The Egyptian Revolution and the Role of the Left (Success and Failure Factors)

Posted: 17 نوفمبر 2013 in كتابات مترجمة, كتابات سياسية, عمال وجماهير
Ayman Abdel Muti
March 2013
Paper presented at the conference: the left and the Arab revolutions (Cairo, 24 – 25 April 2013)
Organized by the Arab Forum alternatives to studies, and Rosa Luxemburg Foundation
Yassar E

The Egyptian Left responded to the 25 January, 2011 revolution at a time when it was still suffering from its historic problems, despite the fact that there were attempts made by some of its streams to rid themselves of these problems during the 10 years prior to the outbreak of the revolution. In spite of the political efforts made by some leftist forces to build links with the popular impulse and the heated issues such as democratic transformation, anti-imperialism and Zionism and popular campaigns to confront the imposition of unfair taxes, the Left parties and organizations were absent from the change yards, and they did not have an influential presence at this very critical revolutionary moment.[1] This is one of the contradictions of the Egyptian revolutionary scene because while the people were demanding leftist agenda demands and calling for a just society, comprehensive and independent change and development, and bias for the toilers and the poor in public yards and in the heart of Tahrir Square, the Left was absent.   That is to say that the Left was astounded by the wide protests that swept every place of Egypt, and when this happened, it was not present as an organized force seeking to mobilize people and lead their revolution which was carrying demands of a  Leftist nature.

The Egyptian Left: A historical background

Throughout its history, and since its emergence in the wake of the Egyptian revolution of 1919, the Left continued to try to play the role of the vanguard of the masses during the different waves of struggle that have broken out at various times. However, it has also continued to be stuck in the midst of problems that have plagued the political movement in general and the Left in particular, such as factionalism, prejudice, fragmentation and lack of interaction with the broad masses. Unfortunately, the Left has not been awakened by the spontaneous movements of the masses every now and then. In 1977, when the 18 and 19 January uprising erupted, the Egyptian Left faced the hardest lesson ever.  Despite the strong wave – of a Leftist nature – that had swept the whole world since 1968, the Egyptian Left missed the opportunities of associating itself with the movement from below at the time when this movement reached its peak before it was severely repressed after the uprising.

This idea – the relationship between the Left and the masses – has its roots in the history of the Left, in its practices and in the way it used for building itself and its organizations throughout its history.  The historic conditions have allowed some Left wing factions, from the start of the creation of the first communist party in 1921 and until the development of the Left movement in the 1940’s, to associate themselves with the mass movement.  However, the Left has stayed away from the possibility of playing a role in mobilizing the revolutionary momentum in the direction of the victory of the masses away from liberal, national and religious and pan-Arab slogans that have prevailed in the political life at that time despite its struggle forces, which have grown with the Second Communist Movement in the mid-forties. This is because of reasons related to the nature of secret organizations which has led to the lack of their interaction with the on-going struggle.  In addition, these organizations did not re-examine their ideas and their national-oriented programmes, and they were dependent on the Soviet Union and the Eastern European camp.  This has reflected itself in the absence of independent stances taken by the Left organizations such as their support for the UN resolution which divided Palestine into two sovereign states when it was accepted by the Soviet Union and the State of Israel.  Moreover, the Leftist movement has witnessed deep divides, and it has reached the point where the number of Leftist parties became 35 organizations in less than two decades.[2]

Since the emergence of the Third Communist Movement in the wake of the tidal 1968 wave, the organizations of this movement remained small in size and limited in their impact and influence in the political reality in general because of their heavy dependence on political theorization which does not essentially answer the questions posed by the realities on the ground in addition to excessive self-exaggeration.  A small group would call itself a party and thus follow partisan policies and tasks not commensurate with its limited size and impact.

