The January 25 revolution of 2011 and the subsequent resignation of the leader of 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, presented a cutting point in the path towards democracy in Egypt. A country, which after political history of autocratic rule, single-party dominance and suspension of constitutional rights, has embarked on a complicated transitional process. During the last couple of years, the transition phase has proven to be even harder and more complicated than originally assessed, leaving Egypt in political uncertainty. In October and November 2015, the first parliamentary elections during president Abdual Fatah el-Sisi’s rule was held, but continuous crackdowns on Islamic groupings and an electoral law that restricts the participation of political parties continues to threaten the democratic transition.
Political parties face heavy challenges
During transitional periods, political parties have to make the political system work and start to deliver on some of the expectations that the public has invested in them. The Egyptian political parties are facing a lot of challenges. The electoral process of 2012 showed that there was a demand for capacity development, especially among the newly established parties. The political party map of Egypt is still in state of flux with new parties emerging and a high level of conflict within the established ones. At the same time, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party was banned in 2014 and the el-Sisi regime has ordered continuous crackdowns on affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as other Islamic parties, such as the al-Nour party and Strong Egypt.
To respond to these challenges in the transition towards multiparty democracy, DIPD has entered into a partnership with Egyptian and international institutions to support capacity building of political parties in Egypt.
2015 parliamentary elections
In October and November 2015, the first parliamentary elections since 2012 and the first since el-Sisi seized power in Egypt will be held. The elections were originally planned for March and April 2015, but questions about the constitutionality of the electoral law led to a postponement of the elections.
The current electoral law is somewhat reminiscent of the one used during the rule of Hosni Mubarak, with only 20 percent of the parliamentary seats being reserved for party candidates, while 75 percent of the seats will be filled by individual candidates. The final 5 percept can be selected personally by the president. Combined with the lack of organizational capacity in most Egyptian parties, the electoral law has left the political parties largely on the sideline in this stage of the democratic transition. Furthermore, what role the new parliament will play in the first few years of its existence remains to be seen, with most experts predicting it will simply serve as a tool for validating many of the laws adopted by the el-Sisi regime.