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Political Parties Are the Frameworks of Democracy: Issues in the Transition to Democracy in Egypt Part 2

Posted on the 11 April 2011 by Warigia @WarigiaBowman

Dear readers
These are my notes from the question and answer session of a really amazing lecture I attended at the American University in Cairo, Tahrir Campus. The lecture was held on Tuesday, March 29, 2011. These lectures are part of the Tahrir Dialogue Series were sponsored by the AUC School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP) and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. The speakers included Dr. Ibrahim Awad (Director of the Center of Migration and Refugee Services at AUC), Dr. Nevine Mossaad (Institute of Arab Research and Studies Cairo University), Dr. Ibrahim El Issawy (National Planning Institute, People's Alliance Party), Dr. Amr El Shobaky (Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies) and Dr. Samer Soliman (AUC and Social Democratic Party). Simultaneous translation was provided. [] means I am adding in my own summary or interpretation, or pointing to something I may have left out. Any errors in transcription are my own. WMB
Questions from the Audience for Ibrahim
1. Economic Cost of the Revolution
2. We did not have a market economy before. How do we create one?
3. Six point program- how does it affect investment?
4. Nasr/National Project/Arab Israel Conflict
Ibrahim El Issawy
Regarding Economic costs. I make my calculations based on the ministry of finance. $610 million Egyptian Pounds (LE) daily were lost during the revolution. Such losses will continue for two months. The total would be 37 billion LE. This is the equivalent to the national economy over 9 days. This is not a big cost for a revolution that will lead to social justice and human dignity.
Can the economy go back to pre-financial crisis levels? Well, the government reports under Mubarak that Egypt was growing at 7% were not true. I have been saying this for forty years. Maybe the growth rate was at 4%. In terms of what citizens got, maybe it was at 2%. Let us say the economy was grwoing at 4%. We can get back to that. There was a lot of distortion in the economy [under Mubarak] Corruption was beyong our imagination. Liberalization was designed to open our markets to the West to service them. Let's look at the Eastern Tigers. We cannot copy things. We need a new developmental philosophy.
Questions from Audience for Niveen
1. Tripartite political parties?
2. Is the new party going to allow competitiveness?
3. Is there a pact between the Military and the old regime?
4. Are there MB Links with Hamas?
[One strange thing] is that I hardly see any of the faces we saw throughout for 18 days. Opposition is something we need. The Military Council is practicing control of the media. The Military Council is not impartial. I do not think I am going home today {laughter, referring to endangering herself with this statement}. There is a partnership between the Military Council and the Muslim Brotherhood. It is clear. And the major powers who pushed for amendments are NDP. Another proof. Formation of Sayed Mashaal. [Not sure about this].
How can we have constitutional amendments without dialogue? [The military thinks they can take] step 1,2,3, and after that the democratic system will appear. [We tried that in Iraq and it did not work] It is only form, and not content. Everyone is talking about a civil state. Muslim Brotherhood will run for presidency. Now we are in the middle of a competition, but we are not equal. Some parties have had a head start. {Muslim Brotherhood and National Democratic Party}.
Iran’s leadership has a double standard. They supported the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions. They are supporting the revolution in Bahrain. Iran supports Bashar and Hezbollah. Inside and outside. I do not think there is a relationship between Moshed and MB. Not inspired. The Iranian Revolution has a specific meaning.
Questions for Samr Soliman
1. Do political parties have time to prepare?
2. How can the Youth participate in the election?
3. Critique of 5000 yet afraid of disintegration.
4. Can we work without any political parties?
The law on political parties law is very traditional It is a trusteeship of the Egyptian People like the presidency rule. It is tailored to drive some people away from the Presidency. 5000 signatures are too many. Suppose 10 persons want a watermelon party. Let them have it. Give them a chance. You have to publish names in 2 papers? That could cost one million Egyptian pounds. This is discrimination against those who cannot afford this amount.
The law is not final. We can struggle against the political parties law. There is no alternative to the elections. We have six months to establish parties. We must enter into a revolutionary front. We will have some weak parties. Practice will correct everything.
Do we need political parties? We are in a difficult situation regarding social justice. The Egyptian people are peaceful. We are starting to exercise our political freedoms. The civil defense forces [were revolutionary] Political parties are important. We need them. They are the frameworks that organize the people.

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