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Egypt's "Moderates" Unite? A Step Forward But Not as Good as it Seems

By Barry Rubin

Fourteen “liberal” groups have formed The Egyptian Bloc to contest the parliament elections that might be held in November. If they actually do run a single slate of candidates there is a real chance to block the power of the Muslim Brotherhood. But that’s a big “if.”

And there are some other problems you won’t be seeing in Western media coverage of this development:

--Fourteen parties sounds an impressive grouping but most of them are not very important and have little or no base of support. I estimate that the committed parties collectively can claim about 25 percent support, mostly for the Free Egyptians party (al-Masriyin al-Ahrar).

--Some of the parties are left-wing and anti-democratic parties. One of them is the Communist Party, which gives you a sense of how “moderate” and “liberal” are being defined.”

--The most important of all centrist parties, the Wafd, which has about 20 percent support, seems undecided as to whether to join this bloc or remain in an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood. That last point also tells you something about the nature of contemporary Egyptian politics.

--There are some hints that the bloc might be a bit more attuned to current Western debates than to Egyptian conditions. It will promise the voters equality, social justice, more housing, health insurance, and a better educational system. The problem, of course, is how it could possibly produce these things.

For coverage of this development see here and here.