The election campaign Blueprint

The Topic: The Elections

We are on the verge of our first real Parliamentary and Presidential elections in our nation’s history, and we are very short on time, thanks to the schedule put there by the army. Usually preparations for such campaigns would take a year and a half, so the little time we have makes the job really difficult, but not impossible. In reality, the Presidential elections isn’t as big of a concern as our Parliamentary elections, since we know that whomever becomes President can be changed in 4 years, but whomever gets into Parliament this time around will get to write the constitution, which is here to stay. Speaking to people from eastern European countries who have gone through a very eerily similar transition to what we are going through (Communist instead of simply authoritarian, a Police force so corrupt that it continues to burn evidence against it at every chance it gets, a population used to stability over the chaos and responsibility of freedom, Slavic orthodox Christians instead of MB and Salafists, etc..) and who also wanted the transition phase to pass quickly, so they ended up with a Parliament that looked very similar to the one they had before democracy, since no one was really ready. In order to avoid such fate, we will need to fully understand the picture at hand, and work really hard to mitigate the damage of trying to do this under such limited and severe conditions. It will be a lot of hard work, and here is where we start.

The Analysis:

The current parliament is 444 seats, plus 10 seats that the new President, whomever he/she is, will get to appoint. However, those 10 will not be able to join in the committee that gets to draft that new constitution, so for the purposes of our math, they don’t count. Amongst those 444 seats, there will be at least 20% , approx 89 seats, who will be previously NDP, but not necessarily ideologically NDP; they will be the members whose families control the district that they live in and they are mostly located in the Delta and Upper Egypt. The reality is, the NDP didn’t have an ideology; it was a party of power and for power, and not all of its MP’s were cheaters or engaged in fraud. Sure, in the same supreme majority of the seats they had to commit voter fraud in order to ensure that their Party candidates win, but they were also in the habit of recruiting the Independent winners into the NDP either through coercion or enticement. This also means that those 20% are up for grabs for any party that is interested in some easy seats and is willing and able to recruit those candidates. So let’s ignore those 89 seats from our calculations and focus on the remaining and truly competitive 355 seats.

What we need to do in order to ensure that the MB doesn’t get to write the constitution is for whatever coalition of parties we create to represent us to win the magic number, which in this case is 223 seats (50% of 444 + 1 seats). Given that the MB is interested in winning 30% of the Parliament (133 seats), then whatever coalition we make will have to be competitive in all 355 races and make sure that the MB loses at least 1 seat in order to get 223 seats. Given that all elections are local, in order for the parties to do so, they will need good candidates, and more importantly, good campaigns. Sure, there will be voter fraud or vote buying to some extent, but this is to be expected and the more elections we have the cleaner the elections will get. So the campaigns should acknowledge that issue and try to mitigate it as much as possible, but should also operate as if it doesn’t exist. In more than one way, this is a test-run also for all the parties involved, and whatever mistakes they will make (and they will make many), it will only help perfect their political machine for all future elections. So, a good campaign is essential for all parties involved, and the most important thing in a campaign is the organization of it. If your campaign is organized, that’s 95% of the battle, and the remaining 5% will simply depend on the candidate’s likeability and ability to sell himself and his ideas.

What to do:

Any serious campaign for Parliament will require the following Positions to be filled, for they are the people that will create the organizational structure for the campaign:

