Prior to January 25th, Egyptians, apathetic, had steered themselves away from politics, and, at the end of the day, steered themselves clear from voting in presidential or parliamentary elections. Vote fraud, vote buying, known-ahead winners, and rubber-stamp parliaments had led Egyptians to perceive their voting rights as worthless. Starting with Nasser’s 99.9 percent win to Mubarak’s National Democratic Party 88.6 percent win, due process had never been followed causing Egyptians to withdraw from politics and its residuals.
With January 25th, Egyptians realized that their voices indeed counted and that indifference and apathy ultimately backfired. They chose to become involved, and since the 2011 parliament elections, Egyptians chose to practise their voting rights.
At times, authorities had to extend voting hours or even voting days to allow more voters to head to the polls. And at all times, media vigorously encouraged voters to head to the polls and practice their rights. But most of the time Egyptians cared enough to be involved. They headed to the polls out of their own free will. This was truly fundamental change.
What followed was perpetual visits to the polls. In a matter of four years, Egyptians went to the polls over a dozen times: to elect presidents, elect parliaments, endorse constitutions, and accept or reject referendums.
The last round of elections Egypt witnessed was the 2014 presidential elections when Abdel Fattah El Sisi won over 90 percent of the votes. Still, over 50 million Egyptians were eligible to vote and only half this number went to the polling stations. Maybe they were sure that El Sisi, the favoured choice, would win, and, as a result, didn’t bother to stand for hours on end, in the summer heat, to vote. But maybe they were totally fatigued after the dozen or more previous elections.
Having exhausted their election energy, they may say, at this point, let’s not worry about parliament elections that much; Egypt is already in good hands. So, in less than two weeks Egyptians should be heading to the polls yet again, but will they? And that is the million dollar question.
If Egyptians choose incorrectly or choose not to choose at all, the end result will be catastrophic. Apathy will lead to disaster. This is why.
One sole reason for this worry comes to mind: the resurgence of an Islamist parliamentary coalition, incognito, possibly, but a resurgence nonetheless. According to Ex-General Seif El Yazal, “I can assure you the Brotherhood will be in parliament. The Brotherhood will enter parliament as independents and will reveal ... once they have won, that they are Brotherhood.
Indeed, Muslim Brotherhood members and other Islamist groups will be joining forces with the Al Nour, the Salafist, Party, the back door for the Muslim Brotherhood to enter parliament, and though they may have different platforms and come across as substantially conflicting and incompatible, all Islamists will choose the only other Islamist party in the race. And if Egyptians, liberalists, secularists, and moderates that is, do not want Islamists back in the parliament again, they need to stand against the imminent Islamist force.
In the 2012 parliament election, Islamists, with El Nour Party in the lead, got over 20 percent of the votes gaining 127 seats of the almost 500 seats. Then after Morsi’s ousting, El Nour Party distanced itself from the Muslim Brotherhood—the reason? Al Nour Party will side with anyone to achieve its goals and remain in power. Formal Salafist organizations accepted being co-opted by the state after the coup to secure their existence and bid for gradual political advances. Doing so, however, undermined their ideological character and credibility.
Didn’t Islamists say that Muslims should not vote for non-Muslims? Weren’t Copts banned from voting in some ridings? And yet, 24 Christian Copts have been included in the electoral lists of the ultraconservative al-Nour Islamist party. What this stark contradiction proves is that the Al Nour Party will go any route to maintain a strong hold on the Egyptian parliament. It would even go against its own ideology to qualify and reach its goal.
This while the 2014 constitution rigidly controls the choices the president makes as far as the government, ministers, and policy makers are concerned. Egypt's constitution endows the new parliament with wide powers. "..., it can reject the president's choice for prime minister or withdraw its confidence in him. It can block him from sacking the government, even impeach the president himself." This is a vital round that Egyptians must take seriously and realize that the course that this country will take falls on the incoming parliament.
In no way am I proclaiming a rubber stamp parliament. Quite the contrary, but a parliament that works with versus works against the government trumps a parliament that is pre-emptively set to dissolve the government and impeach the president.
Egyptians, go to the polls and choose wisely. You may be controlling Egypt’s destiny in the action.