Egypt: A Parliamentary Plan 2011

The following post was written by my friend Ramy Yaacoub, which you can find on Twitter @RamyYaacoub (follow him as well) .  The Idea behind this is simple: in the absence of organized political forces besides the NDP and the MB, name recognition of independent players is essential. Given that the Presidential candidates have the best name recognition, and most don’t represent a current party, why not have them run for Parliament (with a list of candidates that are part of their coalition) as well? This way, they bring others in parliament who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance, and showcase their actual electability ( the guy who can;t win a parliamentary seat would never be able to win the presidential one), and allows for their presence on the scene even if they lost the elections. Anyway, that’s an overview, read the details below and share your opinion on this in the comment section if u feel like it. :)

In a post referendum March 19, 2011 Egypt, Parliament will be the only institution representative of people’s choices. As of now, many household figures, namely Amr Moussa, Bastaweesy, Ayman Nour, Baradie, etc have expressed their intentions to run for the presidency. Such names have, somewhat, all agreed in opinion on the need to curb the current presidential powers. Along with the January 25 movement and what I regard as the majority people, the household names have expressed their discontent with the Pharaoh-esque powers of an Egyptian president.  They [the household names] have called for the dilution of presidential powers,  by creating term limits, creating a checks and balances system, etc.

Meanwhile, other forces in the country, as the Islamic political movements, namely Muslim brotherhood, etc, have consolidated their efforts to legitimize the Parliament. Successfully doing so with the passage of the March 19, 2011 referendum, Parliament now has the popular legitimacy required for a three-part-plan for overhauling the Egyptian constitution.  Further elaboration on the three-part-plan will follow later.

The current path to fully fledged constitutional reform and presidential (or the lack of which):

Constitutional Amendment Referendum (Yes) - Amending Electoral & Party laws - Parliamentary Elections - Elected Parliament (Legislative Body)

It is predicted that post assembling a legislative body, they (an elusive they) will hold presidential elections followed immediately by the assembly of a constitutional drafting committee, selected by members of Parliament. Also predicted, the constitutional fruit of that committee will be up for another popular referendum that will either accept or reject the then newly drafted constitution. Should that referendum fail, then the country would revert back to the 1971 constitution. Such scenario would require a separate detailed political plan.

It is clear that Parliamentary elections will indeed take place in the near future (sometime around beginning to mid June 2011). It is also expected that the centrist voting bloc will not have much influence on the Electoral & Party laws amendment process, which will more than likely take place in May 2011. Considering the hurdles ahead, it is wise to consider a dedicated focus on influencing the Parliamentary elections, and furthermore, the first Parliamentary session post the January 25, 2011 uprising.

While it is unclear how the Electoral & Party laws amending process will affect candidacy and elections to the 444 (454 if we consider the ten presidential appointees) seats up for grabs in the People’s Council and less importantly the 174 (264 if we consider the 88 presidential appointees) seats in the Consultative Council, it is safe to predict some, if not significant, changes to the structure of eligibility and voting procedures to Parliament.

Noting one of the first points made in this briefing, household names are betting the house on a presidency that will be subject to constitutional reform sometime in the very near future. Meanwhile, established veterans of Parliament from the NDP and the Muslim Brotherhood, with supreme organizational skills are at a vantage point at this stage. Additionally with the relatively short time provided for unorganized opposition groups to assemble and push political message out, it is crucial to consider utilizing the household names in the Parliamentary elections.

To highlight the level of Parliamentary familiarity and organization with institutions such as the Muslim Brotherhood, I would like to site an example of their Parliamentary efforts. In the United States  congress an esteemed research center is provided and dedicated to the service of members of congress, the Congressional Research Service (CRS). After the more impressive win of Muslim Brotherhood candidates in 2005, the Brotherhood set up an equivalent research center to serve its members in Parliament. Unprecedented in Egyptian Parliamentary history, members of the NDP struggled to catch up with this advantage the Brotherhood created for its team in Parliament. Several scholars agree that if it was not for the corruption of Parliament, this simple tool could have magnified the effect of the Brotherhood in Parliament.

What this brief is proposing is the encouragement and utilization of the household names and their top supporters, advisors, or the like to run for parliament as a counter measure to the strength of the established institutions such as the NDP & the Muslim Brotherhood.  The repercussions could be beneficial beyond expected.

I.   Having household names in Parliament will gain media attention to a legislative body that was deemed a rubber stamp for decades.

II.   The presence of household names in Parliament will give the centrists a more significant leverage in the constitutional drafting process

III.  Being a member of Parliament does not hinder a run for the presidency. In fact, instead of having one winner (the presidency) and several losers. By having the households as members of Parliament initially at the end of the presidential elections, all would be in influential positions to mend the current affairs of the nation.

It is imperative for all centrist parties, and perhaps leftist as well to consolidate brain powers to map out the parliamentary districts of Egypt. An efficient polling methodology should be devised and activated to register accurate statistics to determine potential wins and to highlight probable losses. Finally, an agreement on the division of parliamentary districts should be conducted on high-level leadership basis between all involved centrist-leftist parties.

