Tangi Salaün: “So the Muslim Brotherhood won. Now what?”
The final round of the legislative elections passed without incident: as predicted, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Liberty and Justice Party (PLJ) came well ahead in the polls, though with 45% of seats, it didn’t in the end obtain the once-threatened absolute majority.
These “moderate” Islamists appear all the more so in that they are followed by the Salafist alliance (Al-Nour party) with almost one in four seats. With under 10% of seats, the old liberal Al-Wafd party brings up the rear, having pipped the new liberal alliance Al-Kotla (Egyptian Bloc) at the post.
The initial upshot is that the secretary general of the PLJ, Saad el-Katatni, will, on January 23, be invested as President of the People’s Assembly for a nominal term of five years. He will be backed by two vice-presidents from Al-Nour and Al-Wafd, and the parliamentary commissions will be shared proportionally between the main parties according to results.
The PLJ has already given assurances that, during its coming term of legislature, Parliament will take no measures that might adversely affect tourism, the country’s main source of income (12.5% of GDP). This declaration is supposed to be reassuring, yet the sector has seen a fall-off in business of one third, and Salafist leaders have called for a ban on beach tourism, bikinis and alcohol. Though they may speak volumes about Islamist influence in Egyptian society, these results do not for now give anything but a sketchy indication ofEgypt’s political future.
First of all, with whom will the Muslim Brotherhood seek an alliance? The Salafists, in a religious coalition which would worry all those who did not share their ideas? The liberals, so as to be more firmly embedded in the centre, even though Wafd has already ruled out any alliances? Or will they attempt to form a government of national unity?
The most burning issue, however, is that of Parliament’s powers, which will depend on whether a parliamentary or a presidential system is adopted in the future constitution. Hence the latent trial of strength between the Muslim Brothers (more favourable towards a parliamentary regime in that they’re not presenting a presidential candidate) and the army, which is looking for a candidate to support to perpetuate its influence and wants as far as possible to curtail Parliament’s room for manoeuvre in nominating a constituent Assembly.
Then there’s the unknown factor of January 25th. The young activists who were behind the uprising against Hosni Mubarak are calling for a second revolution on the day of the anniversary to chase the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) from power for seeking to prolong the former regime. Though the revolutionaries don’t seem to have garnered much support from public opinion, a further explosion of violence might just spark some political jolts with unforeseen consequences for the country’s future. This, just as Nobel Prize-winner Mohamed el-Baradei has announced his withdrawal from the presidential race, blaming the “undemocratic” climate.
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Legend: Saad el Katatni / © Ikhwanweb
Tangi Salaün, 39-year-old native of Brittany, is a journalist. Having lived in Cairo for fifteen years, he’s currently covering Egyptian news for Le Figaro, L’Express and RTL, but also for Le Temps in Geneva and Le Soir in (Brussels). He is also the co-author of two books, The Egypte of Tahrir (Le Seuil, May 2011) with journalist Claude Guibal, an Egypt, the beginnings of freedom (Michel Lafon, October 2011) with the Egyptian blogger Shahinaz Abdel Salam.
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