  1. Campaign Manager: Most Important Person in the campaign. He manages the heads of the different departments in the campaign, and he sets the pace and the image of the candidate. If the Candidate loses, he is the person usually to blame. The Stories of perfectly good candidates who lost to bad candidates because they didn’t have a good campaign fills the books of political history, and a bad campaign manager (like the one Baradei currently has) will cost you the election every single time. That person must understand the political canvass, must understand politics of perception, must understand PR, must be capable of running a really tight ship and should never ever ever panic. He must be cool, collected and relentless, and must have a vision for the campaign even better than the candidate has for himself. He should never let the candidate run the campaign himself and simply execute his wishes; he must present the candidate with the full picture and options and consequences of every option. Politics is a game of lesser-evils, and any candidate must have a campaign manager who is capable and comfortable with picking ones. He is the most important person in the campaign, but there isn’t a second or third person after him/her. Everyone after that is equally important and essential.
  2. Research & Data Manager: More than anything, elections are about identifying the voters, polling the voters, identifying your voter segments and then counting the votes. Those are the duties of the Research and Data manager. Other duties include: Creating Focus groups, researching the issues and the solutions and seeing which resonate with the voters; researching the competition thoroughly and polling their support level as well; creating the electoral map for the campaign and knowing every voter by district, street, age group, socio-economic status, religious & political affiliations. Demographics, psychographics, purchasing behavior, level of education; you name it, they must have it. No campaign wins without the Research & Data Manager and his team.
  3. Communications Manager: This person is responsible for the image of the candidate and the campaign on all fronts: In the eyes of the voters, in mainstream media, in social media and on the street. This is why any communications manager must have an excellent team under him/her (preferably a her , very few men understand perception and image the way women do, at least in Egypt where in many times their lives depends on it), and that team must be big and have many different departments: The branding team (under which the entire creative department for print, posters, TV ads, radio ads, web ads, you name it), the PR team (hosting events, writing Press releases, arranging for articles to be written on their candidates in various newspapers), the Online reputation management team (this is where all those internet kids can start rumors to trash you, and you always must respond pleasantly, swiftly and decisively; like the Twitter CS teams of our local Mobile Operators), the media relations team, the media monitoring team, the Media-buying team, the Production team and the Rapid Response Team (those are your media commandos, they must be on top of everything in regards to the candidate to the second, and must memorize the positions of the candidate better than himself and be able to respond as fast as humanly possible to whatever issues or crisis that might arise for whatever reason). The candidates’ Spokesperson has to be the head of the Rapid Response team and it is preferred for him/her to be a different person than the communications manager , who in the case of a campaign turned nasty will also need a buffer from the media, just like the candidate.
  4. Scheduling Manager: Any campaign is about time- management, and that’s the scheduling manager’s job, for he will be responsible for the life of the candidate. This is the person that must schedule his appearances in the media and in the voting districts, alongside with fundraisers, public events, meetings with backers and stakeholders and , last but not least, the campaign management team itself. This may seem like a PR job, but it’s not, because it’s mostly about striking the balance between the operations and the Public aspects of the campaign. This is tough job, all about setting priorities and managing expectations, and therefore absolutely essential.
  5. Field Operations manager: This is the person responsible for voter outreach, organization and on-the-ground campaigning. This person’s work relies heavily, like the communications manager, on the research & data manager’s work , alongside with excellent organizational skills and ability to focus no matter how under pressure you are. This person will run the street teams (distributing & posting promotional material, door-to-door campaigning, creating the voter database, operating the phone banks, University outreach, election monitoring and all other logistical aspects of running the campaign. This person must be able to deal and manage young people (many of which never had a real job before) as well as old, which is not an easy skill to find in Egypt.
  6. Fundraising Manager: Welcome to Sales. This person’s job is to continuously sell the candidate to many people in order to raise Money to keep the campaign afloat. This person is responsible for identifying backers, working with the scheduling manager & communications manager to set-up fundraising events and send out fundraising communications. This is the person who will get you the money, while insuring that you don’t get beholden to all of your financial supporters (maybe 4 or 5, tops).
  7. Security Manager: This is the person who will handle your campaign’s security, whether physically or internally. He is responsible for protecting the candidate and the elections monitors come election day, and for ensuring that the campaign’s secrets, tactics and information doesn’t get leaked. He is the campaigns’ State Security, and in the current conditions we are in, he is absolutely essential.

How can I help:

As I said, I am not interested in the welfare of one political party as much as I am interested in all of them. I recognize that it would be impossible to expect one party to win all of those seats, so a coalition of parties is a must, and that can only happen if all the parties run good campaigns. I will remain objective, even if I am backing or working with someone else, because it’s in my best interest that any party other than the MB or the NDP to do well. I would be more than happy to sit down with any party or presidential campaign that will run a list of affiliated candidates and discuss their operational campaign strategy with them. If I can help in any way, drop me a line at sandmonkey@gmail.com .

As for the readers, I will be going to the meetings of any new political party that gets formed and will provide all of you with the over-view of their principles, position and operations, and an objective assessment of all of that, with their contact information if you are interested to join them or check them out for yourselves. I understand that we need as much information as possible and will bemore than happy to provide that for you here. What you do with this information will be up to you.

Next post: If you want to help, but not through joining a party or campaign, how to do it.

56 Comments on The election campaign Blueprint

  1. Bedouin
    March 31, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Great post. will be spreading and studying it! keep up the really good work.

    Reply
  2. Amr Abdel Azim
    March 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Let me first compliment you on such an elaborate and well thought of paper (it will require to be arabized). Definitely agree that this would only work for a major coalition of parties having common policies. Assuming we end up with three fronts for instance , then you’ll require each one to follow the same scheme . If so , are these “professionals” easy to find or would you rather outsource these services ?(if qualified sevice providers exist ?). And what would be Mahmoud Salem’s role ? Woul you or could you provide your added value to different fronts ? One last thing your suggested approach took me somewhere to the Western World ! How would it appeal to the Egyptian culture ?
    Excellent piece of work , and would appreciate some feedback . Cheers…

    Reply
    • Kat-Mo
      March 31, 2011 at 2:16 pm

      People are virtually the same all over the world. That is to say that while they might have different reference points, they are convinced to “buy a product” through the same methods. Visually appealing advertisement, presentation of the “product” (politician), what it (he/she) will do for them.

      The appeal to emotions and beliefs (I do not mean religious appeals). Does the candidate make them feel confident and optimistic about the future? Do the people believe that they will have their aspirations met? Will the candidate be responsive to their particular issues?

      The candidate(s) must present themselves in this manner. It is always the same, regardless of place and time.

      Reply
  3. cyberstorm
    March 31, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I see that you are using methodology. Good.
    Many have given some advice, as I have read on your other pages (including myself). I think that there are many who are watching Egypt in hopes to see Egypt step forward from their successful ousting of HM. We all knew it wasn’t going to be easy afterward. Many old ties, and those hanging on old beliefs.

    If you use “districting” it helps break up the focus. So, assigning different methods of communication in those “districts” helps to break it up. Also, assigning someone as the point person in those those areas. Remember that keeping a blueprint for everyone to follow and explain why it has to be followed.