Ramy Yaacoub

M.A. Candidate, United States Foreign Policy – Middle Eastern Relations 

School of International Service, American University

Comments

  1. SciencePyramid says:

    I’m afraid I’m not clear to the strategy…how many so-called household names are there that if they all got a seat in Parliament how much impact would that really have? I would think a better strategy is to have all the household names use their time to unify and campaign for all nonMB and nonNDP candidates.

    • The “households” are not large in number. That is a fact. However, the idea is to encourage them to lead several candidates into parliament to form a coalition against old corrupt institutions and other like the MB. To put it simply, the a household name would, along with lets say four-five entrusted, esteemed members of his/her organization, run for parliament and take their little bloc. Meanwhile, a unification should indeed take place between the small blocs, as Sand Monkey has suggested in his previous post. Hope this helps clarify my point.

      • it is a good idea but whom is going to convince them. It has to be adressed directly to them to see if they will accept it or not rather than to the general public. Second I am nt sure but there might be an under table deal between whom going to be the next president and the expected strong power at the coming parliment as they used to do most of the time at any syndicate or organization electtion before in the country.

        • SciencePyramid says:

          OK, I see your point a little better Ramy. But all this is moot if all factions don’t unite and agree on a single, overarching strategy even if imperfect. And I can tell you that the Egyptian expat community (of which I am one) is itching to jump in and help with resources…

      • This is pretty much how the Israeli elections work except that the household ‘name’ leads a specific party and depending on how many votes that party obtains the party can then name to the parliament MKs from their list. It sounds like a good strategy but I also agree with Science Pyramid that it is extremely important for the factions to work together or they will all end up losing out. And then the biggest losers will be the Egyptian people because the MB will have essentially taken over.

  2. Aliaa Soliman says:

    In principle the idea is worth considering. Though, I personally don’t believe that any of those who have put their names forward are willing to go as MP instead of running for the presidency. The MP post might not be that attractive to them at this point in time.
    Furthermore, I believe, that parliamentary elections, here in Egypt, as well as in any other country, has its own rules, like any other election. In Egypt, the rules have been simple for the past years, get the support and approval of a major player, previously the NDP, have deep pockets and you can run. Don’t think of programs or action-plan or real services , that was not the case.
    In the Egypt of today this could be different, but still not very different if you don’t master the game of elections, especially in rural areas where programs will not be the decisive factor in the decision at least still not in this election, but rather recognition of the individual and his acceptance within his/her (?) local constituency and still the services he can provide. And for many years these ground field were abandon for the one and only organized player who proved effective in providing services, the MB, through their wide network of service centers , whatever the name may be.
    The best option right now to jumpstart is go to the roots and the “un-affiliated” players already there, such as associations and NGOs who already have some form of rapport with locals. Those may play a dual role in the soon coming election, since they already know the people as well as the key figures within any societywho could run and present good candidates . Don’t be mislead in believing that the “key figures” who put their names up for presidential elections have that much influence in “Out of Cairo Alexandria ” area. They are really just figures on TV and in newspapers, nothing more, and don’t misunderstand me in that. People may look up to them for presidency but not for their input on the local representative. For those the feedback must come from other sources, the mosque/church, the coffee shop, the barber maybe and of course the figure head within this society and the amount of services they offer, this hasn’t changes. Over and above finances will still play a role, life is not really cheap and coffee and tea do cost money. Parliamentary elections must be played on the ground with the people and for the people, not on FB pages, with lots of organization and coordination. Door to door, from one local coffee shop to the other .

    • It is a very realistic approach down to the ground that might give a good chance for success or at least to have some seats to be effective in the reform

    • I believe the point of this post is that you cannot win all of the seats. you will have to be realistic about what seats you can win and put your efforts there.

      You are talking about rural districts. The likelihood of a liberal leaning candidate winning in a conservative rural district is very small unless that district encompasses at least a major town or city that you can find like minded people in .

      We are talking about parliament seats, mind you and you don’t have to campaign in every district to get some parliament seats. In fact, that will quickly exhaust your organization and your money allowing your opponents to beat you in districts that you should have won, but lose because you did not put a maximum effort there.

      That is not to say that you want to forget about those districts, especially for a presidential bid, but you do need to conserve your energy for the fights you can win and the first fight is for a seat in parliament. Those seats give you a seat at the constitution table. Even before the presidency, that is the most important fight.

      Keep your eyes on the prize.
      Start small, think big.

      Yours in Liberty,
      Kat

    • Victoria Harper says:

      I totally agree with you Aliaa. We will be voting for our local representatives, meaning the people who know what is going on in our neighborhoods, with our jobs, with our kids. We will vote for the candidate who we truly believe has our district’s best interests at heart and has the ability to get things done.

      That said, the key will be to identify those popular, trusted liberals in districts that are not already tied into MB or NDP candidates. Your NGO and other service center suggestion is a great place to start.