If we examine the National Progressive Unionist Party (Tagammu), which continued to be the only official Leftist party, since its inception in 1976 and until the 25 of January revolution, we find that the way it started and continued to be until the 1980’s is very different from the roles it has played during the last two decades.  During the last two decades, it has stopped its attempts to become a Leftist party which is trying to lead a wide mass of laborers, farmers and the poor. “It is for this reason that socialist streams have stopped working under the banner of the Tagammu because its leadership did not attempt to deep-root the Leftist approach as an ideology and in practice, and it did not support the advancement of its political unity and ideological framework as a formula which combines the Marxists, pan-Arab, and enlightened religious streams within one Leftist nucleus to face the ruling right-wing regime and the reactionary political Islam.”[3]

Even the party which used the Tagammu as its cover, i.e. the Egyptian Communist Party, has changed.  Its present is no longer the natural extension of its past which has been characterized by some struggle flashes. It has quickly become bureaucratized. In addition, it holds a conservative political view of politics and organization stemming from a Stalinist distortion of the revolutionary heritage. The Socialist People’s Party, the faction that has walked out of the Egyptian Communist party, is not very different from any small group with low-impact and influence.

In 1989, the United Workers’ Communist Party was established.  It emerged as a result of the merging of the United Workers’ Communist Party and the Egyptian Communist Party (Jan 8). This unity did not provide the party with any tangible strength.  After the security strike, directly after the unification, it remained a party with no real political presence in the 1990’s except for a few publications.  In the new millennium, it completely disappeared.

These Leftist organizations and factions have faced a huge shock, and some of them have lost all contact with the masses after the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc in the wake of mass movements that have rid themselves from years of oppression and tyranny under communist and Stalinist parties. Thus, the revolution and socialism either have become areas for questioning and revision or mere slogans based on the same old visions for fear of abandoning the revolution project but without making any effort to analyze the crisis and the political changes and their causes.

Small and ineffective groups have emerged and disappeared because of their severe weakness or because they have merged in other forms because they were not able to establish their presence in the political life. The only group that has continued to be present since its inception in the early nineties and which was able to create a space for itself in the Left vacuum was the Revolutionary Socialist Stream which has been able to provide some revolutionary answers to today’s questions, especially in the state of disarray after the fall of the communist system. But this newly emerging critical stream was not able to rid itself of the problems suffered by the Left and which have ultimately led to the creation of three small and ineffective groups despite the critique it has provided at the start of its formation on the Orthodox, Stalinist and Trotskyist vision of politics and organization.

The Left on the Eve of the Revolution


Those who say that the Left was completely absent and alienated from the Egyptian political activism, especially at the beginning of the new millennium, are simplifying this issue.  The number of the stream’s representatives in the representative councils may be limited; however, during the last ten years, the left has been, to a certain degree, the fuel, the engine, or the catalyst of many protest movements in Egypt.  This means that it has returned to the yard after a period of inactivity and absence.”[4]

During the ten years prior to the Revolution, some leftist groups and individuals tried to take advantage of the struggle momentum that emerged after the fraud in the 2000 parliamentary elections and the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising, which had produced a strong solidarity movement in all the Arab countries and among sectors that had not paid any real attention to national issues and liberation from imperialism and Zionism for a long time. This was accompanied by a large opposition movement against the imperialist war against Afghanistan under the pretext of the fight against terrorism at a time when cities of the world were rising up against capitalist globalization and its solutions to the crisis that made the poor pay the price. After that, the Iraq war played a role in fueling popular anger in the whole world and in Egypt in particular. It was this war that revealed to everyone the close relation between the Mubarak regime and imperialism. In 2004, the Kifaya Movement emerged carrying the slogan of “no to extension (for President Mubarak), no to hereditary (his son).”

In the midst of this momentum, the resistant Egyptian Left played a role in the formation of groups such as the Egyptian Movement for Change (Kifaya) and the Anti-Globalization Egyptian Group (Ajeej), in addition to the creation of committees for the support of the Palestinian intifada, and against the war on Iraq. It also played a role in the creation of the different labor solidarity committees of a frontal nature.  In this way, political activism in Egypt began to create a link between political and national issues but without efficiently creating a link between the two and social issues. The absence of this link continued to dominate the activism to a large extent of the Left until the revolution, in spite of the nascent rise of a strong labor movement by the end of 2006, which laid the groundwork for the creation of Egypt’s first independent trade union since the 1940’s as reflected by the case of the Real Estate Tax Authority’s employees.