    Keeping religion important, but uses phrases such as: people having the freedom to practice, without manipulation of that religion for improper gains. There are examples I have used, but I will stop in giving references to them. There seems to be plenty of very smart people that will know how to do that.

    In fact, social communication is what I am good at, but it does not do any good to offer that without a request to help. I know better, and people that are working in the area’s know their communities better.

    The most important part of this is defining what “who” is about. Keeping it simple, and making sure someone is saying it, as well as how to answer the tough questions.

    You being in a “non committal” type position, seems as tho ugh you are trying to stay in a journalistic role, so that you can’t be overly influence (unless you feel like it =) )

    I see you go back and forth on this Israel/Palestinian issue. It happens to all of us. There are many reasons why it is hard. There are many players in that conflict, which makes it even harder to find a resolution to the problem. But, you have some bigger fish to fry right now. All of Egypt is in that position.

    MB has been long organized, and has many paths of that organization. And it isn’t just MB you have to be concerned about. People want to be able to follow their religion, but it should never be used as a tool for manipulation. This is effective way of getting people to do things that are not so good for them in the long run. They don’t know, so they turn to it easily. Having a sound, and effective message helps people look beyond that.

    Reply
  4. Rashad
    March 31, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Sandmonkey, this is great and all, but spreading the word to English language speakers is not exactly the most productive use of your time.

    R

    Reply
  5. Ezzat
    March 31, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Two quick points:

    1)

    I would consider the 30% of seats the MB will contest as “variable” rather than “fixed.” As I have been closely monitoring their statements over the past few weeks, their publically declared target ranges were different depending on what day of the week it was. I have heard ranges from 25-30%, 30-35% and 35-40% and sometimes within 24 hours of each other. The “latest” indication I recall was 30-35%.

    More importantly, you are not just up against the MB. You have other “Islamist” parties like the Wasat party and potentially new religious parties and splinter groups including some more extremist ones.

    And so the MB party itself might target only 35% of the seats but I’d be surprized if religious groups in aggregate did not target 51%+ of the seats. There is nothing to stop the MB from lending their organizational infrastructure to other liked minded groups competing for different seats.

    When it comes to defending faith, they will put aside differences and unite against the “secular” forces.

    2)

    Your communications people and strategists need to be prepared for the ugly propaganda war. As we have already seen in the referendcum, your Islamist opponents will try to paint you as “un-Islamic” and will argue that voting for you would lead to “corrupting” Western influence in society. According to some reports, there were even banners in the referendum saying that voting “No” would lead to laws allowing “men to marry men.” Last I checked, gay marriage wasn’t one of the constitutional amendments being voted on!

    We’ve only seen the preview. The “real thing” could be even more dramatic.

    So be prepared and make sure you have ready answers to counter. [I commented in your last column that you'll have more success in this propaganda war if you are able to ally yourselves with others who have solid religious credentials.]

    Good Luck!

    Reply
  6. Sherif
    March 31, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    this is great information, but is it available in Arabic anywhere?

    Reply
  7. Ezzat
    March 31, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Two quick points:

    1)

    I would consider the 30% of seats the MB will contest as “variable” rather than “fixed.” As I have been closely monitoring their statements over the past few weeks, their publically declared target ranges were different depending on what day of the week it was. I have heard ranges from 25-30%, 30-35% and 35-40% and sometimes within 24 hours of each other. The “latest” indication I recall was 30-35%.

    More importantly, you are not just up against the MB. You have other “Islamist” parties like the Wasat party and potentially new religious parties and splinter groups including some more extremist ones.

    And so the MB party itself might target only 35% of the seats but I’d be surprized if religious groups in aggregate did not target 51%+ of the seats. There is nothing to stop the MB from lending their organizational infrastructure to other liked minded groups competing for different seats.

    When it comes to defending faith, they will put aside differences and unite against the “secular” forces.

    2)

    Your communications people and strategists need to be prepared for the ugly propaganda war. As we have already seen in the referendcum, your Islamist opponents will try to paint you as “un-Islamic” and will argue that voting for you would lead to “corrupting” Western influence in society. According to some reports, there were even banners in the referendum saying that voting “No” would lead to laws allowing “men to marry men.” Last I checked, gay marriage wasn’t one of the constitutional amendments being voted on!
    We’ve only seen the preview. The “real thing” could be even more dramatic.

    So be prepared and make sure you have ready answers to counter. [I commented in your last column that you'll have more success in this propaganda war if you are able to ally yourselves with others who have solid religious credentials.]

    Good Luck!

    Reply
    • Kat-Mo
      March 31, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      I actually agree with that last idea. Faith is an important aspect for many people in and out of Egypt. They are looking for people who represent them, usually people they believe are most like them, share their beliefs.

      As a reminder though, having faith and allowing them to guide the conscience and morals is different than insisting that everyone must find that same morality through the same religion or through the power of government.

