Egypt: Islamist party's hopes look dim in upcoming elections

Egypt: Islamist party's hopes look dim in upcoming elections
The salafi al-Nour party, Egypt's sole remaining Islamist party, are gearing up for upcoming elections despite media campaigns against it and slim chances of it making a serious impact.
3 min read
14 October, 2015
The Nour Party won 24 percent of the seats in the last elections [Getty]
The chances look slim for Egypt's last Islamist party as it prepares to take part in long-delayed parliamentary elections set to take place in two rounds starting on October 18.

The ultra-conservative al-Nour Party has lost the support of the vast majority of Islamists for its alliance with the military government following the coup against Islamist president Mohammad Morsi in 2013.

Although the salafi political party has recently kept a low profile and tamed its ambitions of implementing Islamic law, it is now trying make a comeback this year after it came second only to the Muslim Brotherhood in the last parliamentary elections in 2011.

However, prospects for the party look bleak this time round.

       The Nour Party came in second in the 2011 elections [Getty]
"The Nour party is suffering because of its ever-changing political positions. I don't think they will even get five percent of the vote," former lawmaker Bahgat al-Sun told al-Araby's Arabic service.

"Ever since this party was formed it has been focused on promoting backwards ideas," a researcher at the al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies told al-Araby.

"It has been warmly accepted by the Egyptian authorities, who see it as a card they can play to scare people away from political Islam and exert pressure on Christians,"

"The biggest political blunder the Muslim Brotherhood made was making a semi-alliance with the Nour Party and turning a blind eye to its fascist ideas," he added.

The Brotherhood and the Nour Party together dominated Egypt's legislative chamber after the 2011 revolution, which ended former president Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

Yet after the military ousted Islamist former president Mohammad Morsi and it became clear the Brotherhood would not hold onto power, the party secured its survival by siding with the military.

The Brotherhood was banned and declared a "terrorist group" as state media demonised political Islam.

Security forces killed hundreds of supporters of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, jailed thousands and many of the group's leaders were sentenced to death.

Media counter-campaigns 

A popular campaign against religious parties has recently gathered over a million signatures to put pressure on the government to dissolve all religious parties in the country.

      The Nour Party has sided with Sisi and the military [Getty]
"Egyptians have really taken to the campaign, which shows how much Egyptians are against mixing religion with politics," campaign organiser Georgette al-Sharqawi told al-Araby.

The Nour Party have complained that it has frequently come under fire from the media.

In September, a pro-government Egyptian talk show host launched an online campaign called "Keep your enemy out of parliament" against Islamists who intend to run in the elections. 

Low turnout is likely to be a key feature of the long-delayed parliamentary elections, with wealthy and politically well-connected supporters of general-turned-president Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi expected to fill the chamber.

With the clear lack of serious opposition to Sisi's military government many young Egyptians have lost their passion to bring about change that pushed them to topple the old regime.

"The reluctance of young people to vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections is a disaster because they make up 60 percent of the population", the head of the Yafa Research Centre Rifaat Sayyid Ahmad told al-Araby.

"Young people not taking part is evidence that there something is wrong and that they have deep-seated issues with politics," Ahmad added.