The New Left and the Revolution

The new frontal formations and the campaigns formed or launched by Leftist groups and individuals have played an important role in restoring the Leftist voice which had almost disappeared in the nineties.  Many of the old Leftists started to become politically active again and participated in the formation of committees, the launching of campaigns, and demonstrations, even leading some of them.

The most important development is the emergence of new generations in the political arena with the emergence of the democratic change movement.  These generations have played the role of spearhead and the primary masses for mobilization in all forms of protests called by the change movements, including the “independence of judges” movement and later in the movements against police and its repression of activists and citizens.

These generations, as of the day of their emergence, have enjoyed a high sense of struggle and boldness in confronting the brutality of the state apparatuses and unmatched ability of political activism.  Although some of them are affiliated with some political entities because these entities were able to mobilize them in the universities and the different neighborhoods, many of them joined the newly emerging youth movements such as “April 6 Youth Movement”, “We are all Khaled Said,” “Movement of Youth for Justice and Freedom,” and the “National Association for Change.”  This has reflected itself in the courage of these movements but also in their lack of experience and the absence of political cohesion among the new generation which has started to make its footsteps amid this political momentum.

In spite of the fact that these new generations belonged to movements and new parties or groups and to political parties that already existed, or which were able to remain independent without joining any party or political force, we can confirm that the social sense in the visions and the struggle of many of them was clearly visible. It is what we can describe as Leftist oriented, even if they themselves do not describe themselves as Leftists.

After that, the new movements played a major role in the formation of “Revolution Youth Coalition”  (April 6 Youth Movement, Movement of Youth for Justice and Freedom, Young Muslim Brotherhood, Youth Democratic Front Party, Youth National Association for Change, the Campaign for the Support of El-Baradei) which was significantly leading the revolution in al-Tahrir Square during the 18 days through the committees which were formed in the field and the revolution radio, and which was identifying the demands and speaking to the media on behalf of the revolution.


A Broad Left Party

The Revolution came as a big surprise to everybody.  Although some Left parties had preached that the revolution might erupt, the size of participation and political action of the masses  surprised everybody.  In an attempt to quickly respond to the revolution, there was an initiative to create a broad Leftist party.  This initiative was not a new one.  It had its many harbingers in the attempts to create the “March 20 for Change,” the “Left Alliance” and later on the “Union of the Left” in addition to other limited attempts to unify leftist organizations  in one organization, and later on the formation of youth groups, committees, alliances and coalitions during the political struggle period.

On completely different grounds than those that prevailed before the revolution, and under conditions created by the very huge political momentum and the Leftist tendencies in the practices of many movements, many streams and forces positively responded to the call for the creation of a new party which later became known as the “Socialist People’s Alliance.”  However, at an early stage of its creation, sorting inside the party started on political and programme levels.  A group that had walked out after the founding conference later on formed, with others, the Social Democratic Egyptian Party, describing the Socialist People’s Alliance as being more leftist than it should be at this stage. The Revolutionary Socialist Organization refused to continue its participation in the creation of the alliance because it refused to dissolve itself and merge into the new party and because many of its leaders were workers and peasants. Another group walked out and formed the Egyptian Socialist Party. Some of its cadres and leaders had, at a later stage, joined the Alliance Party.  In the end, the new party was formed of a group of those who left the Tagammu, when they failed to change the leadership of the party and to mobilize a majority against it, the Socialist Renewal Stream, the Revolutionary Stream,[5] some members of the Democratic Left, and a large group of independents or who were in old parties such as the United Workers’ Party, the Socialist Peoples’ Party, or the Socialist Egyptians.

In any case, apart from the emergence of various political formations even after the revolution, the left, with its broad sense, has had its prominent presence in the events, demonstrations, protests by millions, and the frontal formations that have emerged after the revolution.  It also has had its stances regarding the overall political, economic and social issues, and it was biased to the poor and the toilers as reflected in statements issued by its forces and parties and by the writings and stances of its political symbols.

