In the previous article, we made nine observations on what we considered to be the main features of the current political scene, so that we could anticipate the changes that could occur in the coming period. Overall, these observations included a decline in the popularity of the authority and its insistence on moving along the same pathways; in addition to the lack of interest in consulting with the opposition or even the rest of the ruling elites. This means that the power is concentrated in the hands of a handful of people that will rely on repression even more by time. On the other hand, the Brotherhood forces and Mubarak supporters are the most latent potential forces in light of the increasing weakness of democratic forces as a result of increased vulnerability, in light of the continued fear of a large proportion of the public that the outbreak of any popular movements could lead to chaos. Moreover, youth are also abandoning the scene and are becoming reluctant to participate in the political movement, as a direct result of the growing imprisonment and spread of frustration.
Meanwhile, based on the previously mentioned observations, we can anticipate, in the short term starting now and ending with the 2018 presidential elections– and perhaps the medium term as well, which is between the presidential election in 2018 to the pre-presidential elections of 2022, the polarization of the political community is likely to increase. The concentration of power in the hands of a few could become even more concentrated, and the number of opposition forces is likely to increase, and repression could worsen. The political arena, and even the political work space, could recede, or rather fade and dry out.
Nevertheless, on the short and medium terms, the factors of discontent that accumulate with no peaceful and safe mechanisms for change will inevitably lead to a change by “coup,” “sudden,” or “explosive change.” The main constituency of governance may succeed in avoiding this type of change through taking precautionary measures. The regime could fulfil some demands and answer to pressure and amend some aspects of governance. This will be done either with the consent of all parties or by forcing some of them to obedience, especially the parties that will be excluded.
Whether the change was made before the explosion, during or after it; there is a possibility that the Muslim brotherhood and/or the “remnants of the old regime” will return to the top of the political scene at any sharp political turning point (again: we mean any precautionary or precautionary change or sudden change during or after a popular explosion). This comeback is likely to be by building an alliance or a deal with some of the current authority figures, a small but an important possibility, is that the alliance of these symbols with what might be left of the democratic forces according to the first scenario:
The alliance of some of the current symbols of power with the Muslim Brotherhood would lead to a change in the direction of building a state that mixes between the model of the Muslim religious state—even if slightly less conservative—with the model of the 1953 state. This will be similar to the model adopted by Mubarak and later on Abdel Fattah el-Sisi—a slightly different versions of the same model. In general, it is an anti-democratic coalition, but its first days will see a kind of democratic détente imposed by the necessities of absorbing the forces of anger that are about to explode, or have already exploded. This deflation will give the opportunity for perhaps a few years of a democratic political activity that might consolidate the democratic forces on the ground.
However, the most important obstacle to the possibility of achieving this scenario is not the hostility that resulted from the clash between the current authority and the Brotherhood only. This had happened before, yet, they shook hands and allied again. What really hinders this possibility is the failure of last time’s alliance was not a matter for the parties, but rather the large public discontent after monitoring the performance of the MB. The same people will not be easily convinced with the brotherhood again.
According to the second scenario, the alliance between some of the current symbols of power and the “Gamal Mubarak” group in the broad political-economic sense of the word means the economic construction of an economic market in accordance with the dictates of “savage capitalism”. It is noteworthy that the current regime took a long course in this direction, but on the political level, it means many more administrative reforms with the alleviation of tyranny together with the “alleviation of poverty”!!
We can say that what hinders this scenario is the lack of popularity on which the parties can build. In addition, after implementing the entire “savage capital program”, the situation will require more than the IMF protocols that aim for “alleviation of poverty”!!
Finally, according to the third scenario, the alliance between some of the current symbols of power and the rest of the democratic forces could lead to a stage of democratic transformation and social reform, as it may be the only way out of scenarios will reproduce the crisis again from bad edition to worse edition.
In light of the above, in the short and medium term, and with the narrowing of the public sphere and the decline of any possibility of “legitimate” political action, the parties push into one of two possibilities:
– To make concessions to the authority time after time to mingle with the regime and become a follower. Some of the parties have already done that and lost some of the credibility and justification for their existence.
– The transformation into a radical revolutionary circle. Parties that try to maintain their credibility and the purity of their positions are motivated by the practices of the security services and the repression they are subjected to taking radical and confrontational positions. This leads to the moderate currents within these parties that desire a safe political action. In order to distance themselves from the parties. In time, these parties, after the imprisonment of a few of their members and their leaders, and the withdrawal of many more members and leaders, may turn into radical circles without influence.
The party now and even all the political parties are at the crossroads. What is certain is that our party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, will not give up its positions and will maintain its credibility until the end. It will not be compatible with the authority and will not become a follower or a substitute for its positions and policies. We can not, as a legitimate social democratic party operating under the constitution, consider ourselves part of the institutions of the Egyptian state, and not a radical revolutionary group operating outside the constitution and aimed at undermining the state. Can we continue to work and move under the current conditions?
Is there an open field of movement and influence in light of the repeated postponement of the elections of local councils, syndicates and student unions. Does the authoritarian atmosphere hint any real presidential elections or any other elections in the pipelines, following the previous parliamentary elections, which were marred by many abuses and violations?!
Will our party, and the opposition parties, become a mere platform for issuing data that will not find widespread media coverage? Will we accept that our only possible and available role is to provide support and assistance to our imprisoned colleagues and activists?
It is not about our readiness, I mean, our willingness, not just a group of us, to provide a heavy cost for political action, which is not about courage or cowardice, but about the feasibility of making sacrifices for the expected results. It also relates that our party members eventually joined the party under conditions and data confirm that we are about a stage of democratic transition, and that political action in general has become secure for previous historical periods. On the other hand it is also linked to whether or not there is room for action and movement originally or not, in the absence of electoral processes either by postponement or brutal tyranny. Under the confiscation of the media, and in preventing the parties from organizing any public events—in light of all this; what can we do except issuing limited data, meeting at the party headquarters or “running behind people in prisons”?
Based on the above, this trend calls for the dissolution of the party or the freezing of activity until the political circumstances change.
On the other hand, another trend sees that the continuation and survival of our party will be a raised banner in which the forces of change can converge and, at the next moment, can join forces with other forces to save the country at any sharp political juncture. In addition, the role of our party at the political level is now important and necessary and illuminates a glimmer of light in the current blackness of the country. The absence of this light means more frustration and the despair of the forces of change, and finish off the rest of the spirit of resistance. We can practice our political role is a certain degree of balance and wisdom, in addition we can try to play a bigger role in the struggle of any local or factional aimed at improving people’s lives.
This trend, which demands that we continue to recognize that our forces will be eroded in the short term, and that we may be subject to security strikes because of our political positions no matter how we try to avoid this, and in clear and specific wording: We can minimize the losses but we can not avoid them completely.
Farid Zahran is a publisher and writer. He is the co-founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party