      Reply
    • Muwahid
      April 2, 2011 at 2:34 pm

      @Ezzat (March 31, 2011 at 1:16 pm)
      „According to some reports, there were even banners in the referendum saying that voting “No” would lead to laws allowing “men to marry men.”“

      That’s no lie or propaganda, that is the truly end of the road which you want. A Porn industry will come sooner. If you do not believe it, then you even do not know which kind of “western freedom” exists in the west, and that all this dirty stuff are the fruits of their (and your) understanding of “freedom”. It’s totally legitime to tell the people these simple facts

      I think Sandmonkey is totaly insane in the brain, if he thought he can bring his atheistic illusions in an arab muslim society. He believes (or better he hopes) that the islam has nothing to tell the people but we will see ….

      Reply
      • ESSAM HELMY
        May 22, 2011 at 5:33 pm

        I THINK YOU ARE CONFUSING THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS AND POLITICAL REPRESENTATION AND CIVIL LIBERTIES ISSUES.

        Reply
  8. Wasif Amaniyy
    March 31, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I compliment you with this thorough analysis and initial plan. Not being an Egyptian, I cannot judge whether this will work in Egypt. But the principles are politically and strategically sound and work well in democratic systems all over the world. Start to explain to the people the rules of democracy, stressing that democracy is not a mirracle potion with instant results but simply a way to combine forces with people whom one shares many ideas with. Democracy growth in the long run, so it will take time to grow in Egypt too.
    Perhaps you should elaborate more on specific social and economic systems (official , explicit and implicit) which make the Eyptian system and can promote or lame the coming elections. And please recognize (as you seem to do as you mention East EU developments in recent history) that in times of uncertainty many will turn to apparent or seeming certainty, even when voiced by old-regime related leadership: knowing what you had, even imperfect, appeals more to many than the uncertainty on an open future. Many ask simple questions about certainty of work and income, which questions should be met sincerely. Without promising the impossible.
    I urge you to also promote mobilization of all people and forces with democratic intent, of all creeds and walks of life. Don’t be elitary but mobilize the man in the street, muslim, christian, jew etc. Democratic strength is about combining forces on issues one shares, without denying but accepting as part of reality issues one does not agree on such as the best ways to serve the Upper Being/Allah/God. And don’t forget the women. Your revolution showed many magnificent women activists that have a great responsiobility to promote and safeguard women participating in the elections, within and oputside the house.
    Gog bless you and people like you, working for democracy.

    Reply
  9. arabist
    March 31, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Good advice and all, but one quibble: you forget about the 64 seats in the women’s quota. It’s maintained, so as well as a district strategy there will be to be a mega-district women’s lists strategy.

    Reply
    • Kat-Mo
      March 31, 2011 at 2:25 pm

      It’s actually two seats to each district. The complimentary candidate should be a woman.

      Reply
  10. Notumbo
    March 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Your thinking on issues regarding the future of Egypt causes like-minded people in other countries to sit up and watch/listen/learn. I can tell you how much we in the US are now learning from your example, as we are facing significant attacks on civil liberties here. It is heartening to see the organizing you do bring many minds to bear on the issues ahead.

    Best of luck to all the people of Egypt.

    Notumbo

    Reply
  11. ellen
    March 31, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Well done, monkey. Bravo again.
    Despite my flu today and short comment, just wanted to say quickly: PLEASE put a link to your Arabic version at the very top of this post (and same for your other posts with translations) and VISA VERSA. All of us reading this in English have non-anglophone, Arabic-speaking friends and contacts who we’d like to send the Arabic version. And PLEASE remember, that like the heroic Tunisians, you heroic Egyptians are now great models for other Arab nations soon or aspiring to go through the same political transition you are facing now. Please make it easy for all of us online to find both versions of your excellent posts (dregging through your twitter feed to find links is not realistic).
    And remember to seek out left-of-center religious groups as allies. They have more in common with you than many secularists realise and are neglected at your peril. They are a natural part of your coalition – invite them in.

    Reply
  12. @BronxZoosCobra
    March 31, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    @BronxZoosCobra *hearts* the Sandmonkey

    (not related to mongooses, are you?)

    Reply
  13. thewiz
    March 31, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    This is a good look at the organization and mechanics of electioneering but I differ on one main point

    If your campaign is organized, that’s 95% of the battle, and the remaining 5% will simply depend on the candidate’s likeability and ability to sell himself and his ideas.

    A lousy organization can destroy a good candidate but a great organization cannot overcome a lousy candidate. There was a study in the US where the researchers showed pictures of opposing candidates for one second each. And the people picked out the eventual winner 70% of the time…just by looking at the picture for one second! This shows just how important first impressions and how one’s subconscious are at work in an election.

    Organization can be the difference in two candidates that have similar visuals. And it is critical in getting out the vote and controlling the message. But you still need good candidates and a good message. But you knew that.

    It will be very difficult to organize such a system for candidates in every district or for even a majority of districts. How can one find that many talented people? And have that many people all with the same goals, beliefs, and message? Or finance such an operation? And keep them all on the same page? And if a couple go off message or are caught breaking laws or violating some cultural code, how would that reflect on the party?

    Thats why it is better to have a loose confederation. Get them all to understand this level of organization. Help them get up and running. Keep them informed and have continuing training seminars . Help them out as much as possible so that they will be committed to working together after they are in office. Help in the financing if you have the resources. But keep a reasonable distance so that any damage caused by a misstep of a candidate can be minimized. But you probably knew that too.

