Egyptian journalist Khaled El-Balshy was elected as the head of Egypt’s Journalism Syndicate (EJS) on Friday, 17 March, according to the Judicial Committee supervising the Journalist’ Syndicate midterm elections.
El-Bashy won, securing a total of 2,450 out of 5,062 eligible votes against his opponent Khaled Miri, editor-in-chief of nationally owned news outlet, Al-Akhbar Al-Youm, who got 2,211.There were 51 candidates competing during the elections; 11 candidates ran for the head of the syndicate, while 40 candidates ran for seats in the council.
His campaign focused on the reinstallment of independent journalism in Egypt. He said his campaign’s main objective was to “free Egypt’s press industry from the grip of monopolistic powers and recapture the syndicate’s independence and freedom,” he El-Bashy noted.
El-Balshy is a prominent figure in Egypt’s journalism scene. He worked for Rosa Al-Youssef newspaper from 1998 until 2005, and served as Vice President of Al-Dustour newspaper from 2005 until 2006. He also served as the editor-in-chief for Al-Badeel newspaper from 2007 until 2012, and is currently the editor-in-chief for Darb, a news outlet affiliated with the opposition Socialist Popular Movement Party, to which access is blocked within Egypt.
In his campaign, he also discussed the salaries of journalists, where a recent graduate’s starting monthly salary can be as low as EGP 1,158 (USD 38), and at times goes no further than EGP 5,181 (USD 170) at the age of retirement, or after 30 years of service. He stressed the importance of increasing salaries to commensurate with the Central Bank of Egypt’s recent core inflation rate, which showed that inflation jumped as high as 40 per cent in February.
في أمل ❤️ pic.twitter.com/uhLrDaajq1
— Ahmed Ragab (@Ragab) March 17, 2023
His plan also includes increasing the syndicate’s financial allowance by 40 percent in line with president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s new packages of social support measures, which include social support measures such as wage hikes, pension increases, and tax breaks.
For many journalists in Egypt, El-Balshy’s election as the leader of an independent news outlet against a government candidate comes with waves of hope and newness.