At the time of this report on October 27, 2010, the Brotherhood spoke out against boycotting the upcoming election, but projected a rather optimistic attitude towards resolving the conflict that confronted them. Still, in light of this optimistic attitude, they did not deny that it would oppose the anti-government in other ways (Arrott). Senior Brotherhood leader, Essam el-Eryan commented, "What is urgent and a priority is to change the rules of the political game. We are ready to accommodate with any real political system…but we are living in a police state."
On December 1, 2010, it was reported that the Brotherhood planned to boycott the 2010 elections run offs (CNN Newswire). The boycott is being held as a protest to the irregularities in the first round of voting held on November 24, 2010. (CNN Newswire).
The Brotherhood did not win a single seat in Parliament in the 2010 election after having won 88 seats in 2005, while Egypt's ruling party, the Democratic National Party, won 217 seats in the first round of voting (CNN Newswire).
The results of the 2010 elections represent a stark difference between the support that the Brotherhood had gained in the past two elections. For example, in 2000, the Brotherhood won 19 seats in the People's Assembly by running as independents and establishing coalitions with secular groups (Pan). Five years later, the Brotherhood won 88 seats in the Parliament and their total presence was estimated to be around 25% of the Parliament's 454 members (CNN Newsire;
Otterman). In 2010, the Brotherhood did not win any seats in the Parliament.
The drastic diminishing presence of the Brotherhood in Egyptian politics could be related to a number of factors. Critics would cite to the passage of the Constitutional Amendment to Article 76 that was proposed in 2005 by President Mubarak and approved by a majority vote of the people. Recall, that the Amendment caused a number of changes in the electoral process, for example the institution of the FEC as the organization that supervises and approves the elections process and the votes cast. The changes that went into effect at that time created additional requirements for new candidates or candidates of independent political parties that desire to run for office, as discussed earlier. These restrictions made it especially difficult for a new candidate with little to no political following as one of these restrictions require that the candidate obtain a 5% support from both the upper and lower houses and hold license for five years (Sharp 2).
One can only assume what the reason is behind the difference in the election results for members of the Brotherhood from 2000 to 2005 and in 2010. The number of arrests and detentions prior to the election, not surprisingly, has had a negative effect on the election outcome being more favorable for the Brotherhood. Obviously and as evidenced by their boycott, the members of the Brotherhood do not believe that their diminished presence in the Parliament was by electoral vote alone.
4. Who Supports the Muslim Brotherhood?
The Muslim Brotherhood today is supported by the people of Egypt. In 2005, the Brotherhood in 2005 won a total of 88 seats in Parliament which equates to approximately 25% of the total seats (CNN Newsire; Otterman). While at first glance, this may not seem like a significant number, in light of the opposition that the Brotherhood faces from the government this number shows that they have a significant following from the people of Egypt. In addition, the Brotherhood's public support increased in the two prior elections -- from winning 19 seats in 2001, (Pan) to winning 88 seats in 2005. One could have easily deduced that had the controversy not erupted regarding the 2010 elections that the Brotherhood would have increased their presence and representation in the Parliament. However, in light the state of the electoral process in Egypt, the natural result did not occur and the Brotherhood did not win one seat this term.
In Light of All the Controversy, What Were the Election Results?
As this report was being researched, it was reported that the President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, and his Democratic National Party clinched control of 4/5 of Parliament or at least 90% of the available seats (Hamzawy). The ultimate result was that the share of opposition and independent seats fell from 24% in 2005 to less than 10% as a result of the current election (Hamzawy). Based on these current results and the predictions for the run off elections, the National Democratic Party, will control the People's Assembly for the next five years (Hamzawy).
The one sided election results occur in light of the fact that the Brotherhood held a boycott to contest the election results after they did not win a single Parliamentary seat and after over 250 members were arrested and jailed in October 2010 (Arrott). The Wafd Party, the opposition, joined the Brotherhood in protest of the election (Hamzawy). The election results are being questioned in all aspects by critics worldwide who protest their legitimacy and the actions of the government that preceded the election. Actions that raise concern were the harassment of domestic observers, local and international media such that the election is being criticized around the world (Hamzawy).
Critics of the election results allege fraud and denouncing the election results stating that the process lacked fairness, competitiveness, and democracy (Hamzawy). Critics of the election process state election of a one sided Parliament demonstrate that the motives of Mubarak and the Democratic National Party were to exclude all opposition and gain full control over the government. The results of the election and controversy surrounding the electoral process will undoubted remain under heated opposition for weeks and months to come.
5. How Did President Hosini Mubarak Remain in Power for So Long?
Hosni "Muhammad" Mubarak became the President of Egypt on October 6, 1981 (American-Israeli). At that time he instituted an economic recovery program and entered into a peace treaty with Israel (American-Israeli). He succeeded in office following the assassination of Anwar el-Sadat and his tenure is the longest of any Egyptian president since the ouster of the King in the 1950s (Associated Press). Over the years, Mubarak has been vigorously opposed by the Brotherhood, whom he eventually caused to be disbanded. With the disbanding of his strongest opposition and growing and sustaining solidarity of the Democratic National Party, Mubarak has succeeded in office for over 28 years. For most of those years he ran uncontested, until in 2005, Mubarak proposed an Amendment to Article 76 of the Constitution that would provide for multi-candidate elections. Still, in the election that followed the Amendment -- the current election -- Mubarak has won the election with overwhelming support.
So what is it about Mubarak that has resulted in him remaining in office for over 28 years? Some would say that his extensive military background has helped him. Surprisingly, opponents of his policy might actually agree and argue that his longevity has everything to do with his ability to exercise a degree of militancy in getting what he wants. The bigger picture here, however, is that without an effective system of democracy, an electoral system will fail. Mubarak's 28+ consecutive years in office may have some relationship to his being strategic and dominating, but it has more to do with a system that is not working as it should to keep the balance of power in check. A democratic system is one that puts the power literally in the hands of the people. While no democratic system is perfect, those that operate under a viable democratic system are able to avoid having one individual rule over their government for longer than they would like to see him rule.
6. What Is Position of United States Toward the Egyptian Electoral Process?
On September 7, 2005, President Bush called for an international monitoring of the Presidential election in Egypt stating "as with rules that follow for a real campaign" (Sharp). This plan was subsequently rejected by Egypt calling it an infringement on its national sovereignty (Sharp 4). There is no doubt that the electoral process poses an opportunity U.S./Egyptian relations and to promote democracy in the region (Sharp 6). The overwhelming victory by Mubarak puts the U.S. In the difficult position of praising Mubarak for his reform efforts, while calling for more transparency in future elections (Sharp 6). What would be the incentive for the U.S. To become involved in the electoral process of a government whose leader has clearly proposed a plan to institute reform regarding the elections process? Would the U.S. be overstepping its boundaries and becoming the Judge as to whether the Egyptian electoral system is operating effectively? There are arguments in the affirmative and in the negative for both sides of this issue.
7. If the U.S. Promotes Election Reform in Egypt Would it Be Over Stepping Its Boundaries or Advocating for Human Rights?…