    First elections are very critical but also very difficult. There will be too many unknown and untested people in the races. No way to know who is to be trusted, who is corrupt, who is in it for themselves, who has a hidden agenda, and who has the intestinal fortitude for the job.

    Personnallly, I think the first term should be for only two years. Give the people some time to see how they perform and then have a second election. And even have a second Constitutional Convention after the second or even wait until after the third cycle.

    You have a tough road ahead. And the people need to have great patience for the next several years will be difficult.

    Reply
  14. Hossam Seif El Din
    March 31, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    To win in the next election, I don’t believe the candidates can work on “Fund raising” – point 6 .. it will be difficult to mobilize a fund campaign in such a short period, funds should be secured through businessmen and direct contribution. Also any candidates will need advisors – and they must be named – political, economical, social etc etc .. this should be part of the work plan as those will enable the candidate to position himself/herself with the voters according to the district issues/concerns.

    Still good piece of work .. thank you for taking the time and for sharing .. H.S.

    Reply
  15. Tallulah
    March 31, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Sandmonkey:

    Last night I watched a BBC interview with MB Essam El Erian, and he said the MB is looking to get 55-60% of the seats.

    If I can get a transcript of the interview I’ll send it to you.

    Here is a link with a bit of video, but I don’t know if it’s the part where he says MB wants 55%. (video won’t load on my slow connection). The show will run again on Friday.

    Wishing you all a successful election.

    Reply
    • Kat-Mo
      March 31, 2011 at 8:42 pm

      I don’t believe the MB knows as much as they think they know about their potential gains in the parliament. There is such a thing as propaganda in politics that is meant to scare the opponents or, in the case of stating such facts on the BBC, scare the British and the rest of the west into believing that they are the party the West needs to deal with and to ignore the rest. whatever they say about the west, they obviously believe they need approval or need to curry favor.

      That is why I have been saying the liberals need to get out more on the western media. There is a circular progress of information.

      Reply
      • Tallulah
        March 31, 2011 at 9:23 pm

        It is fairly safe to assume that the rhetoric from MB within Egypt is different that what MB says outside of the country. Political games. It can’t hurt to keep abreast of what is being said in both venues.

        Reply
  16. Iman
    March 31, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Great post, thank you for trying to get us organized . Counting on your coming posts about the parties since I do not reside in Egypt for the time being . WAITING !!!

    Reply
  17. HeleneRivers29
    April 1, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Houses and cars are not cheap and not everyone is able to buy it. But, loan was created to help people in such situations.

    Reply
  18. sam/PRAY, it works
    April 1, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Mr monkey, I wish you well. I pray God’s Spirit watch over Tunisia and its people. What has been won must never be lost. Teach your children and their children. Remember also in your prayers Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria.

    Reply
  19. leo
    April 1, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    “the Presidential elections isn’t as big of a concern as our Parliamentary elections, since we know that whomever becomes President can be changed in 4 years, but whomever gets into Parliament this time around will get to write the constitution, which is here to stay”

    Be smarter than us, the US.
    Define term limits for every elected official at every level however small.

    Do not allow relatives to serve in immediate succession.
    Make it at least 1 (better 2) election(s) apart.

    Reply
  20. Mona Khayatt
    April 1, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    How do you find out when the meetings are?
    Can you tell us about the parties being formed and what they stand for so we can join,or better still what is the party most likely stand up to the MB and NDP?

    Reply
  21. Amer
    April 2, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Democracy=oligarchy control by the moneyman the jew.

    Democracy is fake, only to entertain people as if they have choice.

    EGYPT is Muslim and our system of governance will be the divine law of Allah Sharia.

    period.

    Die in rage you athiest

    Reply
    • thewiz
      April 2, 2011 at 4:25 pm

      I’m curious….who ya gonna blame all the problems on when all the Jews are dead??

      Reply
      • leo
        April 3, 2011 at 5:05 am

        Do not make him drool.

        Reply
  22. Muwahid
    April 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Surah Âl ‘Imran (3:54)

    And they (the disbelievers) planned, but Allah planned.
    And Allah is the best of planners.

    وَمَكَرُوا وَمَكَرَ اللَّـهُ ۖ وَاللَّـهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ

    Reply
  23. ella
    April 2, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    “Speaking to people from eastern European countries who have gone through a very eerily similar transition to what we are going through (Communist instead of simply authoritarian, a Police force so corrupt that it continues to burn evidence against it at every chance it gets, a population used to stability over the chaos and responsibility of freedom, Slavic orthodox Christians instead of MB and Salafists, etc..) and who also wanted the transition phase to pass quickly, so they ended up with a Parliament that looked very similar to the one they had before democracy, since no one was really ready.”

    Sorry, SM but please, please do not make such a comparisons. And if you do please do not
    1)write that Slavic Orthodox Christians are majority in Eastern European countries. Only in some orthodox b elievers are in majority and in many countries catholics or protestants are in majority.
    I mean you wouldn’t like me to say that in your country shia are in majority do you, now?
    2) compare communists rule to your rulers
    3) compare catholic church organizations and orthodox organizations to MB and salafis. Neither catholic church nor orthodox christian churches wanted theocratic rule in our countries.
    4) say that we were “not ready ” for responsibility of freedom.
    5) Mix all our countries together.