We will try here to examine three experiences in the creation of Leftist parties.  In my view, one of these experiences is a right-wing one – if I may use such an expression; the second is a left-wing experience, and the third is a centrist one; these are:  the Social Democratic Egyptian Party, the Workers’ and Peasants Party and the Socialist Popular Alliance as examples but there are others, too, as evidenced by the presence of other parties such as the Social and the Communist Egyptian Parties.

The Egyptian Social Democratic Party

The Egyptian Social Democratic Party considers itself centrist-left. The party has two objectives: political freedom and social justice, without any mention of socialism as a goal sought by the party in the long run. The party believes in liberties that ensure equal rights for every citizen. At the same time, it advocates a society dominated by economic values where individuals share the ownership and management of the production process with full refusal of the state’s monopoly of the means of production. “We have to respect the legitimate interests of the majority of Egyptians through adopting economic policies that serve the majority of the people by spending more on health, education and housing and which help the poor to get out of poverty and raise the standard of living of Egyptians. We want everybody to have his rights.  Whoever works hard and with dedication deserves an excellent income. The income of people in Egypt should be linked with their effort and dedication to work.”[6]  Thus, the “social democrats refuse the state’s monopoly of the means of production and the control of freedoms by an authority from above – that is an authority which controls people because it considers itself as more knowledgeable and more capable of knowing the details of things.”  They also refuse to leave the market open for the monopolies of big capitalists and influential people and the deepening social inequalities.”[7]

At the level of political action, the party did not have any problem in allying itself with the capitalist parties such as its alliance with the Party of Egyptian Liberals and it founder, Naguib Sawiris, a businessman, in parliamentary elections and its quest afterwards to merge with his party in one party. It also did not have any problem with having personalities remnant of the former regime  listed in the list of the Egyptian bloc which it had led in the elections.

We can say that the party, instead of mobilizing young Leftists and other old Leftist parties and factions, has opted to mobilize liberal youth with social orientation and some of the old Left personalities who did not want to stay within the broad Left party for a variety of reasons. In this regard, some analysts say that the walk out of the founders of the Egyptian Democratic Party from the project of establishing a broad Left party was inevitable, not only because they do not agree with the party’s programme and its vision of building itself, but more importantly because it did not provide a leftist vision, not even in the reformist sense of the word – better call it a liberal vision with a Leftist touch.


The Workers and Peasants Party


The Workers and Peasants Party was established by a number of the traditional labor leaders and members of the Revolutionary Socialist Organization who have from the start of the preparatory meetings refused to continue in the initiative to found a broad Left party.  The policy of the organization, in which its leaders have played a major role in the creation of the party, is to create a new party distant from the Left with its historic meaning – a party to be formed by labor and peasant Leftist leaders known for their struggle history with the aim of the victory of the revolution and preparing it to become of a radical labor and social nature.

The ideas put forward by the party seem different in its leftist and more radical nature.  However, the party does not provide in its literature any means by which it is going to achieve its aims other than the repetition of slogans and general principles which the Revolutionary Socialists have been repeating throughout their history.  More importantly, the party does not provide an analysis which explains the relation between these slogans and aims now with the development of the Egyptian revolution.  It does not provide an answer to the question whether the social revolution forces have reached a level of organization and politicization which would allow them to achieve these revolutionary tasks or whether the conditions have not yet become ripe.  Thus, one of the main problems of the party is that it has not crystallized these slogans into instant tasks that it is going to follow in order to reach its aims.  The party, which has not until now succeeded in completing the procedures needed to become publicly acknowledged, does not see the importance of its competing in the elections but instead have called for their boycott.[8] Also, it does not participate in hardly any frontal activities, and its activism is limited to participation in protest marches and events organized in the yards and neighborhoods.

