Leaders of Parliament’s Alliance to Support Egypt coalition are holding discussions to create at least one new political party from the coalition’s own ranks in the legislature in order to provide political backing to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, according to what several leaders of the pro-state majority parliamentary bloc tell Mada Masr.
The coalition sources did not specify a potential name for the new political party under consideration. However, they did tell Mada Masr that the ongoing discussions include state institutions.
According to one of the sources, the inclusion of state institutions is due to the absence of a fully clear vision for establishing the party and what Alliance to Support Egypt MPs would hold as its objectives.
The discussions do face a potential legal impasse, however, as Article 6 of the House of Representatives law (46/2014) stipulates that MPs must maintain the political affiliation under which they were elected for the duration of their term. If Alliance to Support Egypt coalition MPs change their partisan affiliations to join the potential new party, their continued membership in Parliament must be confirmed by a two-third vote by Parliament.
For a leader within the Alliance to Support Egypt coalition, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, the language in the law is not an impediment to the political party talks. “We pass the laws, and we can change them,” the MP says. “We have a parliamentary majority. It is not possible to strip the membership of more than 400 MPs due to a change in [partisan] status.”
MP Magdy Morshed, the Alliance to Support Egypt secretary general, tells Mada Masr that the discussions occurring in the coalition’s political bureau could bear fruit by the end of the current parliamentary session at the close of June. Coalition meetings would then intensify during Parliament’s recess in order to finalize the talks on forming a new political party.
“The formation of a party is still being discussed and studied by the coalition’s members and political Bureau,” Mohamed al-Sewedy, the coalition’s chairperson, told two official parliamentary journalists on Monday evening, emphasizing that no decision had yet been taken. “The idea lies in the need to fill the political vacuum, whether through a coalition or a new party,” he added.
Hussein Eissa, the Alliance to Support Egypt deputy chairperson, tells Mada Masr that the coalition is completely ready to be a party, although he also says it has not set a date for any official announcement . For Eissa, the coalition has enough popular momentum, which is what any political party needs in the eyes of the wider Egyptian public.
Eissa says the coalition is considering a number of different options: the establishment of one party, two parties, or the idea that just one of the political forces presently involved in the coalition establishes a new party, with the coalition itself remaining in its current legal form. On the vision of this new political entity, Eissa commented: “It is still in the framework of discussions and studies.”
In Eissa’s eyes, some of the hurdles for the Alliance to Support Egypt coalition’s creation of a political party is the need to establish headquarters in villages and towns across Egypt, as much as the fact that its formation as a party would draw from several existing parties.
The Alliance to Support Egypt coalition draws members from more than seven parties, most notably the Nation’s Future Party, Conference Party, Free Republican Party, and Homeland Defenders Party, in addition to a host of independents.
If the Alliance to Support Egypt remains in its current form, the coalition leader says, the new party may be formed from the Association for Egypt, a group formed in May 2016 by businessman and Nation’s Future member Mohamed Mansour, for the self-stated purpose of providing MPs with assistance in addressing the social and developmental needs of their constituencies. Mansour was visibly supportive of Sisi’s recent reelection bid.
While the aim of founding a party to support Sisi, according to Eissa, is to be able to form future governments amid political change from its members and to fashion it as the ruling party, the discussions internal to the coalition also include establishing a second party and the creation of a framework like the United States’ two-party system. “[They would be] the two strongest parties in Egypt, or if one party is formed, there would be support given to another party that the public sees as an opposition group, such as the Free Egyptians Party or the Wafd Party,” the coalition leader says, adding that, during discussions, the Wafd Party has been given preference to fill this role.
Bahaaeddin Abu Shoqa, the newly elected head of the Wafd Party, is quoted as saying in the Thursday issue of the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper that the coming period will witness the “birth of three or four major parties,” in order to build “a modern democratic state” and meet the goal of Article 5 of the Constitution, which provides for what Abu Shoqa called multiparty political pluralism.