      Political parties don’t mean much to a lot of eligible voters, so a coalition of liberal parties could unify behind home-town individuals with good reputations who are willing to work for the cause. The litmus test for “liberal” can also be flexible depending on how conservative the district is. In some areas, honest, hard-working and open-minded would be just fine. .

      The liberal coalition could back these home-grown candidates with resources and support for waging proper campaigns (including help with articulating a clear and simple platform that’s meaningful at a household level , e.g. minimum wage).

      Identifying those figures and getting them on board is one thing. Getting a coalition together to agree on backing only one candidate from each of the winnable districts (so as to not dilute the liberal vote) will be the real test of our discipline and resolve.

      I also completely agree that this must be a grassroots operation – zenga zenga style! The MB and NDP have been making themselves seem indispensable to their communities for years. It’s time to shift the spotlight, in the cafes and hair salons, to those folks who really are indispensable to our next move towards democracy.

  3. yasmina Maher says:

    I appreciate your ideas on your blog, but anytime I open your website a sexpage pops up? Feel weariness about this.

  4. Alright then, you are starting to “get it”.

    As far as household names, I believe the above commenter has a valid point. How many can you name, organize and convince to run? And what criteria are you using to establish “house hold names”? I am not invalidating your approach, but suggest that you will have to widen your view of “house hold names” beyond those who have managed to get into the media in front of the current situation.

    For instance, in reviewing the electoral districts that you wish to win, you may need to look for people who are influential in those neighborhoods. Keeping in mind that you are correct, the first thing you are running for are seats in parliament. These seats are for representation of specific districts. What you need to establish are potential political representatives who are known in those districts, not necessarily nationally known.

    Yes, the larger names running for parliament in specific districts can help drag the others along. Endorsements from presidents or other well known political figures have helped US representatives get a boost in their fund raising and electoral support, but the candidates for the district must be from that district and represent that district’s aspirations.

    So, who are the other potentially known candidates you can field in the districts you wish to win? I would suggest that you look for local businessmen or people who are involved in civic organizations or even local councilmen. People with name recognition in their areas/parliamentary district.

    I would suggest that you also review the social make up of those districts and field candidates accordingly. For instance, is it a working neighborhood mainly filled with union workers? Those are more likely to swing towards the socialist/union party. That means that the candidate fielded that can most likely win the seat should be from that back ground, with name recognition and social connections.

    If it is a middle class, educated, business district, a businessman who speaks their language and addresses their concerns is a more likely candidate. This would be the district that the more center or “right” leaning liberals would be more successful at contesting. They should organize around that principle.

    Let me suggest though that you still need to form a party or two to attach to your candidate’s names. Not twenty parties and not 100 independents. I am writing the reason now over at my blog as part of my fleshed out “bullet points” for getting to your elections fast, but it breaks down to two issues:

    1) Fundraising
    2) Dividing/parsing the voters into a “no majority” election

    In short, too many people/parties to spread the money, time , support and votes around makes for weak candidates, weak platforms, weak campaigns and no election victory.

    Besides, how are you going to get a candidate to run if you nor he/she has a platform to run on? A party affiliation with an overall platform gives them something to stand on to go along with the issues that their district wants to have addressed. That is any candidates first goal. He has to know what will motivate his area. Is it growing business opportunities? Is it the idea of minimum wage? All of these must somehow fit into the over all platform.

    However, parsing the districts to the ones that you can actually win is an excellent first approach. You want to get a seat at the table. you cannot get all the seats or a majority. You must get the ones that you can. you must put your money and your organization there.

    Might I suggest, having been all over twitter, etc, that there are potential people for candidacy, for helping to organize campaigns, funds, etc. All I did was read what people were posting as messages to the Egypt thread and a few others. Clicked on their profiles and discovered a core group of businessmen who work for a range of companies like Microsoft, investment firms, a CEO of a bank, etc, etc, etc. All of them with a liberal, free market bent. All who are happy for the New Egypt and most making valid posts about the issues and even one or two who suggested they would be interested in getting this together.

    They are all waiting there for someone to use this tool (that you have used so well already) to find them. As managers and leaders, they already have the experience on organizing people, media relations, managing a large organization, cooperative efforts, etc. Did I mention money and connections? Because you are going to need it. Even if they don’t want to run, they might know people who do and support it.

    Mahmoud, click over to my twitter profile and check under the lists for Egypt Business. That was just a quick pick and I did it by clicking on ONE of the obviously more enlightened posts, clicking on his profile and then going down his list of people he follows or follow him and reading their profiles and most recent posts. One guy and he works at Microsoft International in Egypt.

    Guys, you need to get on this. Just because you need to get off twitter and get into the streets with your politics doesn’t mean that, in the same way you found this gentleman to post the suggestion, the same way you organized for the revolution, you can’t find the people and organization you need to get to the streets and into parliament.

    On a final note, though I can’t (sadly) read Arabic, I found a site that actually appears to break the votes down by governorate and electoral district (from the guy at Microsoft, go figure). It has drop down tabs with a pie graph and percentages for each, not just the over all numbers for say “Cairo” governorate which is too big a picture for you to aim at. CLICK ON MY NAME for the link.

