Seminar on Egypt to Prepare DIPD Engagement

Seminar on Egypt to Prepare DIPD Engagement

Following the official opening and the conference on Egypt and Tunisia on 26 May, DIPD is organizing a seminar on 27 May to discuss some of the challenging issues of the new multiparty system unfolding in Egypt. Guests from Egypt and the international community on political party support will participate.

Under the leadership of the Cairo-based Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute, DEDI, as well as several local partners and other international actors, DIPD is working to develop a programme that can support the capacity development process of Egyptian political parties. The program is being shaped by the short timeframe leading to the elections later in 2011, and time will show if and how a longer-term program could be possible and appropriate.

The general objective of the seminar is to provide participants with an opportunity to share ideas and experiences on the development of political parties and a well functioning multiparty system in the democratic culture unfolding in Egypt. The information and the dialogue will form an important part of the background for how DIPD will engage in activities, involving Danish political parties as well as other Danish stakeholders.

Much is written by the media on Egypt and developments in North Africa on a daily basis. DIPD has asked Barbara Le Svarre and Rasmus Alenius Boserup to write a background paper written, intended to provide an easy to read overview on the events that led to the transition, the major elements of the authoritarian order during the Mubarak regime, the contours of the new political order with a particular focus on the new multiparty system unfolding, and finally some of the considerations external actors need to be aware of.

Background paper

Front page of the Conference Paper "The Future of Democracy in Egypt"

The following is the introduction to the background paper, outlining the structure of the paper:

Three months after Mubarak was toppled, the authoritarian political order of Egypt’s past decades seems fundamentally changed. How this came about is briefly outlined in the first chapter of the present background paper.

The second chapter provides a quick overview of the past political order and introduces its three core stakeholders: The military, the National Democratic Party, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Focus in the third chapter is on capturing the contours of what appears to be a new political order in Egypt in which the National Democratic Party no longer exists, where the former illegal Islamist opposition movement is consolidating in formal political parties, and where new liberal and socialist parties emerge.

This situation is, first, described by presenting the three tendencies currently appearing within the political party system:

  1. a conservative Islamic tendency based on the constituencies formed around the Muslim Brotherhood;
  2. a conservative non-politicised and non-religious tendency based on the former constituencies of the National Democratic Party;
  3. and an a-religious liberal and socialist tendency broadly expressing the orientations of the Egyptian middle class and its youth.

The second part of the chapter describes the orientation and work of the youth movements, which due to their central role in toppling Mubarak might influence voters in the coming elections either by lobbying, by joining youth sections of the new political parties, and by working as NGOs.

Although it looks as if the Supreme Military Council will carry through with its plan for a transition towards a civil government in Egypt, the country remains in a situation of political flux. New actors emerge, disappear, gain credibility and loose this again, at a very fast pace and it is unclear how far, and how deep, the changes will finally affect the political order. The final chapter provides some brief reflections on why, how, and when the international community might best provide support for the process of creating a new political order in Egypt, stressing that the conditionality for operating with processes in flux is to accept the need of and ability to improvise.