An unlikely alliance of liberals, leftists, secularists and old-regime loyalists had pledged to run as a single party in the parliamentary elections, expected in April, to maximize their chances at the polls.
But petty infighting, ideological differences and disorganization in the ranks have rendered the chances of unity at the ballot box increasingly unlikely. The result, analysts say, is likely to be further gains for the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist Nour party, which together won 72 percent of parliamentary seats last year, in the first national election since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.
“It is really a miracle that we are still sitting together,” said Mohamed Abulghar, the leader of the Social Democratic Party and a prominent voice in the loose and increasingly divided National Salvation Front, which formed last month to oppose the constitution pushed forward by Mohamed Morsi, the Brotherhood-backed president who was elected in June 2012. The NSF had vowed to present a united front going forward, but that unity has largely crumbled.
Now the factions are splintering over economic policy, as the country’s economic crisis deepens. And they’re bitterly divided over whether members of Mubarak’s old government and now-defunct ruling party should be accepted on the ballot.
The Egyptian leftists, who oppose the government’s efforts to secure a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, say they don’t want the liberal capitalists on their electoral ticket. The youth activists don’t want to run alongside old-regime “remnants,” such as former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who is part of the NSF but who also served as a popular foreign minister under Mubarak. The liberal al-Wafd party wants to back out of calls for a single ticket and run on its own list entirely. And still others would rather neglect the vote and focus their efforts on a mass protest planned this week for the two-year anniversary of Egypt’s revolution.
“I personally prefer to focus on January 25th because it was proved in this country in the last two years that nothing happens without the mobilization of huge masses of Egyptian citizens,” said Hussein Abdelghani, a spokesman for the National Salvation Front, arguing that previous protests had spurred cabinet reshuffles even though elections had brought the Islamists to power.