Egypt’s parliamentary elections are set to be held in September, giving the secularists only about four months to mobilize against the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists that have been organizing for decades in Islamic institutions. The Brotherhood’s ground game is unmatchable, but a new poll by the International Peace Institute provides some hope. It shows that is it the secular Wafd Party, not the Muslim Brotherhood, that has the most support in Egypt.
According to the survey, the Wafd Party has a 46 percent approval rating, followed by the Brotherhood at 38 percent. Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party still has significant support with a 26 percent favorability rating. When respondents were asked whom they intend to vote for, 23 percent said they are backing the Wafd Party. The Brotherhood scored 12 percent, only two points ahead of the NDP.
The secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, has a very strong lead in the presidential race with 37 percent saying they will vote for him and an overall favorability rating of 80 percent. Mohamed Tantawi, the chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, has 16 percent saying they will back him. Ayman Nour, another secularist, has an approval rating in the 30s. Mohamed ElBaradei, however, has an approval rating of only 10 percent and only two percent of Egyptians intend to vote for him. These findings explain why the Brotherhood is only aiming to win 30 percent of the seats in the next parliament and says it will not run a presidential candidate, though el-Baradei has been closely tied to them.
Another important finding of the poll is that 60 percent of Egyptians want to preserve the peace treaty with Israel, though there is an important qualifier: This must come with the establishment of a separate, independent Palestinian state. It is encouraging that the Egyptian people look kindly upon a two-state solution, but it is unlikely this new state will be created any time soon. There is a significant danger that support for the treaty will steadily erode.
The poll also found significant hostility towards Iran. A previous poll found that only about half of Egyptians look upon Hamas favorably and 57 percent disapprove of Hezbollah. The IPI survey found that 36 percent are more likely to vote for a party that is opposed to Iran and its nuclear program. Twenty-two percent said they would be less likely. Amr Moussa, though he is more hostile to Israel and the U.S. than Mubarak, is also a strong opponent of Iran.