With the approach of the 2010 Egyptian parliamentary elections and 2011 presidential election, the opposition has been reinvigorated, especially since the arrival of former IAEA Chief Inspector Mohamed ElBaradei. The Carnegie Middle East Center’s Amr Hamzawy discussed the significance of upcoming elections and challenges facing the Egyptian opposition in the months ahead with Jeremy Sharp of the Congressional Research Service. Carnegie’s Michele Dunne moderated.
Hamzawy described the various laws and constitutional articles that will govern the upcoming elections:
The government uses a number of methods in order to maintain political power while engaging in the election process, Hamzawy stated. In particular, the government has undertaken the following policies:
Hamzawy discussed the similarities and differences between the opposition movements before the 2005 elections and the movement currently taking shape in Egypt:
In the 2005 elections, the Muslim Brotherhood was viewed as the leading opposition group, Hamzawy said, but in the current phase the movement appears to be following other opposition groups rather than leading. In the intervening years, the Brotherhood has undergone significant regime repression as well as a leadership change. The Brotherhood will still contest elections (even for the Shura Council, where it has never won a seat) and is attempting to work with other opposition groups and harmonize their demands. Hamzawy believed that the Brothers will take a cautious policy toward ElBaradei, pledging support and criticizing him at the same time.
The one significant difference between the 2005 elections and the current phase is the presence of ElBaradei, a figure above the fray behind whom many opposition groups can unite:
Jeremy Sharp highlighted the improvement in Egyptian-U.S. governmental relations recently, parallel to an improvement in Egyptian-Israeli relations. This still matters a great deal in how U.S. decision makers, particularly in the Congress, view Egypt. In a discussion after the presentation, Amr Hamzawy responded to a question about what the United States can do to promote free elections in Egypt by noting that Washington should be able to support the demands now emerging from the Egyptian opposition: restoring judicial supervision, domestic and international monitoring, and opening up the presidential election to independent candidates.
The Carnegie Middle East Program combines in-depth local knowledge with incisive comparative analysis to examine economic, sociopolitical, and strategic interests in the Arab world. Through detailed country studies and the exploration of key crosscutting themes, the Carnegie Middle East Program, in coordination with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, provides analysis and recommendations in both English and Arabic that are deeply informed by knowledge and views from the region. The program has special expertise in political reform and Islamist participation in pluralistic politics.
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