    It would be wonderful if someone who does read Arabic and English could break that down into English by governorate and district. (Which brings me to a point I made at my blog, you have lots of people with many different talents and a little time here and there that can do some of these things, you need to use the power of twitter and face book to get things done now – working on that subject next)

    Start small, think big.

    Yours in Liberty,
    Kat
    (The Legendary)

  5. This sounds like a good start but should be expanded. All of these household name candidates need to find good people they can endorse in districts all over Egypt, say twenty or thirty people. Then these people can all work to help each other get elected. They can share resources, campaign for each other, attend fund raisers together, and more.

    Once they get elected, they will continue to build on these bonds. In affect, they will be starting small political parties. Then they can consolidate with ones that are similar in policies to work towards a better Constitution and on the Presidential elections.

    This should be attractive to the household names as it will build their base, expand their reach across the country, give them more say in the Parliament, help get a more fair election system, draft a more balanced Constitution, and help move them to the top of the power brokers.

    This is just one of the many things that need to be done.

    Good luck!

    PS How can someone on the opposite side of the globe be of any assistance??

  6. Yasser Elguindi says:

    Parliament is likely to be far more important going forward than the Presidency at least in the battle for ideas. one way to convince them (the populist leaders) is that if the new parliament wants to, it can probably push for a new constitution yes? and, in that context, the President’s power may be greatly diminished (at least if Tariq al Bishri has his way based on his writings on constituions previously). I’m not saying that is a bad thing, i think we should have better checks over the executive. However, being President may not be what they think it will be.

    I think we have to take a sober look at our position. For the most part, Egypt remains a traditional, rural society. More than likely, that means our views are not in the majority. There is a big gap between ideas and we have to bridge this gap by competing directly in the battle for ideas. This takes time. Its important to have a strong, unified minority presence in parliament, so in that sense I like Ramy’s idea. People are over looking the importance of parliament and that is where we will be able to debate them directly. The problem right now is that conservatives are scaring the heck out of people with manipulation and outright lies. So we have to debate them head on. Parliament in the near term is likely the best outlet for that.

    • Medhat Ramsees says:

      Just to elaborate on your point, if after the new constitution we end up with a prliamentary system, the president’s role will be symbolic, like in Austria or Israel. The head of government will be the prime minister. Another reason for presedential candidates to want to be in parliament.

  7. Kat Mo; I agree with much of what you write but I don’t think they have the time or the resources to build one or two national political parties. The elections are in May, only a couple of months. No way will they have the time to get an organization that covers all the cities, towns, villages, rural areas and more. They don’t even have time to form a party just for Cairo.

    Just my opinion but let each household name get as many people as he/she can run for various parliamentary seats as they can. Help each other as much as possible but just get good people in office. Then you will have the time to form alliances and parties. It is critical to get as many in the Parliament as possible because that is where the rules will be written.

    Your method of finding people by backtracking Twitter feeds and their profiles is genius. What a great way to find like minded people that have the energy and determination this will take. Set up a website, Facebook, MySpace or some other method that they can communicate and exchange ideas. They probably already have some of that in place but one dedicated to the elections would be beneficial.

    Perhaps there will be a place where us “outsiders” can go to do what we can. Doing some of this background work and organizing may be something to help with.

  8. Well, Wiz, you and Mahmoud are correct to the degree that there is no possible way to grow a national party. However, I think my point is to not have five or six or twenty liberal candidates trying to run in one district. It will split the votes to thinly and give the election to a minority candidate who doesn’t have the same problem.

    I am formulating ideas on this as I type. A way to maybe form a sort of ad hoc social group that loosely coordinates to find candidates and volunteer in their districts to support. On the lines of this post suggestion with the added benefit of the beginnings of a party organization without having to come up with all the nuts and bolts in three months or less.

    • Yasser Elguindi says:

      Guys, I thought parliamentary elections were going to be held in 6 months? And, one question for you guys: I have seen estimates of the numbe of eligible voters. Does anyone have a breakdown of percentages of those eligible to vote, how many are in cairo, alex, urban vs rural etc? any idea where to find?

      • Spread sheet here: http://bit.ly/ieGClm

        Pie graph on how that breaks out by governorate and district here:
        http://www.estefta2.eg/referendum-results.html

        Red v. Blue map (yes v. no) here: http://www.arabist.net/blog/2011/3/21/mapping-egypts-referendum.html

        • Yasser Elguindi says:

          amazing data. thank you! But i would like to just verify, this data base breaks out the votes as a percentage of the population, is that total population or eligible voters?

          • Yasser ; It states in this post that the elections will be early to mid June. I thought I had seen May somewhere but perhaps not. June is still not enough time to put together a national party.

          • Yasser…good question. I didn’t put it together, but notes look like it is a percentage of population. I do not think anyone has the total # of registered/eligible voters per governorate and district yet or has figured out that they need that information as well as the numbers that voted and how those few voted.

