Members of the Al-Dostour Party are planning a comprehensive campaign to educate as much of the population as possible about the constitution before it is put to referendum on Saturday.
The campaign will also direct attention to aspects of the constitution that worry the party and encourage people to vote “No.”
This effort is despite a decision by the National Salvation Front (NSF), which includes Al-Dostour head Mohamed ElBaradei as the front’s coordinator, to boycott the referendum rather than vote “No.” In the NSF’s Sunday evening statement they made clear that they refuse the December 15 referendum.
“The senior members, ElBaradei, Sabahy, Amr Moussa, they refused the whole thing, but the youth in the Al-Dostour and The Popular Current and other parties, they agreed to say ‘No,’” said Al-Dostour founding member Jermeen Nasr.
Nasr mentioned parts of the constitution Al-Dostour would like to change, “most of the articles we really want them to change are those that concern the authorities of the president.” She also added, “lots of things should be changed concerning child labour and women’s rights.”
The party would like to see Article 147 changed so that the president would need a larger majority of congress to agree to go to war and Article 176 tweaked to further protect the Supreme Constitutional Court from presidential interference.
Article 10 deals with the protection of women and Al-Dostour would like to see it feature more definite and universal language such as, “the state shall protect women from violence in all its forms, and to ensure the right of inheritance, and provide social and economic welfare of women heads-of-household, divorced, widowed and other women most in need, in order to ensure them a decent life.”
They would also like to see revisions to Article 70 that would guarantee children’s “protection from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation, especially disabled at-risk children” and pledge that “marriage may not occur under the age of eighteen.”
Al-Dostour is planning a widespread campaign to communicate these points to the voting population.
“We’re trying to spread the word to for people to vote ‘No,’” said Nasr.
Al-Dostour Party is well-situated to spread the word to the entire country because it has already focused on gaining a grassroots presence throughout Cairo and in every governorate.
Because the party’s reach is so wide, they will need to consider diverse tactics to communicate their message. Nasr said, “I work in the Heliopolis branch. What you are going to apply here in Heliopolis you aren’t going to be able to apply in governorates like Damanhour.”
To reach less literate populations Nasr said that the party will lean more heavily on word of mouth and one-to-one meetings to spread their message. “Every region has its own campaign.”
The Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, is organising a campaign to encourage a ‘Yes’ vote.