Reforming political parties: Reintroducing political participation

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Thu, 17 May 2018 - 09:40 GMT

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi speaks during the “Analyzing the Egyptian Political Scene from Youth’s Perspective” session, May 16, 2018 - YouTube/Extra News

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi speaks during the “Analyzing the Egyptian Political Scene from Youth’s Perspective” session, May 16, 2018 - YouTube/Extra News

CAIRO – 17 May 2018: A debate titled “Analyzing the Egyptian Political Scene from Youth’s Perspective” regarding the current political parties’ system was held during the National Youth Conference on Wednesday by representatives from the Organizational Political Parties Committee. The debate managed to capitalize on the current system’s failures, and which measures need to be taken to rejuvenate the political scene in Egypt.

In order to account for these issues and find constructive solutions for them, an Organizational Committee for Political Parties was formed, with representatives from all Egyptian political parties, according to Gehad Seif al-Islam, a representative of the Mo’tamar party. Of the more than 160 representatives present in the committee, they managed to self-elect a few representatives to speak at the National Youth Conference.

Ibrahim al-Shehaby, a representative of Al-Geel (The Generation) Party, argued that the state for many years used to treat politics with a crisis management strategy, not with the aim to “strategically build” but with the aim to end the crisis at hand. “The result was that political parties and politics were being dealt with on an ad hoc basis, because bigger challenges were being met at the same time,” Shehaby explained.

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Ibrahim al-Shehaby, a representative of Al-Geel (The Generation) Party, speaking during the session, May 16, 2018 - YouTube/Extra News

Moving forth with his speech, Shehaby outlined three main points pertaining to increasing youth’s political participation: the construction of Al-Kader political school through the National Academy for Training Youth; creating a national forum for public policies; finding a mechanism to make the most out of the political minds in executive management; and establishing local, regional and international forums for youth.



In terms of the Al-Kader Political School, its main mission would be to “create top political minds that would discuss society’s issues and its main aim would be to widen the base of youth’s political participation in the political realm,” Shehaby explained. “We don’t want the upcoming political minds to have been educated according to set dogmas by rights organizations or organizations that do not possess sound ideologies.” According to Shehaby, this political school would safeguard the country from future generations educated with a doctrine of “let’s demolish it to rebuild it.” As for the forums, Shehaby reiterated that they would constitute solid, appropriate platforms for issues to be discussed constructively.

Bilal al-Habashy, a representative of the Free Egyptians Party, was asked during the session over what should be done to increase political parties’ participation in the Egyptian political scene to a point where it is felt by the population other than in the times of elections.

Habashy explained that citizens should be accustomed to political parties playing a role in their lives and offering them certain services and advantages. “But when an individual has an issue and comes to a political party to have it fixed, [the party can’t] because the executive governmental institutions have problems with parties and do not cooperate with them. We ask the president to fix this issue, please.”

Another issue Habashy pointed out was the media’s portrayal of political parties in Egypt. “Some media platforms portray political parties as useless, even though we see otherwise,” he stated.

Most representatives in the debate agreed on several points, whether directly or indirectly: first, political parties in Egypt are not playing the role political parties usually do in a developed state; second, political parties were perceived to be useless and their numbering over 100 was making their situation more difficult, especially when only a few are well established in the scene; and finally, having the older generations dominating them was rendering them practically impotent and was ensuring their demise.

All representatives concurred that political parties required great reforms and that those reforms needed palpable manifestations in Egyptian society. Directing their speeches to President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, they also all concurred that only he could grant and orchestrate these reforms.

The topic may have been discussed formally and publicly for the first time, but it is not new. Many would concur that Egypt’s political scene has been stagnant, especially where political parties are concerned.

Business tycoon Naguib Sawiris recently discussed the Free Egyptians party with a tweet, lamenting the state it is currently in.

“What is happening in the Egyptians party reminds me of the “Prince of Revenge” movie… My heart aches watching the party I formed with high hopes crumble into this tear-shedding status,” the tweet reads.



A Twitter user replied to Sawiris’s tweet, saying: “When you form a new party, begin with an entire new generation of people who love their nation and who make you want to love their nation, not people who are looking for seats and positions and who forget the nation.”

The topic was recently also raised when Sawiris refuted in April on Twitter merging his party, the Free Egyptians party, with Al-Ghad (Tomorrow) party.

Moussa Moustafa Moussa, chairperson of Al-Ghad party, gave rise to these speculations when in April he called for the merger of all political parties into one alliance under the name, “Entity of Egypt”.

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