            I believe you are allowed to comment on the page and that would be an excellent request.

          • Wiz…I just saw a report that did suggest that the parliamentary elections might be pushed of until September and the Presidential Elections to November. Although, that is not confirmed yet.

            It does make some sense. not only for a longer time frame for people to prepare, but because i believe the normal presidential elections are held in late October or November. This would keep a form of continuity for elections and it appears the army is all about maintaining that.

          • Victoria Harper says:

            voters

  9. On another note, maybe the revolutionaries are right. The revolution isn’t over. Just read that the SCAF made protesting illegal, crushing the first fundamental right of free speech:

    http://tinyurl.com/643pvwn

    As I said a moment ago, what the hell?

    Maybe it is time to hit the streets again.

    • They certainly don’t need 15 or 20 people running in the same district but they do need to get as many as they can in as many districts as they can in a loose confederation for now.

      Instead of one huge demo in Tahrir Square organize many smaller ones all across Cairo. Use them as fundraisers, voter registration and voter education seminars. Get others organized in other cities and towns. By showing up all over the country, it will show they have widespread support and hurt the argument that they represent only a small segment of the country. And they cannot be banned as demonstrations because they are actually political organizing meetings.

      One way to accelerate organizing groups is to avoid trying too hard to get everyone to to gather at one organizational meeting. It is too hard to get everyone to schedule one event so the best thing to do is pick three different days at three different times all in one week and then let people decide which meeting best fits their schedule. And having three meetings allows for things to evolve as ideas are bandied about.

      I’d hold a couple of meetings next week and then encourage all attendees to hold their own meetings in various districts and neighborhoods the following week. And keep repeating that until election day. Go over many of the topics that Kat Mo and others have posted the last couple of days and train people to replicate the process.

      • Not to be paranoid, but, I would make sure that someone had all the information on those out and about, in case of disappearances. I see this last law against protesting a kind of a return to Mubarak. Small groups are more easily targeted. And I’m sure the interpretation of this new law will be applied/enforced to their benefit. I hear they have several of the protestors from Maspero sentenced already (but can’t prove that, just hearsay). Be careful… and I would say, document, document, document everything you do and say.

        • I was just thinking the same thing. A law against protests is easily a law against political rallies.

          That is why I was noting above that maybe a mass protest to protest the abuse of free speech, the primary natural right of a citizen to participate in politics and hold their government accountable. Without it, there can be no democracy.

          If they can ban one form of political speech, they can ban another. What is next? Can’t speak out on the web? Can’t write a news editorial? Can’t say bad things that might incite a riot protest on television? Who gets to decide these things? This is the old regime doing what the old regime has always done. These are not advocates or believers in democracy.

          I should have seen this coming. Read this morning that they were expelling students from the university for participating in protests. Saw the Reichstag…er…Interior Ministry burning. The stock exchange fell 10% and they closed it down quick, reopening two hours later to return by a point. That must have scared the crap out of the interim cabinet.

          Must have assumed that the market was a referendum on the “lack of stability” and added that to some bizarre interpretation that the referendum vote for Yes on the amendments was a vote for stability and decided that gave them some mandate to impose this “stability”. Immediately crushing the first form of democracy and making Saturday’s vote null and void.

          You will now get the government they give you, not the one that you want.

          • I think any mass protests now will turn many in the country against the jan25 peoples. I don’t think it is wise, besides the new law, I fear all will be labelled ‘young kids don’t care about the country, causing ruination, etc.’ And are you willing to be jailed and fined? I agree with you, regarding the interpretation of ‘protest’ and wondering who determines it….
            It is sad that the revolution was basically stolen by the organized forces. The MB did not staunchly stand by the revolution from Jan 25, they were cautious observers at the start and like others only jumped in when it looked like things were succeeding. Could this be used in a campaign? I also think another thing to emphasize is once the majority Sunnis win, they will go after non-Sunni Muslims: Shiites, Sufis, etc… it will not be limited to non-Muslim religions. I know many do not want religion as a topic but, it is the main topic, separation of religion and state.
            Whatever the plan is, security of the players has to be taken into account.
            It would also be interesting to know what the majority of women in Egypt felt about their legal status as ‘citizens’. If it could be determined that most are not satisfied and want equality, that would be huge for the next election.

          • Maybe you should focus a lot on women’s issues. Address current inequality issues. Address sexual harassment and how to tackle these. Give women the voice they desperately need and might need more in future. Articles such as these: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/world/middleeast/25egypt.html?_r=1&ref=middleeast worry me. You were protesting for freedom and equality. You were protesting for the better. Now do not let it end up to be for the worse.

  10. Here’s another thought I thought. Reach out to the members of the MB. While there may be some pretty hard core conservatives in the MB, I am sure there are also some moderates. People joined the MB for a variety of reasons, for some it was religion, for others it was access for social aid and functions. Others joined as a way to oppose the regime.

