The merging of 25 parties and factions in the newly-established Egyptian Conference Party under the leadership of veteran politician Amr Moussa is a positive step towards the presence of powerful entities that can create balanced competition in Egypt’s political scene. It will also be able to create a strong opposition that will monitor the ruling party’s performance and remind it of the possibility of its defeat in the upcoming elections in case it failed to manage the country on the political, economic, and social levels.
In democratic and developed countries, usually two parties compete and one of them ends up in power and the other in the opposition. This, for example, applies to the Labor Party and the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom and the Democrats and Republicans in the United States. In France, a larger number of parties compete, but they are generally divided between the right and the left.
When one party occupies the political scene in a given country, this means that this country is not a real democracy and that ballot boxes can produce a dictatorship owing to the absence of strong rivals.
Since the Jan. 25 Revolution toppled the regime, Egypt has been heading in this direction. Islamist parties, particularly Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Salafi al-Nour, have been the most influential and this was made obvious in the number of seats they got in the People’s Assembly, Egypt’s lower house of parliament, and the Shura ouncil, Egypt’s lower house of parliament.
It was not just about these parties’ ability to seize power as much as how capable they are of dealing with the people and addressing realistic issues despite their lack of actual political experience.
On the other hand, liberals and leftists failed to utilize their expertise and the presence of business tycoons among their ranks. Several parties were established by people who only got known during the revolution and who for some time were regulars in talk shows on satellite channels, but that was it and for the people they remained aliens. They also made the mistake of obsessing over attacking political Islam without even knowing what it really means.
There is nothing called political Islam. There are only parties with an Islamic framework similar to the leftist, communist, or secular framework of parties that call themselves liberal. Establishing a party means involvement in the game of politics and based on dictionary definitions, a party is comprised of a group of people who adopt the same ideology.
According to French jurist and politician Maurice Duverger, there are two types of parties. The first type is represented by the elite and basically relies on wealth and social status while overlooking the people. These are usually very fragile like the liberal parties formed after the revolution and which did not score any victories on the ground. An example of this is the Egyptian Liberals Party led by businessman Naguib Sawiris.
The second type focuses on the people through addressing their needs and preparing them for decision-making positions both inside the party and in the state as a whole. This is what Islamist parties did and this is why they were slammed by the elite who accused them of turning the country into a theocracy.
Amr Moussa was able to pinpoint the mistake liberal parties committed and which basically revolves around the fact that they were not truly liberal, but rather elitist and that the only space they occupied was the illusory one provided by the media.
Amr Moussa’s initiative is bound to take the country to a democratic path since it will create an influential opposition that can soon be able to come to power through ballot boxes.
The writer is the Deputy Chief Editor of Al Arabiya Net, the article was published in the Egypt-based al-Masryoun newspaper, where this article was published on Sept. 19, 2012