    Otherwise, yes, use these comparisons but please first learn something about our countries and THEN compare.

    Reply
  24. Mei
    April 3, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Just do your best, let Allah do the rest.
    U are a hero. Stay focus. May Egypt prevail.

    Reply
  25. Aaron's cc:
    April 3, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Watching closely and appreciating your perspective.

    One key to defeat pro-MB faction would be to portray faith under duress as intrinsically inferior to faith with the opportunity to freely become an apostate. A woman who can freely dress provocatively but chooses to dress modestly is more of a sanctification of that faith than one who dresses modestly only because she’ll be beaten, otherwise. A Muslim who COULD convert without fearing violence but chooses not to is more of a sanctification of that faith.

    But until there is a Mecca Tourism Board which reaches out for non-Muslim visitors, I can’t envision hoping for much while I live in Dar al Harb and am expected, someday, to pay jizya or die… and there are no Imams, even in the moderate West, who would approve the notion of a Dar al Leavemetheheckalone.

    Reply
  26. Gina
    April 3, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Just sent your link to my friend who lives on the west bank of Luxor. He did not know about all this and I and trying to educate him. He is a 27 year old tourist guide who has not worked since the revolution and he is supporting his mother and 4 sisters.
    You are on the right track. Keep it up, Reform is coming but it needs you and your peers to keep doing what you are doing.

    Reply
  27. Marwa Kassem
    April 3, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Fantastic! One quickie; translate into Arabic, print copies and distribute at those political party meetings you’ll be going to. People have NO CLUE! I’ve done some rounds of my own the week before lastl….no clue I tell u! If nothing else, what u do is stimulate people’s brain juices!! They gotta think big picture, long term and at the same time be very focused on the day-to-day that gets them there! I need your advice on MESSAGING for that big coallition “umbrella”… will email u

    Reply
  28. Ezzat
    April 4, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    We’ve seen some wide ranging commentary on your blog. Mabruk! :-). It means that your words are heard accross the political social spectrum, even by your opponents.

    And I would take this opportunity to learn tactics from them. As your opponents are closely monitoring you, your movement should also keep tabs on what is being said on the other side. Try to keep up with internet sites, blogs, meetings, other events, etc… Understand their game plan, tactics and internal debates.

    The media seems to be preoccupied with extremist Salafis even though they represent a very small voting block. Don’t fall for the distraction. Although the Salafis and the Ikhwan speak in different tones, their ultimate goals are not materially different. The latter speaks with a soft tongue while the former shouts loudly. But in many ways, your soft spoken opponents are far more dangerous on the political battlefield. As Bill Shakespeare once reminded us, “One may smile, and smile and be a Villian.”

    Finally, there appears to be an increasing (and unhealthy) bloodlust sweeping the country’s opposition movement. While prosecuting someone like Al Adli is probably the right thing to do, it seems that many vocal revolutionaries won’t be satisfied until the bawwab and the guy brought the emperor tea in the morning are sent to the gallows. It has become a witch hunt.

    Those advocates should ask themselves why is it that even though the Ikhwan have effectively “sold out” to the army, their only remaining demand is to hang anyone who was ever associated with the NDP? Why? Because in the new political landspace, the only two organized political forces are the NDP and the Ikhwan. You wipe out the NDP and the Ikhwan become the *sole* organized grassroots political force in the country. Is that what you want?

    Another author argued that the central issue with the NDP was rampant corruption. And I think this is largely true although I would also add lack of accountability and ruling with an iron fist. But the NDP was non-ideological and really attracted the power hungry.

    In many ways, reforming a party that takes dictates from personal greed is far easier than dealing with a party that takes dictates from God. You have two choices: (1) keep the NDP on life support (weakened) but change the rules of the game and institute specific measures that enforce accountability and independent oversight or (2) completely wipe out the NDP so that the Ikhwan are the sole organized political force left in Egypt.

    That choice is your’s. Personally, I am disappointed that we have too many Lenins and not enough Nelson Mandelas.

    Reply
  29. Vaudree
    April 4, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    So Sandmoney, you are advocating for strategic voting! Canadian NDP don’t like that much because it is usually the Liberals advocating for it – at their expense. Not going to compliment you because others beat me to it. ;)

    355 of the 444 elected ridings are the important ones. Agree with Ezzat, even if the MB eventually win those seats, it would be a good idea that they have to work hard to do so – keeps them busy and makes breakthroughs elsewhere easier. Low profile but skilled women would be good both because they provide a good contrast and running increases their profile for next time (save the high profile skilled women for the other ridings). If the MB figure they can win those seats without campaigning, then they can put all their resourses elsewhere. Also agree that their American Style attack ads will get worse and that you haven’t seen anything yet!

    Sad to hear that Baradei has a shitty campaign manager, he sounded really good. Avoiding gaffes and missteps, yeah. They need to know what sorts of tactics the other side is going to play and to come up with counter strategies. And the people preparing the candidate for the televised debate has to be sort of a devil’s advocate – to be able to fire at the candidate as if they were his/her opponents on steroids.