    Look at strictly Catholic Poland under the atheist Soviet bear. Poland refused to tear down any churches as they were ordered to but they were not allowed to build any more churches. The existing churches became so crowded that they had to have several masses every Sunday to accommodate the crowds. Most estimates put the population at 85 to 90% active Catholics. But in the 20 odd years since the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the participation rate in Poland has dropped in half. A large percentage apparently were motivated to join Catholicism as a way of sticking it to the Bear.

    I am sure that a decent amount of the MB is the same. It is human nature. And if you peel some to your parties it will have double benefit. It will strengthen your position while weakening the MB’s position on Parliament. Even if only 15% switch to your parties, it will have a significant impact. Imagine what 25% or more would do.

  11. I’m not sure if this helps or is even welcome but you might, if you haven’t, want to consider the creation of a semi-autonomous agency the business of which is to conduct elections and maintain the electoral role. Basically this is separated from direct government interference andfrom the influence of partisan agents in the political arena.

    In Australia this works very well – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Electoral_Commission

    Establishing the ethical basis of the organization, which is for strict observance of due process, is the hard part.

  12. Medhat Ramsees says:

    It’s all of the above! To summarize what I’ve seen from ideas here and elsewhere, I believe these are important points:
    1) All democratic forces who are opposed to MB and NDP should unite under ONE banner. Let’s call it the revolutionary front, coalition or something ?????? ??????? for example, or “The Front” for short ??????
    2) For each electoral district only ONE candidate should be fielded from the “The Front”,
    3) The star candidates, or household names, should run under the same banner in different districts, bringing with them their organization and funding capabilities. They have to realize that the parliamentary elections are more important than their own presidential campaign.
    4) Once this front is formed, or agreed to in principal, there should be a national campaign on state TV and in the newspapers featuring the star candidates and youth, similar to the “No” video that featured El-Baradei and Moussa among others.. The emphasis is to “Vote for The Front”. This should be carried to all advertising of individual candidates who should display that they belong to The Front
    5) This will help in recruiting candidates from different factions including independents who will realize that they have a better chance of winning if they join The Front. The idea is to attract candidates who already have some weight in their own districts.
    6) Donations to support The Front can be solicited from inside and outside Egypt.

    How practical is this and how much the individual egos and special interests can take a back seat? I don’t know. What I know is that if some of these steps are not taken we will be handing the parliamentary majority to the MB on a plate.

    • How about the Unification/Unity/Unified Party? That was the goal, why not use it as the party name.

      • How about the United Democratic Front?

        • Medhat Ramsees says:

          The challenge is to get all these different groups to be under one umbrella organization. Coming up with a name will be a breeze :) Someone suggested ‘E2telaf el Thawra’ for it already has name recognition.

          • Yes, of course, but, having a name upfront, makes it easier to say join our …. (or whichever approach). I would comment that not all Egyptians supported the revolution and may turn a deaf ear just at the name. Remember your previous rant… I’m with the wiz.

  13. Okay…I’ve thought about this for the past two days

    You all are going to run an insurgency/guerrilla campaign. I am about to go over the details using Mao’s “On Guerrilla War” as a primer. (No I am not a Communist, but he did write the rules on Guerrilla War).

    1) Turn your weakness into your strength
    a) You are decentralized and not “unified”; as with the “revolution’s” strategy, you want to present the opposition as many targets as possible. (How did you get to Tahrir square? You marched from many different points making the police confused and unable to respond to all of them)
    b) They can’t hit all the targets; the point is to “exhaust and confuse” the opposition, too many targets makes them have to go in multiple directions
    c) This is where I refute my original idea about creating a “party”. One party with a single platform gives them one big target to aim at and disparage. Lot’s of independent candidates with different organizations and different platforms means they will have to go after each of them separately. DO NOT CREATE A PARTY. YET.
    d) You have groups of people in different locations, not all of them politically the same, but we’ll stack in the “liberal” column as opposed to “conservative” (ie, Islamists), small groups can work in their individual areas for the candidates they support
    2) Get them coming and going; (attack them in the east, when they expect you to attack them from the west)
    a) You do not have to support all of these candidates equally
    b) You do have to pick your targets
    c) Areas where you are the strongest will not require as much campaigning or funds to get the candidate elected, small groups making small efforts might easily put it in your pocket
    d) Areas where you are weakest do not get all the funds or time, but you should pick one or two areas that they are strong in and put a lot of time, funds and organization in (this will make them have to spend more time worrying about districts they may have originally thought they owned/had the votes and make them spend money and time where they did not plan to instead of where you are campaigning for contested seat)
    e) Areas where you are within reach, but are out by about 10-20% (ie, they have 60% and you have 40% of some sort of liberal representation) that is where you all have to put your most effort
    3) The Political Message is what is important
    a) It doesn’t matter how many parties or candidates, you don’t need a central party; you need a CENTRAL MESSAGE that all of the candidates can sell as their over all purpose (ie, Bill of rights for protection of individual rights; protection of rights insures equal opportunities for prosperity, etc; No discrimination against groups or minorities, discriminatory laws based on religion, creed or gender open’s the door for anyone in power to use the laws to discriminate against all different groups, even those who are now advocating for those types of laws because they cannot be assured they will always be in power or any part of the majority; Development of business and labor together for strong economy; stronger auditing department whose purpose is to audit the government’s budget and spending, refuse corruption; citizen’s police oversight organizations to review police activities and recommend any officers or activities for investigation to prosecution- see protection of individual rights; no one is above the law) What ever the message, that is what everyone must agree on, not the party nor it’s structure that you do not have time to develop.
    b) Everybody campaigning has to buy into the message and spread it. Like a virus, even in areas where it is not completely accepted or where you do not have time to put your effort, it will begin to infiltrate. Also, it becomes THE topic that everybody talks about on the media, in the open, etc, despite any differences between the independent candidates or parties. (Read Malcolm Goodwell’s Tipping Points)
    4) Grow a party or two or three parties AFTER the candidates win election.
    a) Taking a page out of Mao’s “On Guerrilla War”, eventually, the Guerrilla militia must turn into an army to govern.
    b) There is no rule (to my knowledge, you can check) that says that once the candidates are in office they can’t change their status (ie, from Independent to the Unified Party)
    c) It will be a big surprise to the MB, et al if they think that they will be facing a hundred independent candidates in parliament while they are a big block, imagining they will control the parliament, only to find that suddenly, the disorganized, decentralized independent candidates, who seem to present no real opposition to the MB becoming the governing block, come together to form one or two large blocks (ie, don’t declare until AFTER they are in parliament)