In the history of the Left movement, there are those who are more concerned about their revolutionary purity than about the strength, possibility and opportunity of the success of the ideas they carry.  Thus, they defend this purity and make it their slogan and their major discourse.  They repeat the general principles, i.e. the call for the victory of the labor revolution and  declare that the path to achieve this is by organizing this class itself in its revolutionary party, regardless of whether or not the possibilities are now present.

The Socialist Popular Alliance Party

The initiative of the Alliance Party – which targeted many Leftist circles – not only did not succeed until now in gathering all the Leftist factions, but also  has failed to mobilize the youth groups that were formed directly before the revolution such as the April 6 Youth Movement and the Youth Movement for Justice and Freedom. It was also not successful in mobilizing groups which have played active roles in the revolution during the last two years such as the popular revolutionary committees and the Egyptian ultras groups. It was also reluctant to invite the Tagammu and the Egyptian Communist party to join in.  Thus, the Left remained divided among a number of entities: the historic, the youth and the parties that have appeared after the revolution.  However, the Alliance Party which was able to bring together the biggest part of the ideological Left and those who are convinced of the necessity of building a big Leftist party capable of competing with liberal parties and religious groups in the political arena, has not yet sought to bring in what can be described as the revolution’s Left, i.e. the  Left which believes in the importance of achieving the aims of the revolution and further entrenching its demands regardless of the names these groups give to themselves and their relation with the Left and its ideology in the  historical sense.

Since the beginning, the party had specified its political orientation. It has reflected it in the name it has chosen for itself because “the real guarantee for achieving the demands of the people, especially those of the working classes, is not the mere presence of persons or power institutions that are characterized by integrity and honesty, but rather the continuity of the revolutionary popular movement which will be able to pressure every person who reaches power.”  It is for this reason that it is important that all sectors of the Egyptian society, in schools and in work places, should organize in democratic formations that adopt the demand of the social and political revolution.”[9]

In its founding declaration, the party has stressed its four basic principles, first, the insistence on achieving all the demands related to democracy and political reform without diminution; second, linking political change with social change, and redirecting the economy and development plans for the benefit of the poor masses; third, addressing all forms of submission to Zionism and dependency of colonial governments; and fourth, the struggle for building a civil, not religious or military, state.[10]

Thus, the party stands against “capitalist exploitation and domination of capitalism and monopolies.  It is totally biased to the interests of the poor and the producer classes.  It diligently seeks to invite workers, peasants, employees, and all the poor masses to engage in its ranks. It also wants to engage young people who are against corruption, tyranny and exploitation, and all intellectuals and artists who are biased to democracy, justice and the interests of the masses. Thus, it is an open democratic party that allows the presence of multiple platforms and streams from within it.  Its political stances are based on consensus reached between its different streams and its organizational structures are based on open coordination.  Moreover, it does not adopt the same old style of parties which is based on top down decision making processes. [11]

The Left and Frontal Work: the Parliamentary Elections as a Model


The broad Left Party was not built on any partisan grounds towards other forces, specially the Leftist. From the beginning of the revolution, there was a tendency towards signing joint statements, entering into coordination bodies during big events – in particular demonstrations gathering millions of Egyptians -, entering into alliances and forming political fronts with other forces, especially the leftist forces. In the parliamentary elections 2011 – as a model for frontal work – the Alliance Party participated in the beginning together with the Egyptian bloc and the Liberal Egyptian Party and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Tagammu and others. It then walked out and built the “Revolution Continues Coalition” which gathered it with the Revolution Youth Coalition and the Egyptian Socialist Party, the Egyptian Coalition, Freedom Egypt, Equality and Development, and the Egyptian Stream.[12]

The new parties that have formed the Egyptian bloc faced “major problems” because they were not present in the street before, and they do not have sufficient popular support to rely on or a popular base linked to them.  Moreover, many of these parties were working on building their structures and most of them, especially with the start of the elections, did not have any organizational experience on the ground, or full-time volunteers to assist in the organization and management of the election campaign. This has created a big crisis for these parties.”[13]

