By AbdelKader Ramadan, Aswat Masriya
Throughout 18 days of fierce campaigning ahead of the first phase of Egypt’s parliamentary elections which begin tomorrow, few if any political parties or coalitions have provided a clear economic platform despite the fact that financial concerns are uppermost on voters’ agendas.
The first phase of elections will be held abroad and at home on Oct. 17-19 and the second on Nov. 21-23.
Since no economic policy trends have emerged among individual candidates, Aswat Masriya has shed light on the promises of competing parties.
The Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) approved six party lists: Nedaa Misr (Egypt Call), Sahwa Watanya Mostqala (Independent National Awakening), Fi Hob Misr (For the love of Egypt), Al-Nour Party (the Salafi Nour party list), Fersan Misr (Knights of Egypt), E’etelaf al-Gabha al-Masriya (Egytian Coalition Front), Tayar Alestiqalal (The Independence Current).
Front-runner Fi Hob Misr list includes 10 parties, the most prominent of which, are Al Wafd Party, Masriyeen El-Ahrar (The Free Egyptians), founded by telecom magnate Naguib Sawaris. It is the only list competing for all 120 seats allocated to the list system
Forty percent of the members of this list belong to liberal parties, who’s goal is to apply a free market economy, which, according to one candidate on the list, is averse to an economic policy with “socialist leanings.”
Al-Gabha Al-Masriya and Tayar Alestiqlal list include 42 parties, the most prominent of which is El Harakah El Wataniya (the Nationalist Movement) headed by Mubarak-era minister and ex-army general Ahmed Shafiq, Misr Baladi (My Country Egypt) headed by Kadry Abu Hussien and Al-Geel party (The Generation Party) headed by Nagy Al-Shehabi.
A leading figure on this list says that they aim to recover the Egyptian economy through the elimination of “brutal” capitalism and privatization. He adds that the alliance of of both lists believes that “businessmen should acquire their rights according to the law and not through influence.”
He pointed out that his list is focused on developing the cooperatives sector, imposing progressive taxation and supporting small and medium-sized enterprises.
Al-Nour list, which only includes members of the Al-Nour Party, said in its campaign flyers that the party has a comprehensive developmental program, that will ensure that state revenues will return to the treasury and improve the living conditions of the poor and middle classes. The party’s slogan is “Ambition and Clarity” and says that it will work on achieving justice in all its aspects.
The Egypt Call list includes four parties: The Egyptian Revolution, The New Independent Party, The Protectors of the Homeland Party, and The Arab Party for Justice and Equality, as well as some youth movements.
A leading figure on the list told Aswat Masriya that since he knows that the list will not win a majority enabling it to form a government, they have decided not to offer an integrated economic vision.
However, he added, members of the list “have ideas for boosting the economy, removing obstacles facing investors, fighting corruption and collecting taxes efficiently.”
The Sahwa Wataneya Mostqala list (Independent National Awakening), includes some movements and political coalitions but no parties, and has not announced any economic programs.
The same applies to the Forsan Misr list (Knitghts of Egypt) which only includes candidates that belong to the Knights of Egypt Party.