Egypt: Profile of the Revolution Continues Alliance

The following profile of the left-wing Revolution Continues electoral alliance was published in the Egyptian weekly newspaper Ahram Online and Jadilayya. After considering suspending its participation in the November 28-December 5, 2011, Egyptian election, the alliance decided to resume its campaign.

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November 18, 2011 -- Revolution Continues coalition members: the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Egyptian Socialist Party, the Egyptian Current Party, the Egypt Freedom Party, Equality and Development Party, the Revolution’s Youth Coalition, the Egyptian Alliance Party.

The Revolution Continues Alliance (RCA) is an electoral coalition that, according to its members, comprises an ideologically diverse set of actors, namely liberal, Islamists and socialists, including youth of the Muslim Brotherhood who defected from the group and helped form the Egyptian Current Party. According to Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPA) member Abdel Ghaffar Shukr, the RCA stands for freedom, social equality and human rights. It consists of the SPA, the Egyptian Socialist Party, the Egyptian Current Party, the Freedom Egypt Party, Equality and Development Party, the Revolution’s Youth Coalition (RYC) and the Egyptian Alliance Party.

Through 280 candidates (out of a possible 332), the RCA is contesting 34 (out of a possible 46) party list races for the 508-member lower house of parliament. Additionally, 26 (out of a possible 166) candidates will contest single-winner seats. The legal framework governing the elections gives the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) the right to appoint 10 of the 508 members of the lower house.

According to Egyptian Current Party leader and former Muslim Brotherhood member, Islam Lotfy, 100 of these candidates are below the age of 40. The majority of candidates that the alliance will field belong to the SPA, according to RCA member Khaled Abdel Hamid. Some 32are affiliates of the Egyptian Current Party. The Egypt Freedom Party had announced in late October plans to field only 22 candidates, including party founder Amr Hamzawy, who is contesting a single-winner seat in Cairo. Two of the coalition’s electoral lists will feature women in their top spots, namely Karima Al-Hefnawy of the Egyptian Socialist Party and actress Taysir Fahmy of the Equality and Development Party.

The alliance’s electoral lists will feature the name of the SPA, since it is the only party in the coalition with legal authorisation to contest party list parliamentary seats. Participation in the party list races is limited to registered parties by law. On the other hand, some of the RCA’s affiliates running for single-winner races will be identified on the ballots as “independent” candidates even though they are politically sponsored by the coalition.

Due to much confusion and disagreement, the RCA was formed shortly before the candidate registration deadline. Many of the parties constituting the RCA were initially members of the Egyptian Bloc, a secular-leaning alliance that once included the SPA, the Egypt Freedom Party and the Egyptian Socialist Party. These parties withdrew from the bloc, reportedly due to inter-party conflicts over seat shares and the relative positions of various candidates in the coalition’s electoral lists. Disagreements were also associated with allegations that some parties are fielding ex-members of dictator Mubarak's former ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) on the bloc’s lists to the dismay of member groups that oppose any participation by ex-regime elements in the elections.

According to Ahmed Bahaa Shabaan, head of the Egyptian Socialist Party, the Egyptian Bloc also prioritised some parties over others. In the coming election, two-thirds of parliamentary seats will be filled through a closed party list system. The fact that each list consists on average of only seven seats makes it difficult for a large number of parties to cooperate in a single coalition. All coalitions experienced similar defections once they started forming their joint electoral lists.

Many of the parties that withdrew from the Egyptian Bloc quickly formed the new Revolution Continues Alliance carrying a more social-oriented agenda. The RYC and the Egyptian Current Party almost withdrew from the RCA one week before the candidate registration deadline, objecting that the SPA was dominating the top positions of all lists at the expense of the youth groups. The problem was quickly renegotiated to allow more youth members to head lists and the RCA was able to submit its candidate rosters before the official registration deadline.

Titled “Security, Freedom and Social Justice”, the RCA’s platform, which it announced in early November, focuses on re-establishing law and order, promoting social justice and closing the income gap between the rich and the poor. According to the platform, members of the alliance, if elected, would work immediately on re-establishing security and cleansing state institutions of corruption —particularly the police, judiciary, state media and public universities. They would also work on passing a national budget that provides for unemployment benefits and increases state spending on health care, education and public housing.

The RCA platform commits its members to providing decent housing conditions to those living in slums, and to establishing a just minimum wage and a maximum wage that does not exceed 15 times the minimum. The platform calls for cancelling all the debts of small-scale farmers and protecting the rights of tenant farmers vis-à-vis landowners.

The RCA’s platform also pledges to set a clear timetable for the transfer of power from the ruling military council to an elected civilian leadership by mid-2012, end emergency law, cease the practice of trying civilians in military courts and allow Egyptians living abroad to vote in elections. The platform also supports the equality of all citizens irrespective of religion, class and gender, and stresses the importance of religious freedom for all Egyptians.

The platform supports reconfiguring US-Egyptian relations in such a way that ensures equality and symmetry within this partnership. The RCA vows to terminate the normalisation of relations with Israel, and to revise relevant Egyptian-Israeli agreements in order for Egypt to regain full sovereignty over Sinai, including the right to deploy troops in the peninsula. According to its platform, the RCA supports the right of the Palestinian people to establish their own state through any means possible, including armed struggle. The document, however, distinguishes between legitimate armed struggles, and illegitimate and unacceptable violent acts deliberately targeting members of other sectarian, national or religious groups.

The Revolution Continues Alliance announced on November 20, 2011, that it had suspended its election campaign in protest of the recent clampdown against protesters in Tahrir Square.

[The alliance on November 27 signed on to a joint statement stating they would not cancel their campaign, while calling for the public to join the protests.]