Egypt Elections: Al- Wafd Party

Al-Wafd is one of the old, established political parties seeking to find their place in post-uprising Egypt. Rooted in history—today’s party, technically the New Wafd but always referred to simply as the Wafd, is the successor to the once powerful organization Nasser disbanded in 1952.

Al-Wafd is one of the old, established political parties seeking to find their place in post-uprising Egypt. Rooted in history—today’s party, technically the New Wafd but always referred to simply as the Wafd, is the successor to the once powerful organization Nasser disbanded in 1952. It is facing the competition of new liberal parties that cannot claim a historical name and legacy but have younger and more dynamic leaders. The Wafd’s difficulties are shown by its uncertain alliances. Although it is officially a member of the Democratic Alliance, it is considering joining the liberal parties in the Egypt Bloc. The wavering on this issue has lost the party some important members.

The New Wafd Party was established on February 4, 1978, a successor to the party that played the central role in Egyptian politics for decades, until it was banned after the 1952 revolution. The Wafd was one of several political parties that emerged when President Anwar Sadat introduced limited pluralism into the political process. Despite its glorious historical antecedents, the New Wafd has struggled ever since it was revived with internal divisions, aging leaders and lack of dynamism, a situation that did not improve even after 2001, when the leadership was transferred from Fouad Siraj al-Din, a pre-1952 secretary-general, to a somewhat younger Noman Gomaa. The situation worsened further when Ayman Nour launched the al-Ghad Party in 2004 after resigning from the Wafd, taking with him almost a quarter of the Wafd Party’s members. Historically the party of the business elites and the Copts, the Wafd has had trouble holding on to those constituencies and attracting new ones. The business elites gravitated toward the National Democratic Party, particularly after the launching of economic reforms. Copts became leery after the Wafd entered into a short-lived electoral alliance with the Muslim Brothers in 1984.

During the 2010 parliamentary elections the Wafd confused voters by participating in the first round of voting, announcing that it would not participate in the second round because elections were fraudulent after only winning two seats, then winning six seats when the names of its candidates were not removed from the ballot in time, but being unable to claim its seats because it had called for an election boycott.

The overthrow of Mubarak caused a new crisis for the troubled party. Its secretary-general, Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, accepted a position as minister of tourism in the new cabinet formed by Prime Mister Ahmed Shafiq.  His decision alienated many Wafdists because the cabinet included ministers affiliated with the old regime and Nour was forced to resign his position.

Divisions continue to plague the Wafd. The party has joined the Democratic Alliance, but prominent party members recommended in August that it withdraw and join the Egypt Bloc instead. While the party did not switch sides at that time, some prominent members did, further weakening the party and adding to the impression of uncertainty it has been projecting for a long time.

Platform:

Political Issues:

  • Imposing a two-term limit on the presidency and decreasing the power of the president
  • Enforcing separation of powers between the three branches of government and ensuring the independence of the judiciary, particularly of the Supreme Constitutional Court
  • Ensuring human rights and democracy
  • Abolishing all special security courts and repealing the emergency law
  • Requiring the nomination of a vice-president
  • Enacting a law allowing the prosecution of ministers and members of the executive branch
  • Eliminating corruption from judicial appointments, which should be based solely on the basis of merit and service
  • Giving parliament the right to accept or reject any bill without having to consent to conditions or amendments mandated by the executive
  • Ensuring free and fair elections without corruption
  • Repealing all laws that restrict the exercise of civil liberties
  • Guaranteeing freedom of expression for any idea that does not contradict public morality
  • Protecting privacy rights, freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, and freedom to form trade unions

Socio-economic Issues:

  • Developing a free private sector and limiting the public sector to crucial areas that affect the general welfare, including basic services such as health care, electricity, water, telephone, roads, and security
  • Forbidding monopolies of all types
  • Ensuring freedom of trade and commerce, allowing supply and demand to dictate the market and not the government
  • Deregulating the banking industry, especially by abrogating regulations that hinder investment
  • Improving the education of the Egyptian populace while not neglecting spirituality and religion in the educational system
  • Promoting alternative forms of education to increase literacy, including online and distance education

Foreign Policy Issues:

  • Restoring Egypt’s role as regional leader through its strategic position in the Arab world
  • Strengthening the Arab League and using diplomacy to mediate differences so Arabs can arrive to common positions
  • Working to establish a common Arab market
  • Strengthening democracy through the Arab world by making Egypt a model for the region
  • Supporting a free and independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital
  • Rejecting the label of terrorism on violent resistance to Israeli occupation
  • Pressuring Israel through all means to withdraw from the occupied territories, but respecting all international agreements signed between the Palestinians and the Israelis
  • Ensuring that the strategic Egyptian-American relationship remains strong but that it is based upon a balance of interests
  • Rejecting the U.S. bias toward the state of Israel and the use of U.S. aid to Egypt since the peace treaty of 1979 to serve the interests of America or Israel
  • Rejecting the U.S. doctrine of preemptive and preventative wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and pushing the United States to announce a timetable for withdrawal from both of these countries
  • Conditioning normal relations with Israel on return of the entire West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians, the Golan to Syria, and the remaining Lebanese territories to Lebanon and closing the nuclear reactor at Dimona.

Parliamentary Representation:

People’s Assembly Elections

2010: 6 seats (the six winning candidates could not claim their seats due to the Wafd’s official stance in favor of an electoral boycott)

2005: 6 seats (as part of the National Front for Change)

2000: 7 seats

1995: 6 seats

1987: 35 seats

1984: 50 (in alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, which took 8 of the seats)

Shura Council Elections

2010: 1 seat (fielded 10 candidates)

2007: Boycotted

Major Party Figures:
Sayyid al-Badawi: Chairman
Fouad Badrawi: Deputy Chairman
Ahmed ‘Auda: Secretary General
Monir Fakhri Abdel Nour: Secretary General and parliamentary representative, resigned

Websites:
http://alwafdparty.org/
http://www.alwafd.org/ (newspaper)
http://ar-ar.facebook.com/Alwafdparty (Facebook)

From Guide to Egypt’s Transition, Carnegie Endowment for International Peacehttp://egyptelections.carnegieendowment.org/2011/09/20/al-wafd-delegation-party

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active international engagement by the United States. Founded in 1910, its work is nonpartisan and dedicated to achieving practical results.

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