    This last one is one of the best ideas I came up with. Like when all of the marches from different areas converged on Tahrir to form a mass of tens of thousands confronting the government. By the time they realized what was happening, it was too late, the group was too big to disperse.

    That is what you all need to do. It would make the MB shit a brick as we like to say. It will also give you time to iron out the details, grow the party, put together the organization. You will have months instead of weeks. Also, as the campaigns go on, you will have a plethora (big group) of people with many talents that can come to the fore and be “founding members”.

    Of course, based on the current rules that I read, the process for developing a “party” and getting it approved could take months, plus, after the party is approved, it cannot start operating as a party for 30 days. That means that the mechanics for a party will have to be started fairly soon (gathering 1000 signatures/members – hell, you could do that via twitter or facebook easily; registering the founding members – and these do not have to be the people that run the party forever, in essence, they are just names that have to be published in two papers and go through the vetting process). The party has to be ready to go within 30 days of the new parliament being seated.

    Repeat that, within in 30 days of the new parliament being SEATED, not elected. So, elections take place in September, but the parliament doesn’t get seated until – what? – December? Thus, the party has to be organized and approved by Nov 1 (see,you get 60 extra days to work on it), then on Dec 2 (? 1st day of parliament), the candidates change their affiliation from “independent” or what have you to this big block party (Unified Democratic Egypt – Like that better “front” sounds like a “front party” or like a war effort or worse, untold numbers of really bad political/militia groups, plus, you are saying that this is EGYPT’s party, for all Egyptians, not just professed, practicing, pious Muslims like the MB)

    Again, though, check the rules. If voting gets turned into a “list” type of parliament candidate seating, you could have a problem. Or, if the rules state that anyone changing party affiliation has to give up their seat and go for re-elections, this could be a problem.

    5) You don’t need a party or parties now, you need PACs.
    a) PAC’s are essentially non-party affiliated Political Action Committees
    b) PAC’s are usually similar minded people who are supporting or concerned about specific ISSUES, not candidates.
    c) PAC’s act as a fund raising mechanism that obtain’s donations in support of the ISSUES
    d) PAC’s then distribute funds to parties or candidates who they believe best represent the issues they are concerned about
    e) In this way, you can get many different donors providing a lot of money to a central fund. They don’t have to try to sort out which of the multiple parties or candidates they need to or might want to fund; the PAC acts as a type of “clearing house”
    f) There are rarely any rules that keep PACs from cooperating or organizing how or where these funds are distributed to candidates and parties
    g) The funds don’t even have to be given to any candidate; the PAC acts on it’s own to buy advertisement, print posters, field speakers, hold rallies on the subject etc who support the ISSUES. They don’t have to endorse a candidate, but by simply stating similar issues, they can add to a candidates campaign power.
    h) When the PAC’s hold events discussing the issues, they can invite candidates to speak. That does not necessarily imply endorsement, but it gives a forum for otherwise non-affiliated candidates or “independents” to get the word out.
    i) PAC’s in a guerrilla campaign act as a multiplier. They increase the number of targets the opposition has to try to combat; their organizations act as a “force multiplier” providing people doing ground work that the individual campaign’s may not be able to afford to do or not have time.

    Okay…that was the quick on that (I know, still long). Check it.

    You are guerrilla’s and revolutionaries. Many different parties and people. Coming from multiple directions.

    What all insurgents need is information. You cannot decide where you need to put your efforts until you know how the seats are parsed out. You need to find out what the demographics are. You need to know where the MB is likely to campaign. you need to find where there are potential candidates.

