A wide-ranging alliance including some of Egypt’s top opposition parties announced on Tuesday that they plan to boycott and upcoming parliamentary election.
The electoral boycott, which will be joined by most of Egypt’s secular and left-wing opposition, was called in protests against a new electoral law which they claim favours the Muslim Brotherhood. The new law, drafted by an upper house dominated by Islamists and passed earlier this month, defines the constituencies which will be used in the election. The law has to be drafted by the upper house, because the lower house was dissolved last year after a court ruling that the old electoral law, which had been used to elect its members, was illegal. Critics claim that the constituencies defined in the new law have been designed to benefit the political interests of the Muslim Brotherhood, rather than the country a whole.
The National Salvation Front (NSF), an alliance of liberal and secular parties including the Popular Current led by Hamdeen Sabahy and the Dustour Party led by Mohamed ElBaradei, announced today that they would boycott elections scheduled for April-June this year in protest against the new law.
“There can be no elections without a law that guarantees the fairness of the election process and a government that can implement such a law and be trusted by the people,” said NSF Spokesperson Sameh Ashour.
The boycott will mean that this year’s elections will be a distinctly Islamist affair, pitting the Muslim Brotherhood against ultra-conservative Islamists such as Salafi Nour. The legitimacy of its results will therefore be open to doubt – which is precisely the intention of the opposition. The NSF may be betting that they will be more successful leading protests against an ‘illegitimate’ government than they would be in elections.
This could be a dangerous thing for Egypt, which has already seen major protest violence in recent months. With an opposition positioning itself as more of a protest movement than an electoral party, and a government happy to paint their supporters as violent street thugs, there is substantial risk for further violence in Egypt’s near future.
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- Egypt’s Mursi invites opposition to dialogue on elections (news.yahoo.com)
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- Egyptian elections a sham, says opposition amid calls for boycott – The Guardian (guardian.co.uk)