Egypt Elections: al-Wasat (Center Party)

Al-Wasat, as its name indicates, is a moderate Islamist party, originally a spin-off from the Muslim Brotherhood that was finally allowed to register in 2011 after fifteen years of unsuccessful efforts. The party is in talks to join the Third Way alliance when it is announced.

CEIPLogo_RGBNEW

Al-Wasat, as its name indicates, is a moderate Islamist party, originally a spin-off from the Muslim Brotherhood that was finally allowed to register in 2011 after fifteen years of unsuccessful efforts. The party is in talks to join the Third Way alliance when it is announced.

Al-Wasat was founded in 1996 when several young but well-respected members of the Muslim Brotherhood broke away from the organization to form a political party. Abu al-‘Ila Madi took charge of the newly formed party and was assisted by fellow Brotherhood defectors Salah ‘Abd al-Karim and Essam Sultan. The party’s religious ideology is drawn from the Wasatiyya (Centrist) school of thought, a liberal interpretive tradition in Islamic thinking that is firmly anchored in Islamic law but seeks to interpret its principles in a manner consistent with the values of a liberal democratic system.

The party immediately ran into trouble with both the government and the Muslim Brotherhood. The founders were accused by the Mubarak regime of setting up a front for the banned Muslim Brotherhood, while the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood promptly expelled all members who joined the new organization. Al-Wasat applied for legal party status in 1996, 1998, 2004, and 2009, but the application was denied for a variety of reasons until the 2011 uprising. Despite its lack of legal status during that period, al-Wasat sought to cooperate with other parties and organizations in efforts to bring about political reform.

Platform:

Political Issues:

  • Guaranteeing equal citizenship rights to all Egyptians, regardless of religion, sex, race, status, or wealth, all emergency laws and special courts, and limiting the scope of such laws to actual catastrophes
  • Imposing term limits on the presidency and reducing the powers of the executive branch
  • Supporting free elections and allowing a peaceful transfer of power
  • Ensuring the right to form political parties, associations, and all civil society institutions
  • Promoting transparency and accountability in government

Socio-economic Issues:

  • Alleviating hardship for the poor and middle classes
  • Controlling inflation
  • Achieving higher, balanced growth rates in all sectors of the economy to satisfy the basic needs of the population
  • Supporting investment in the private sector
  • Encouraging communities to fight poverty through local development projects and zakat (alms) institutions
  • Reaffirming the social and moral characteristics of Arab-Islamic civilization
  • Introducing comprehensive educational reforms and combating illiteracy
  • Providing universal health insurance to all Egyptians and improving the quality of public hospitals

Foreign Policy Issues:

  • Prioritizing relationships with Sudan and Nile Basin countries
  • Supporting efforts to resolve the Palestinian question
  • Encouraging cooperation between Arab countries in military, political, economic, and cultural affairs

Major Party Figures:
Abu al-‘Ila Madi: Founder and President
Essam Sultan: Leading party member
Salah ‘Abd al-Karim: Leading Party member and member of the party’s political bureau

Websites:
http://www.alwasatparty.com
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2389706888 (Facebook)

From Guide to Egypt’s Transition, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: http://egyptelections.carnegieendowment.org/2010/09/16/center-al-wasat-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.

Related Posts

  • CEIPLogo_RGBNEWEgypt Elections: Al-Ghad Party Originally a splinter from the Wafd Party, al-Ghad has maintained its liberal orientation but has joined the Democratic Alliance with the Freedom and Justice Party rather than the Egypt Bloc with most other liberal parties. Troubled by internal dissensions exacerbated by the Mubarak […]
  • CEIPLogo_RGBNEWEgypt Elections: Freedom and Justice Party The Freedom and Justice Party was formed by the Muslim Brotherhood in May 2011 and is the dominant Islamist party in Egypt. It could receive a plurality of votes in the election, although not a majority. Aware of the fears that surround its participation, the party defines itself as a […]
  • CEIPLogo_RGBNEWEgypt Elections: Egyptian Liberation Party The Egyptian Liberation Party is a new Islamist party with a strong Sufi influence. The party was founded by Ibrahim Zahran following the January 2011 uprising and gained the support of a number of prominent Sufi leaders, including Mohamed Ala’a al-Din Abu al-Azayem of the Azamiyya Sufi […]