The First Elected Parliament in Egypt after Revolution 2011

Between two phases of particularly violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces in November and December 2011, the parliamentary elections finally took place, which were boycotted by some of the revolutionary forces. Islamist parties managed to take almost three quarters of the seats in parliament, but the executive and the further transformation process were still dominated by the military.

The elections took place in three rounds. The results are shown in the diagram:

While it was widely expected that the Muslim Brotherhood would do best as the only well-organized force with extensive political experience and a network of branches and social activities across the country, few had expected the magnitude of the Islamist parties’ success.

The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) founded by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nour Party (NP) founded by the Salafists and a few smaller radical Islamist parties were able to acquire almost three quarters of all seats. The high electoral successes of the Salafists, who were little known before the revolution (see above under “Islamist groups”) were a big surprise. Many observers, however, see the election results only to a limited extent as a sign of a deeply rooted Islamist orientation of the broader population due to the special current conditions. The successes of the Islamists in the public debate and in the press were mainly attributed to the following factors:

  • The FJP and the NP have considerably more financial and human resources than other parties for election campaigns, which they used to distribute campaign material, make house calls, post posts on the street with netbooks and internet connection to help voters find their polling station To organize minibuses to transport voters to the polling stations, distribute water and cookies to voters standing in line, etc. Despite the ban, the Islamists continued their election campaigns until the last minute and in front of the polling stations. Many observers suspect that this affected many voters who were undecided until the last minute about whom to vote, especially since the secular forces were fragmented into a vast number of parties
  • In contrast to the newly founded parties, the Muslim Brotherhood has long been known and the NP was able to create a profile for itself through the support of various locally active radical Islamist groups that the new secular parties have yet to build. The old secular parties had lost much of their credibility before the revolution
  • According to dentistrymyth, Egyptians are used to voting for a clearly identifiable person instead of an idea and a party platform, which is the first time today. Due to their broad social base, the Muslim Brotherhood has a member in almost every family, especially in rural areas. Since family structures traditionally play an important role in voting, this gives them a clear advantage
  • The FJP was able to rely on the Muslim Brotherhood’s many years of political experience and on their network of branch offices all over Egypt and despite the ban, all Islamist parties were able to use the mosques and many Islamic NGOs for the election campaign. Secular parties usually have little political experience and could not fall back on any comparable infrastructure
  • Islamists have the reputation of having paid a high price for their confrontation with the old regime through imprisonment and torture and therefore, as well as their religiously based moral statements, to be the best guarantor for the fight against corruption. The secular parties still have to prove themselves in this regard, because many secular candidates who also opposed the old regime are largely unknown to the masses as persons
  • Islamists organized an aggressive campaign of defamation against secular parties, in which they defined the terms “secular” and “liberal” as atheist and anti-religious and presented secular parties as foreign-funded agents of foreign interests. They also presented their greatest competitor, the liberal Egyptian bloc, as the choice alternative for Christians that, if successful, would discriminate against Muslims
  • In many constituencies there were no or only unknown candidates from secular parties. The voters therefore only had the alternative of voting for an Islamist party or ex-members of the former ruling NDP. Statements by many voters both express their clear will to want to vote out the old regime at all costs. The confrontational statements of the Salafists with regard to women, tourists, etc. do not seem to be taken so seriously by many. A number of observers also suspect that some voters chose the NP as a counterweight to the FJP in order to create more plurality in parliament. Overall, the statements documented in the press express the Egyptians’ great self-confidence that they can vote out the Islamists again after four years if they do not fulfill the hopes of the voters.

Detailed information on the Egyptian electoral system as well as the parliamentary and later also the Shura council and presidential elections can be found on the following Internet portals:

  • GIGA Focus (German Institute for Global and Area Studies)
  • Rosa-Luxemburg Foundation report on the elections in Egypt in 2011 as well as background information and analyzes
  • Ahramonline portal
  • Jadaliyya

The new parliament was repeatedly criticized. He was accused of spending a lot of time discussing irrelevant topics such as banning alcohol or swimwear in tourist centers or allowing nurses and airport hostesses to disguise themselves, etc. instead of not tackling important problems such as reforming the Ministry of the Interior, the judiciary and the state media, the recovery of the money stolen through corruption, the improvement of legislation to protect against human rights violations and the setting of minimum and maximum wages.

In the time before the parliamentary elections, the security and supply situation had deteriorated increasingly. This situation did not improve after the elections. This had a grueling effect on the population. Violent and often armed attacks by criminals and gangs as well as arguments and fights over scarce goods such as petrol, diesel and butane gas were the order of the day. Many speculated that these problems were deliberately provoked or permitted in order to get the population to distance themselves from the revolutionary forces and to accept a modified version of the old system.

However, this development was interrupted by the judiciary. On June 14, 2012, the constitutional court ordered the dissolution of parliament. The reason for the decision was that, contrary to the provisions of the constitutional declaration, party candidates had also run for one third of the seats that were intended for independents in the elections. Two days after the verdict, the Parliament was formally dissolved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the members of parliament were subsequently refused entry.

Demonstrations in Cairo, 2011

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