 Not only this was the main problem, but the process of the creation of political parties itself was so difficult that it had contributed to the inability of some parties to finalize the registration procedures before the elections.  The conditions for the registrations required that for a party to be able to register, it should have five thousand members coming from fifteen provinces.  Moreover, some parties did not have the financial means and could not provide funding for their election campaigns in all provinces.  In addition to this, the newly created parties have very weak election experience and most of them did not have cadres who have lived such an experience before, with only a few who did have some cadres and candidates with election experience before the revolution.[14] Furthermore, the circumstances under which the elections were held were very difficult and made the whole process complicated, putting newly emerging parties to a real test in which they had to show their seriousness and their ability to create a foothold on the emerging political map.  These circumstances were characterized by the dominance of the military council on power in the country, the election law itself and the composition and decisions of the Supreme Electoral Commission.

Soon, however, disputes started to surface within the bloc and many parties walked out and announced new alliances after disagreement over the definition of remnants (the symbols of the former regime and those who participated in the government under the presidency of Mubarak) and because many of them became candidates on the bloc’s lists in addition to the political disagreement on the type of civil-Islamic polarization fueled by the presence of the bloc and the Democratic Alliance under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. The most important alliance which was initiated by those who walked out of the bloc was the “Continuous Revolution Coalition,” which was mainly initiated by the Socialist People’s Alliance and Egypt Freedom.

There were some distinctive features of the Continuous Revolution Coalition such as its decisive stance with regard to dealing with the remnants of the former regime, and its insistence on issues of social justice, equality, and its commitment to the goals of the revolution and its demands.  Moreover, it has distanced itself from narrow partisan interests, and this has strengthened it.  Furthermore, it has nominated women and youth on the top of its lists and enabled those who have popularity to compete in the elections, and thus, it has provided a good space for the parties and forces who were members of this alliance.[15]

From the outset, the goal of the Revolution Continues Coalition was to build a political alliance on the basis of a program between parties with leftist, liberal and moderate Islamist orientation.  Although there was a political agreement on this issue, the coalition has faced many difficulties, most importantly, the weak financial resources, the decentralized administration of the election campaign, as well as the halting of the coalition’s campaign because of the events of Mohamed Mahmoud Street, which led to dozens of martyrs and injured people, immediately before elections, thus affecting the elections propaganda period.[16]

The elections ended and the Revolution Continues Coalition was able to win 8 seats in the parliament (one individual seat and 7 list’s seats).  However, soon the number fell to five when three MPs withdrew from the coalition and considered themselves as independent MPs, not committed to represent the coalition in the parliament.  Moreover, the parliament was dissolved and thus the coalition, as well as other blocs, was not given enough time to show its cohesion and to provide an alternative vision under the dome of the parliament, but in spite of this, members of the Revolution Continues Coalition in the parliament, in such a short period of time, were able to submit some draft laws that are completely different from the ideas held by the parliamentary Islamic majority such as the trade unions freedom draft law and the investment and incentives guarantees.

The Presidential Election and the Fragmentation of the Left

Unlike the polarizations that have emerged in the parliamentary elections, the presidential election put the Left in a dilemma of a different kind. The Left, in a broad sense, which was not able to win more than thirty-three parliament seats[17] out of more than 500 seats, the seats won by the National Progressive Unionist Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Arab Dignity Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, in alliances with other parties, decided to nominate three candidates (we will exclude Hamdeen Sabahi, who prefers to present himself as the heir of Abdel Nasser and the Nasiriyah) without agreeing on a single candidate, which was its opportunity to win in the election race.

The Tagammu nominated one candidate in the name of the party and that was Hisham Bastawisi, who nominated himself early after the revolution for this task before he completely disappeared from the political arena.  Bastawisi returned as a candidate for a party considered by the other left factions as a person who has lost his popularity and put himself in the arms of the ruling authority.  They consider that his stances stem from the power of the Muslim Brotherhood, not as a party that only has political and economic policies hostile to the masses like the former regime, but as Islamists who pose a threat to freedoms and civil society. The Tagammu continued in the coalition of the Egyptian bloc in the parliamentary elections together with the symbols of capitalism and the remnants of the former regime.  The nomination of Bastawisi was the expression of the party’s bankruptcy which has lost its Leftist orientation and did not benefit from the experiences of Leftist parties in the presidential elections, such as the experience of Chile in 1972 when Salvador Allende, was nominated as a candidate for a broad leftist coalition.  Bastawisi won 29,189 votes (and ranked ninth among 13 candidates by 0.13 % of the total valid votes) in the first round of elections to come out of the presidential race.[18]

