Egypt’s opposition has attacked President Mohammed Morsi decision to call for parliamentary elections in April, a move one opposition leader denounced as ‘‘a recipe for disaster’’ because of the current political turmoil.
But opposition groups “face a test of unity in challenging Islamists who have won every poll since the 2011 revolution,” Reuters reports:
No sooner had Morsi called the parliamentary polls on Thursday than liberals and leftists accused him of deepening divisions between Islamists and their opponents. Some threatened to boycott voting which starts on April 27th and finishes in late June……Islamists hailed elections as the only way out of Egypt’s political and economic crisis. However, liberal politician Mohamed ElBaradei said holding polls without reaching a national consensus would further “inflame the situation”.
“The insistence on polarisation, exclusion and oppression along with … the deteriorating economic and security situation will lead us to the abyss,” said Mohamed ElBaradei, a former United Nations agency chief, said on his Twitter feed.
Essam el-Erian (above right), deputy leader of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, said he expects Islamists to win about 75 percent of the seats and warned opposition groups against a boycott.
‘‘Everyone understands the importance of this stage and that the absence of their voice is a big mistake and will mean a lengthy absence from parliament, its parties and its politics during this stage of building Egypt,’’ he said.
With Egypt so polarized, the stakes are high for the FJP, observers suggest:
The party has said it will seek an outright majority in the vote, an outcome that would allow Morsi administration to press ahead with its plans for a country caught in political limbo despite the Islamist victory in last year’s presidential vote…..The opposition must now decide whether to take part in the vote and try to gain a foothold in Egypt’s elected institutions or boycott in an attempt to deny legitimacy to the process, analysts said.
“We face a difficult political decision and time is running out. The opposition faces a test of its ability to remain united,” said Amr Hamzawy(above left),a professor of politics at Cairo University and former liberal lawmaker.
While the opposition can agree on attacking Mursi, previous boycott threats have fizzled out. It remains fractured and disorganized, unlike the well-financed and efficient Islamist election machines which have triumphed in votes for the presidency and parliament.
“This confronts them with a real dilemma,” said Nathan Brown, professor of political science at George Washington University and an Egypt expert.
“If you have a majority that is very sympathetic to the president, then the president can do an awful lot,” said Brown. “If you have a parliament that is fractured, you could have a system of infighting and even gridlock.”