bank on a new revolution that will put an end to decades of authoritarianism and corruption. But, even if this revolution turns into a reality, it will be quite a gloomy one. And it is simply not what the democratic bloc needs today.
The political scene is currently over laden with deep rifts that will make such a “revolution” a catastrophe. Any revolt today will deliver an iron-fisted rule not a velvet revolution.
Skeptics of the presidential elections have based their position on the inevitability of Sisi’s victory and a possible manipulation of the votes to this end. Despite this being a valid concern, succumbing to this logic corners the democratic bloc into always being a passive reactionary force. Hence, there is a need for Egypt’s democrats to be active and plan their offenses.
The democratic bloc is in dire need of stepping up its game. They need to organize, consolidate their support base, identify their agendas, formulate solutions to societal problems and present them for public debate. In short, the democratic bloc needs to engage with the political process, despite its grimness, because we simply need to fight for our rights. We need to uphold the beliefs and the goals that people took to the streets for on 25 January. And the way to do this is through making sure that the political sphere remains open, and establishing political diversity.
The democratic bloc will only survive if it actively participates and nominates candidates in elections, whether presidential, parliamentary, municipal, syndicate or even student union races. We need to exert pressure on the state to reform and restructure itself and its legal system.
The reality is we will not be handed this political freedom on a golden plate. The opposite is true; the ruling regime is trying so hard to close the political sphere. It is utilizing its corrupt security apparatus, dubious judiciary and a deceitful media to this end. We have no choice but to resist this onslaught.
Therefore, the democratic bloc must participate in the upcoming presidential elections and rally around opposition candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi. In doing so, the democratic groups will prepare its constituencies for future electoral races, and battles against the ruthless regime.