    6. I think that the MB is already beholden to Western interests. The trick is to blast each other publicly while not really doing anything to change foreign policy.

    7. One leak was a memo, which had a colourful way of saying that the team was planning to engage in personal attacks to destroy the other person’s credibility and reputation. In it they referred to the politician (Dalton McGuinty) as “an evil reptilian kitten eater from another planet.” The topic was brought up during a televised debate and McGuinty said: “I love kittens, and I like puppies too,” Let’s just say that the leak cost the Tories dearly since McGuinty won the election.

    An error that Obama made is that he did not manage expectations during his campaign.

    Joke: I know a man who married his son. He was already married to his son’s mother but he married his son. He is a minister and married his son to his son’s new wife. (Typical Catholic reaction: Can he do that?!)

    Canada has openly gay politicians, so no comment other than to say that even I know of groups devoted to gay Muslims who are interested in celebrating their faith and can name a few openly gay Canadian policians. And to the MB – I think they doth protest too much! :evil

    Reply
  30. thewiz
    April 4, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Ezzat made a good point; don’t spend much time going after the criminals of the last regime. There is plenty of time for that later but now the most important thing is the elections. Not only would trials be distracting but they could be used to anger the people further and get them to react emotionally rather than logically. That is how tyrants take over. Win the elections first and then go after the criminals.

    And it is true that a reformed NDP would be better than banning it and leaving the MB as the only organized party left standing. And a reformed party could peel away some of the less radical MB members.

    Reply
  31. leo
    April 5, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    WTF is going on with Egypt’s officials these day?

    First Baradei, now this fella – Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi.

    Who’s next?

    Do you really tango with IDF?

    Or is it the only way for you get popular vote in Egypt?

    Reply
    • Ahmad
      April 5, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      Leo,

      Regarding Dr. El Baradei’s alleged comment about “declaring war” on Israel if Israel attacks Gaza I have only seen this report in some unknown Israeli source “Ynet” and other sources that quote “Ynet.”

      I sincerely doubt it is true. If it were, you would have seen this comment appear in the more mainstream press: AFP, BBC, CNN, etc….

      If someone has a link from a “respectable” source please post it. For, if El Baradei really did say such a thing then this “democratic revolution” is over.

      Reply
      • leo
        April 5, 2011 at 5:23 pm

        OK, let’s wait a bit more.

        Reply
  32. Kat-Mo
    April 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    First, the reason El Baradei was so good at leading the revolution was he was a diplomat. He has had years of experience moving amongst differing groups with different agendas and attempting to get them to at least move somewhere together. That is what helped move the Revolutionary youth groups, all from different backgrounds and with largely different points of view, but all with a single idea that removing Mubarek and the rest was the single rallying point. Freedom in it’s simplest term from the existing tyrant.

    That does not mean that the end result that all of them expect from the new Egypt is the same “Freedom”.

    This is what makes El Baradei’s position precarious. As the distance from the revolution increases, the ideas that each group holds about this future “freedom” becomes a greater gap.

    Obviously, El Baradei understands that for anyone to take power in government, even the president, having left over members of the previous regime in charge allows for the possibility of undermining any efforts of reform and accountability. That is why he continues advocating the Revolution’s list of demands. He obviously feels that there can be no talk about what Egypt’s future democracy and freedom will look like without that. also, if he begins to advocate an idea, it might alienate some of his supporters and then he will lose the power base needed to keep pushing towards total reclamation of the Egyptian government.

    On the other hand, his inability to talk above the crowd and advocate for his vision of “peaceful democracy” leaves him and the future vulnerable to the framing by more powerful parties, such as the MB or even the NDP

    Including such ruinous ideas as the recent MB Shura member floated for some form of “modesty police”. As if, after 30 years in a police state, what Egypt needed was a modesty police. It needs an education system that is useful to every citizen. It needs an economic plan that jump starts agriculture, encourages business growth and allows for the gradual increase of wages. It needs a normal police department that has been educated in the rule of law, citizens rights, modern investigation, evidence retention and tracking, and an outside citizens accountability program that insures that any instances of violations of these rights or corruption are brought to the public and the commander’s attention for correction or prosecution.

    A modesty police along the lines of Saudi’s Vice and Virtue Muttawa is the least of Egypt’s needs, if ever.

    I followed the tweets on Sawiris FEP party. I liked that he was speaking about freedom very strongly. That is the message that needed to be taken into the street and needs to be translated into people’s everyday understanding of how it works for them beyond allowing people to demonstrate day in and day out. Which I am not against, but it doesn’t always translate to others who are still trying to make a living and support their families.

    How does freedom and individual rights protected by the government insure that the common man can get a job, own property and make money?

    From my perspective, this is the conversation that needs to be occurring out in the public square. Otherwise, people tend to see the situation as “say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss”. Just another group of people trying to tell them how to live. When, in fact, true freedom at least reduces the number of intrusions on what are ultimately personal decisions about life and conscience.

    However, I am looking forward to some kind of report on your experiences both with El Baradei and Sawiris FEP.

    On that note, I think I found it rather jarring when Sawiris said he would rather die than to fight a Muslim. Everyone is rushing to assure Muslims they are not under attack (they are 83% of the population, how much danger are they really in?) when I think it would have been better for Sawiris to have said he would die defending a Muslims’ right to practice his faith according to his own conscience.

