From my friend Heba Fahmy, comes this story of the neo-liberal al-Wafd Party forming an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood. Naturally, this has drawn some heavy criticism.
The FEP, headed by business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, said it didn’t want to turn the upcoming People’s Assembly elections into “second class” elections, where political powers force their guardianship over the people through a unified list, instead of having free direct elections.
Al-Wafd and the MB have actually formed an alliance before, in the 1984 parliamentary elections. At that time, Egypt used a Closed-list PR system with an extremely high threshold; a party or alliance needed eight percent of the national vote in order to enter parliament. This caused all non-NDP parties to form strange alliances in an effort to simply meet that number and gain any seats at all. At that time, Wafd was mostly free-riding off of the MB’s grassroots support and the Brotherhood was willing to tell its supporters to cast votes for a disproportionate amount of Wafd candidates. Given that they were formally banned as a party, I guess they felt this was their best option.
Present day, however, the MB is running under their newly formed Justice and Freedom Party, and will have considerably more leverage in the relationship. For the life of me, I can’t understand why Wafd would do this. They are technically one of the most popular parties, but that’s only because support for parties is so low. (The recent IRI survey placed Wafd in first place with just six percent of respondents claiming it’s their preferred organization) This certainly isn’t the action of a party that, as its leader Al-Sayed Al-Badawy claimed, are the most powerful in the country. Wafd had already damaged its creditably with its willingness to serve as the NDP’s chosen opposition in the 2010 election. I’m guessing this will not win them many more supporters.