The majority parliamentary bloc Alliance to Support Egypt will introduce legislation and constitutional amendments by the start of the 2018/19 legislative session in an attempt to circumvent the constitutional and legal obstacles that stand in the way of establishing its new political party, according to a leading figure in the coalition.
The party, which is still without a name, would aim to provide political backing to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, several leaders of the pro-state alliance previously told Mada Masr. Its formation would draw from the alliance’s own ranks in the legislature, encompassing several existing political parties.
Features of Egypt’s Constitution and parliamentary legislation governing changes in partisan affiliation, however, may present hurdles for the majority bloc’s plan.
Article 110 of the Constitution stipulates that a member of Parliament may be stripped of their membership in cases where he or she “has lost trust, status or any of the conditions for membership on the basis of which he was elected, or if the duties of membership have been violated. The decision to revoke membership is issued by a two-thirds majority of the members of the House of Representatives.”
Similarly, Article 6 of the House of Representatives law (46/2014) stipulates that continued membership of an MP rests on the fact that the individual “maintains the designation under which he/she was elected. If a member loses such designation, a partisan member changes the party affiliation on the basis of which he/she was elected or becomes independent, or an independent member becomes partisan, such member shall have his/her membership be revoked upon a decision by the House of Representatives with a two-thirds majority of the members.”
The Alliance to Support Egypt figure, who is familiar with the details of negotiations to form the party and spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, says that the amendments to the legal obstacles standing in the way of the new party’s establishment would “inevitably” be approved at the start of “Parliament’s next session that is expected to begin in October.”
The source adds that the makeup of the coalition might undergo some changes, with the Nation’s Future Party potentially withdrawing in order to form a new coalition with the Wafd Party. The Nation’s Future Party’s place in the Alliance to Support Egypt would then be taken by the Free Egyptians Party.
The Alliance to Support Egypt coalition currently draws members from more than seven parties, most notably the Nation’s Future Party, Conference Party, Free Republican Party and Homeland Defenders Party, in addition to a host of independents.
Amid widespread news that the Alliance to Support Egypt is forming a new party, a number of MPs — four of whom are Wafd Party members — have begun participating in the coalition’s meetings, a sign that they have joined the parliamentary bloc, albeit informally and without a public declaration for fear of falling afoul of the House of Representatives law and opening their membership status to question before the expected constitutional or legal amendments take place.
The Alliance to Support Egypt figure says that a deal was struck between “state bodies” and the Wafd Party under which MP Bahaa Eddin Abu Shaqa was elected chairperson in the party’s April election. The party’s former chairperson Al-Sayed al-Badawy will in turn take the seat of former MP Serry Seyam, who resigned in February 2016, at the start of the next legislative session. The deal was arranged by Mohamed Abu Shaqa, Bahaa Eddin Abu Shaqa’s son and the head of Sisi’s 2018 presidential campaign.
The Wafd Party was also at the center of plans to establish a two party system, similar to the two-party system in the United States, according to Hussein Eissa, the Alliance to Support Egypt deputy chairperson.
“The state needs to fill the political vacuum around the president, who has been relying on his popular support for the past four years, through a new party,” Eissa previously told Mada Masr. The discussions internal to the coalition have included establishing a second party and the creation of a framework like the United States’ two-party system. “[They would be] the two strongest parties in Egypt, or if one party is formed, there would be support given to another party that the public sees as an opposition group, such as the Free Egyptians Party or the Wafd Party,” Eissa added.
State institutions have been involved in the discussions around the formation of the party since they began, coalition sources previously told Mada Masr. This inclusion has taken the form of helping to establish a clear vision for the party, one of the coalition leaders stated.
The coalition leader tells Mada Masr the office of the presidency has pushed to establish a party ahead of local elections planned for next year and announced after Egypt’s March presidential election, which it hopes will secure majority representation.