    The same for every other religion because freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, is the bell-weather of a free society. It supports and is supported by ideas such as freedom of speech and freedom of the press. All meant to insure that citizens has the right to be informed, think and express his ideas on any subject and, ultimately, be able to direct his government. The entire idea of a democracy that is the government of the people.

    From my perspective, the MB is set to derail that. Not just for minority religions under a stricter interpretation of shariah, but for millions of Muslims who may not follow the Hanafi school of jurisprudence or even adhere to the same views of the MB. If article II remains along with any ministries or departments that over see religious institutions and education in Egypt, the MB will effectively control the religious ideology and propagation thereof for ALL MUSLIMS in Egypt. Not all of whom belong to the Brotherhood or practice Islam within the same strain, much less sect.

    I am surprised that this idea or discussion has not entered into anyone’s mind or discourse. Everyone is so afraid to talk about religion in fear of the great Muslim uprising when it is the millions of Muslims in Egypt who are at risk of being subsumed by the MB who has planted their flag on the grounds of defending Islam (but really just want their version to be the dominant strain). It is definitely a discussion that would allow the “liberals” and more secular govt types a wedge to get some room on this subject. Freedom of religion is for everyone, not just the minority religions.

    I am also interested to hear about all of these “elites” that seem to be the main goers to El Baradei’s and Sawiris’ soirees. How are these men going to relate to the people on the street?

    There are somewhere around 14million registered Egyptian voters that did not participate in the last referendum. They are going to be the “independents” that swing the votes for parliament and president. Someone has to figure out what it is that they want and put together a message. Or, at least put together a message that helps them formulate what they want.

    How do you translate the Freedom of Tahrir into the Freedom of the people. It isn’t about voting. any government can give people the right to vote. Witness Iran. It must be about the freedom to live and pursue their own interests without much government interference or organizing. Individuals are better at that than huge bureaucracies and more adapt at changing to meet challenges.

    But, i am preaching to the choir. message. There has to be a message.

    Reply
  33. An infidel
    April 5, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Looks like El Baradei is looking to get Egypt into a war already.
    When will the people of Islam wake up and realize that Israel isn’t the cause of their problems.
    Hamas is a terrorist organization. Egypt supports Hamas. Egypt supports terrorists.

    Reply
  34. Caerattern
    April 6, 2011 at 5:00 am

    Eygpt wants war, islam wants war. I say let’s get it over with and done. Egypt is overpopulated, and God knows there are too many muslims, we could call it a culling. I am worried about all those ancient artefacts, their loss will be tragic. Eygptian muslims seeing how they treat the Copts, go riddance.

    Reply
  35. Ezzat
    April 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Just a couple of new items related to your post:

    1) Ikhwan are now preparing to contest 49% of the parliament seats in order to “ensure reaching their goal of winning 35-40% of the seats.”

    http://www.almasryalyoum.com/node/389186

    2) Also, Islamist labour leader (and Ikhwan confidant) Magdy Ahmed Hussein has confirmed he is running for president and a senior Ikhwan leader, Abou el-Fattouh (a “reformer” who recently resigned from the party) is also seriously considering a presidential run.

    Is anyone still willing to seriously quote the Ikhwan rhetoric that they don’t want to “dominate” the new government at face value?

    To put this plainly: Wake the fu*k up before its too late and you too become a casualty of the very ‘revolution’ you instigated….

    Reply
    • leo
      April 6, 2011 at 8:59 pm

      Ezzat, if I may suggest.

      When posting in English not everyone is aware of what “Ikhwan” means.

      People are much more used to “Muslim Brotherhood”.

      Reply
  36. La Vuelta al Mundo de Asun y Ricardo
    April 6, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Congratulations on the nomination. Last year, our blog was awarded the Best Blog in Spanish Award, and the truth, the award ceremony is an event that will always remain a happy memory in our lives.
    Congratulations for your good work and good luck !
    Greetings.

    Reply
  37. pihua
    April 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Great piece. Check out Indonesia’s experience after the overthrow of Suharto in 1998, and the debates then about the role of his personal party, GOLKAR, in the new era, and the experience of Islamic parties there in a liberated parliament. GOLKAR, despite being tainted and discredited, was able to re-invent itself and has been an effective and responsible participant in post-Suharto parliamentary politics. It is also corrupt, of course, and still led by many old-style politicians. Indonesia has not enjoyed a revolutionary ‘leap forward’ to clean politics, but it has enjoyed greater freedom, stability and prosperity, something no-one expected in 1998.

    Reply
  38. ESSAM HELMY
    May 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    To the Sand Monkey: I really think you should run for a parliament seat. I belive that you have more qualifications then anyone of these clowns that will be running. You seem to have a good grasp of the western democratic model, espcially the American one, in which I belive is the closest that you will get to an ideal democracy.

    Reply
  39. ESSAM HELMY
    May 22, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    TO THE SAND MONKEY: I THINK THAT WHAT YOU ARE SUGGESTING TO RUN AN ELECTION IS ABOUT 100 YEARS AHEAD OF THE TIME. BUT IT IS ALWAYS NICE TO START SOMEWHERE.

    Reply
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