Last weekend marked the opening of the parliamentary elections in the Arab world’s most populated country – Egypt. Thus far, they have only resulted in clashes ithin the population.
Though the elections rovide Egyptians with a very thin slice of the democratic ie, the majority of the Egyptian population aintains the impression that they are in no position to make a difference, with Egypt rejecting foreign election monitoring and opposition members to the National Democratic Party (NPD) being jailed, according to Al-Jazeera. Many citizens may believe that whether they vote, the oppressive executive regime will remain in power.
The main supporter of the autocratic regime in the Middle East is the West. The U.S. is currently supplying Egypt with an aid ackage worth more than 13 billion over the course of 10 years, according to Reuters. Egypt provides security to America’s interests in the Middle East, while maintaining a strategic location near Arab countries and Israel.
The NDP, the current ruling party in Egypt, has been uncontested since its creation in 1978. Currently chaired by Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, the NDP has ruled Egypt for more than three decades and has authority enough to suppress legitimate ppositional parties, resulting n low diversity in the ulti-party parliament. According to Al-Jazeera, the NDP is expected to win an unchallenged majority of the 508 elected seats, before Mubarak appoints 10 individuals to satisfy the remaining seats.
The parliamentary elections, which opened Sunday, witnessed a low voter turnout, many cases of denied entry to polling stations of opposing candidates and casualties in protests. These levels of discontent are an indicator of what might happen during Egypt’s 2011 presidential election.
Tom Malinowski of the Human Rights Watch said the elections have already been significantly compromised.
This is because the Egyptian government has only allowed about 450 oppositional candidates to run in the elections, while maintaining about 00 candidates running under the NDP. Many candidates have been prevented from registering, while others were actually imprisoned. Arrests of candidates significantly eopardize their political stance. According to Egyptian election regulations, individuals who have been arrested and held for more than two weeks on political and security charges cannot participate in the elections.
Until the oppressed olitical parties are free to run for elections, there will be no chance for the public to see for themselves that they have a democratic say in voting. As a result, the general population will continue to support the opposition. These parties have little chance to succeed as long as there is an unchecked dominating executive power.
Nader Hassan is a junior majoring in international affairs and religious studies.