The NFP: In absence of competition, al-Sisi’s new party leads in parliamentary elections

The second phase of the Egyptian parliamentary elections for the Egyptian House of Representatives began with the expectation that the Nation’s Future Party (NFP) is to lead in the absence of competition, as what happened in the first phase. This rise of the political party that emerged from the womb of the coup against the first elected civilian president, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013, raises the question in the Egyptian street: “Is it the party of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi? Or is it the back of the deep state?” The vote for the House of Representatives (the first chamber of parliament) takes place shortly after the elections to the Senate (the second chamber), and it showed wide control by the NFP, which is running in the elections without competition from any opposition party.

The NFP is an Egyptian political party that was established before the 2015 Egyptian parliamentary elections. From its inception, it seems that the NFP, according to observers, was prepared to be one of the prominent entities in Egyptian political life, whether by the desire of its members or the state’s direction. Soon, a young man named Mohamed Badran rose to political life as a leader of the NFP, after launching a campaign entitled “The NFP to support al-Sisi.” Badran was then the president of the Egyptian Students Union. Then the campaign turned into a party founded and headed by Badran in August 2014, and al-Sisi singled him out to board the Mahrousa yacht, during the opening of a new branch of the Suez Canal in 2015. Press reports then said that the campaign and the party appeared with the support of the state.

In its first parliamentary experience, the party managed to obtain 53 seats in the House of Representatives before it could lead the formation of the Support Egypt parliamentary coalition to support the government in parliament. Dramatically, Badran travelled to the United States, with the declared aim of completing his studies, in early January 2016, and obtained a quick course in leadership and management, before he resigned from the party following internal crises, after his long absence abroad, in September 2016.

Ashraf Rashad, an unknown party face, subsequently became the new president of the party by acclamation, in September 2017, with repeated denials of being the president’s party. Although the party is currently headed by Abdel Wahab Abdel Razek, who was recently elected president of the Senate, by clicking on the party identification icon on his website, a large image of al-Sisi appears in the foreground.

The Egyptian constitution prohibits the head of state from chairing a political party, but the NFP appears on the ground as al-Sisi’s party, as opponents say. They say that the party is repeating the experience of the Democratic National Party, headed by the late President Hosni Mubarak (1981-2011), and its practices were the reason for its overthrow in the January 25, 2011 revolution. They also see that the party receives “great support from the state to manage and control parliamentary life, in light of the acquisition of the two parliamentary chambers.”

Perhaps the speech of the leader of the NFP, Ibrahim Ajlan, in the famous video clip, is evidence of what the opposition described when he admitted that the Nation’s Future Party is the same as the National Party, but in another way. Ajlan said in the video clip, which was widely circulated: “The future of a homeland is the time of the National Party… Today, all the devices serve the the Nation’s Future Party.” The party’s role is growing at a time when the state’s grip on politics and the media is at its steepest in decades. Many in rural and poor areas refer to the Nation’s Future Party as al-Sisi’s party. A video produced by the party, broadcast on state television, shows consumer goods, including refrigerators and cooking ovens, which are distributed to citizens in paper boxes decorated with al-Sisi, along with the party’s logo.

The NFP controlled about 70 per cent of the Senate seats, and its candidates achieved sweeping victories in the first stage of the House of Representatives elections, amid expectations that this victory will continue during the second phase. According to the path that al-Sisi has adopted so far, he is the first president of Egypt behind whom no organisation or declared political party stands, and this matter cannot be changed, except with a constitutional amendment. Article (140) of the Egyptian constitution states that “The President of the Republic may not occupy any position party for the duration of the presidency. ” This article was not affected by constitutional amendments passed in 2019, allowing al-Sisi to remain in power even after 2030.

Despite this, the NFP has been leading the Support Egypt coalition since 2015, which is the first supportive coalition for al-Sisi, which in 2018 faced legal and political opposition from supporters of the regime by transforming it into a party. Changing a member’s membership from a coalition to a party will clash with Articles 110 of the constitution and 6 of the House of Representatives law, which provide for the removal of a member’s membership in the event that one of the membership conditions changes, such as the capacity or the party affiliation on which he was elected. Perhaps what happened in the Senate elections and the House of Representatives this time is a treatment for this matter, when most of the regime’s supporters ran on behalf of the party and not as part of a coalition.