    You need a lot of information, but you have an entire internet and scores of people on these websites who are doing what decentralized groups of people do best: aggregate and disseminate information.

    More to come.

    • Great post, lots of good ideas. Especially the idea of fighting on several fronts at once.

      The Revolutionists have experience at running a central clearinghouse to coordinate the various PACs and candidates. They did it so well during the freedom fight and can do a great job in elections.

      Don’t forget to reach out to moderate MB members. I am sure that thousands can be persuaded to join in the fight for a democratic Egypt. Just find any common ground and emphasize it. A bonus would be that some of them have good experience at organizing and they also have lots of contacts across the country.

  14. Another idea — is there a possibility of recruiting non-politicians but who have good name recognition to run for political office. If you look to the U.S. for instance, Ronald Reagan (actor), Arnold Schwarzenager (actor/gov Cal), Sonny Bono (singer/actor previous Gov of Florida) etc., got huge mileage from that. So if there would be the possibility of recruiting well-known journalists, tv personalities, movie stars and so forth that might be an advantage.

  15. All good ideas, like Kat said, someone has to check the legalities of party affiliation change rules, etc.. Of course we all know that the people for change are not the only ones reading these posts and thus have to take into consideration the opposition is also aware of these posts…

    I thought I read somewhere each party has to distinguish itself from others… Yaeli, has a good point, are there any TV personalities that have voiced their political opinions and that would be taken seriously as a candidate or even just for public support?

    Sandmonkey has some great ideas in his previous post. When religion is the major player, you cannot campaign without addressing it. (How can one be a good/devout Muslim without voting for an Islamic state? How do the new parties relay to the majority that it is not against ones identity and is not haram to vote secular?) I suggest you need a Qu’ran scholar to point out the passages supporting freedom and tolerance, and make that part of one of the parties campaign slogans –
    As suggested, reach out to imams and priests. 16 Million Sufis (they may not be safe for long and may be targeted as other minority Muslims (Bahrain, Saudia, Iran, Iraq) and over 8 million Christians, if all peoples eligible to vote go to the polls… that would be a great win.

    Please don’t forget about the female vote. Have there been any polls regarding how women of Egypt feel about their status in Egyptian society. Women do not have to publicly declare their position, they just have to vote. If most women side with freedom/equality – the war is won (IMHO). However, if they are for the most part happy to be 2nd/3rd class citizens or just follow the men folk…

    Finally, about the vote itself, how will the problems which occurred on March 19th, be prevented in the coming elections. This is in my opinion a big hurdle, have to study where problems occurred and find a solution, as seen the MB does not just want to win, they want to set a mandate (by hook or by crook).

  16. Katherine says:

    Please tell me this is not true: Islamists have taken over the Egyptian revolution

    http://hotair.com/archives/2011/03/25/nyt-surprisingly-the-muslim-brotherhood-appears-to-have-seized-the-egyptian-revolution/

  17. Too late, the tv personalities are being assaulted/terrorized. So are clubs, Egypt has regressed. Yes, the revolution has been stolen, the news everywhere shows this is the case. The army, my friends is not with you. You were the tool, and have been discarded. If you don’t fight now, you will be the political prisoners of Egypt. I say to you Jan25 youth, don’t waste time on releasing prisoners (many released rightfully belonged there) or having Mubarak tried, these are all distractions and can he dealt with at a later time. Concentrate on your vision pieces at a time, don’t bother with article 2, You can’t go from black to white in a day or visa versa.. I wish you luck, and will keep watching this post for progress. I’ve sent contact person my email info, I would like to help in any way I can.

  18. Please, please demand that a limit be put on amount of funds that corporations/organizations/institutions can contribute to a candidate’s campaign. We the people in the U.S, are NOT truly represented by our congressmen/senators. One in my state receives $500,000 from an insurance group and he strongly opposes health care for all (yet he has excellent health care provided partially by the U.S. government). Another senator receives $900,000 for his campaign from insurance companies. He also is against health care. In the U.S. the rich are getting richer while the middle class is slowing becoming extinct and the poor are getting poorer and because they cannot afford health insurance, they die as medical/hospital will not give them care without medical insurance–I have a friend who is one such person (she is slowly bleeding to death). Pretty soon, our consitution will read, “We the Corporations of the United States, in order to make a more perfect profit, etc.” Everything in our socieity is connected to profit and greed. Forbidding and/or grossly limiting such funding contributions to a candidate by companies/organizations/institutions will save your democracy.

  19. Well its a good article and it is so nice…

  20. Very thought provoking piece. Egypt will have a new government and it will be very exciting to see what you and your fellow Egyptians decide to create. Just glad you are finally free!

    Cheers,
    Jeff Warren
    http://Worldathon.wordpress.com

  21. Egypt will have a new government and it will be very exciting to see what provoking piece. he strongly opposes health care for all (yet he has excellent health care provided partially by 855252 his campaign from insurance companies. He also is against health care. In the