In an unprecedented historic step, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, a newly established party, nominated Al-Sakandari Abu Ezz al-Hariri, a freedom fighter, on the backdrop of the momentum created by the “Revolution Continues Coalition” in the parliamentary elections.  Therefore, the new Leftist party has committed the same mistake of the Tagammu by nominating a symbol who only has popularity in his own electoral district. Al- Hariri at the end won 40,090 votes (and ranked in the eighth place among 13 candidates by 0.17 % of the total valid votes) in the first round of the elections, and he, too, dropped out of the presidential race.[19]

On the other hand, Khaled Ali, a lawyer and human rights activist, nominated himself as independent of political parties and forces,[20]  based on his historical reputation among workers and his defense of their causes and freedoms in general.  However, he could not collect more 134,056 votes (he ranked in seventh place among 13 candidates by 0.58 % of the total valid votes) in the first round of the elections, and he also was eliminated from the presidential race.[21]

This presidential race has witnessed the presence of the candidates who are members of the revolution camp such as the former leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh[22] and Hamdeen Sabahi.  Although the five candidates were not able to agree on one candidate, a deputy and a head of the government, the candidacy of Khaled Ali, and his ability to raise the ceiling of his political programme, his direct defense of the causes of laborers and peasants and his demands for the importance of social justice, made other candidates raise theirs and attempt to become closer to voters through demands and slogans with social dimensions.  In the end, none of them was able to compete in the second round although their agreement would have meant that the second round would be between one of them and Mohamed Morsi. Voters after the first round became limited to two choices:  either they vote for the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Dr. Mohamed Morsi, or Ahmed Shafik, which meant the former regime would return to power.

The votes have shown that the political program was not the main difference between the candidates in the presidential race as much as the religious-civil-military polarization which have all played a bigger role in deciding the results of the first round and the runoff. The conditions on the ground did not radicalize to the extent of making people support a certain political programme that raises prospects and a clear class basis.  Moreover, there was the absence of a historic symbol that has enough weight to become the revolution’s candidate.  In addition to all these factors, there was the unjustified competition between candidates who all claimed that they belong to the revolution’s camp.

Revolutionary Opportunities and Future Possibilities

The Left, its role in the revolution and its future cannot be analyzed away from the political conditions of the country and its developments. The path taken by the events is showing every day that there is a need to create organized forces ready to carry the flag of the revolution’s aims and its demands, capable of politically interacting with the social and political forces present on the ground and of the radicalization of the whole process to serve the interests of the toilers of the society and give them more opportunities, and that these forces should be capable of struggling in order for the values of justice and equality between citizens to triumph and prevail.   The general nature of the revolutionary movement is Left oriented because it is adopting radical demands and issues related to freedoms and social justice.  There are many ideologies adopted by organizations and Leftist groups.  However, there is a need for the creation of a real Leftist organization to reflect the radicalization process undergone by the movement.

The revolution has produced many different groups in their size and ability to influence the political reality. It has brought in to the political scene human beings who did not have any real interest in politics before the revolution – with the exception of active groups whose activities were limited to some forms of protests that were easily undermined or suppressed because they were small in size.

The mass momentum, which started to emerge since the Al-Aqsa Intifada of 2000, and further  crystallized after a number of stations in the participation of millions in the January revolution,  played a role in bringing thousands of young people to the work yard and raised their interest in politics and change. In spite of the lack of experience and political cohesion which characterizes this generation, its struggle capacity is very strong and influential.  What is more important is the willingness of many sectors of this generation to organize and get involved in politics and struggle under banners that seek to radicalize the revolution and achieve its aims, particularly the social ones.

