By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: A delegation from the Democratic Alliance is set to hand their parliamentary elections draft law to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) for study late Tuesday or Wednesday.
The draft law prepared by the 18 parties comprising the alliance stipulates a “closed unconditioned roster system” for parties and independent candidates. It eliminates the individual candidate system, which was what the ruling military council had suggested combining it with the party list system in a draft law last month.
The alliance also suggested more strict conditions on the workers’ and farmers’ quota to ensure that only workers and farmers run under that classification.
“We want a representative parliament that comprises qualified members because people don’t need services but competent representatives,” said Saad Al-Katatny, secretary general of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).
The former regime was criticized for abusing the 50 percent quota allocated for workers and farmers by fielding candidates that don’t comply with the requirements. Some observers have also noted that many voters would continue to choose the candidates known for providing services to their respective constituencies regardless of their other political qualifications.
The parliament to be elected this September will choose the members of the constituent assembly that will draft Egypt’s new constitution.
The parties agreed in their meeting Tuesday at the FJP headquarters on a bill of principles governing the constitution, coordinated on the mechanisms of competing in the elections within a unified roster, and demanded a “reasonable” period of time for preparing for the elections.
“Participants agreed on putting a basis for the selection of candidates from the parties of the alliance and public independent figures and on setting regulations to prevent the remnants of the National Democratic Party from making gains as well as [to prevent] influence, money and tribalism [from impacting] the elections,” said a statement issued by the alliance.
Members of the alliance comprise parties from the left and far right, bringing together proclaimed liberals and Islamists. It includes Al-Wafd, Nasserist, Al-Ghad, Al-Karama, Labor, Freedom and Justice, Al-Geel, Al-Ahrar and Egyptian Arab Socialist parties, as well as, Al-Fadela and Al-Tawheed Al-Araby Salafi parties. Many are still to be recognized officially.
“Participants expressed their desire to strengthen the Democratic Alliance and continuing work to expand it and initiate dialogue with parties that did not attend previous meetings,” the statement said.
The alliance, called for by Al-Wafd and the Muslim Brotherhood, held its first meeting earlier this month with the participation of 13 parties and agreed to coordinate on the elections law and to form a unified roster in the elections.
At their second meeting on June 21, they launched what they called a “bill of democratic reconciliation.”
The Democratic Front, Justice, Egyptian Social Democratic and Al-Tagammu’ Parties quit the alliance.
“An electoral alliance is a very early step as the elections system has not been decided yet, neither has the type of republican regime, whether presidential or parliamentary, so we won’t attend meetings,” said a statement issued by Al-Tagammu party.
Other liberal parties refused to enter an alliance with the FJP.
“We welcome any reconciliation on national work principles and seek the unification of all powers who participated in the revolution. But the party did yet not enter any electoral alliances,” said a statement issued Tuesday by the Democratic Front Party.
The party’s decision came after pressures on its leader, Osama Al-Ghazaly Harb, from members who refused to enter coalitions with FJP to “keep the party’s liberal identity.”
“The alliance is still open for everyone, even those who quit it,” said Mohamed El-Beltagy, head of FJP’s Cairo chapter.
A number of liberal parties said that they are holding talks to enter the elections in a unified roster.
While the alliance comprises parties that had declared conflicting stances on whether to draft the constitution before or after elections, participants of Tuesday’s meeting said that they came to an agreement over the issue that has been dividing political players over the past few months.
“We got [comforting] guarantees about the content of the constitution and a committee will be formed to follow up on the issue,” said Ayman Nour, head of Al-Ghad Party.
El-Beltagy said that he is a big supporter of the “constitution first” but they have to respect people’s choice in the referendum. The Muslim Brotherhood, which El-Beltagi represented in the 2005-2010 parliament, campaigned for a ‘yes’ vote in a March referendum whose results facilitate a scenario of parliamentary elections first.
He said that the party formed a communication committee to discuss with other liberal parties their stance from the alliance. He said that they didn’t split from the liberal stream but have “their point of view.”
Media was not allowed to attend the meeting or even enter the building. Participants were banned from speaking to the media except for a four-member media committee formed during the meeting.
The alliance is set to have their next meeting on July 4 at Al-Ghad Party headquarters to discuss the elections draft law.