In my opinion, the most important factor when one reads the political scene, is the mounting of tension and anger among the public in the recent period.  In a report on the social protests issued in 2012,[23] it was revealed that the number of protests exceeded 3800 throughout the year.  The report revealed that the number of protests during the rule of Morsi was double the number of protests in the first half of the year.  The public anger increased in the year 2013 and the number of protests until March 2013 has reached 1,354.  With this number, Egypt occupied the first rank worldwide in the number of protests taking place in the country.[24] It is clear for everyone who wants to see the truth that all the economic and social demands as well as a number of the political demands have not been met.  It is also clear that the society, specially the poor, is boiling on a hot tin and is on the verge of exploding.  The people did not participate in a revolution and make big sacrifices to replace a dictatorial regime with another. Moreover, the living conditions of the people have deteriorated extremely in the process, and they are witnessing further severe deterioration.

This situation and this sorting suggest that there is a need for the creation of an open Leftist party which should seek to mobilize labor, trade and professional unions’ leaders, the youth groups who are disaffected in order to put them in struggle positions that would give them experience and solidarity and in order to benefit from their struggle capacities to expand its political influence and impact as a party with broad popular nature.

Reasons and Factors for Success

Are we on the verge of another revolution?  This is how the leftist politicians read the political landscape and the reality of the protest movement.  But, what is going to happen next? This question simply means: Is it possible that there was a revolution in this country that has carried slogans of “Life .. Freedom .. Human dignity .. Social justice” and that the country is expected to witness  another round with struggle momentum,  while the Left did not play a leading role in it as a spearhead and without its cadres being among the leaders of this movement?  The answer is: If this does not happen, the next wave will bring counter results and might also bring an end to the revolution and become a frustration factor instead of becoming a revolutionary impulse that rectifies the conditions and paths and achieve gains to the revolutions’ forces.

But the success of a Leftist party in becoming a big, popular and effective party on the path of the events, requires the provision of the necessary conditions of success in its historic mission in order not to allow for the failure of the experience and the isolation of the Left from the popular movement which is expected to rise again.  We can summarize these conditions as the following:

First: Political Action

  • The Left party should play the role of the engine in the social and political struggles in the workers, peasants, fishermen, employees and residents of slums and poor areas’ circles. It should always take the initiative and seek to gain the leaders of the movement in its ranks through struggling side by side and through its participation in the movement as a struggling party and not only as a supporter or a backer.
  • The party should raise, in every battle it fights, the goals and demands of the revolution, such as achieving a democratic society based on popular participation in power,  political pluralism, circulation of power,  social justice, redistribution of wealth in favor of working people of the society or demands that can be linked to events taking place on the ground such as retribution from the killers of the revolutionaries, the rights of the injured people and the release of all detainees in military and civilian events of the revolution.
  • The party should seek to interact with the revolutionary groups, which were formed and nurtured during the revolution’s events and their evolution in order to win their support on struggle grounds. It should standardize work, and engage with these movements in broad frontal work in case they don’t join the party’s ranks in order to allow the joint work experience to prove which forces are closer to each other.


Second: Intellectual Propaganda

  • The party should focus in its propaganda all the time on public issues of social and economic dimensions and on the issue of minorities and the oppressed groups in the society.  It should seek, with straightforwardness and honesty, to carry the demands of the society for change and for improving the living conditions of women, Copts, Bedouins, Nubians and other religious and ethnic minorities.
  • The party should seek to develop its political and organizational tools in order to actually express the possibility of the success of a broad and open party capable of mobilizing all Left oriented groups and individuals in the struggle movement, even if the concept of the Left does not apply to them or even if they do not belong to the Left in the classic sense of the word.

Third: The Organizational Structure

  • The party should seek to build itself in the different areas so that its cadres are present everywhere and are capable of associating themselves with the struggles arising at the workplaces, in the street protests, and in poor areas.
  • Expand the margins of democracy within the party by holding wider popular discussions before making decisions and policies in order to build the party in a manner consistent with its vision in defending a democratic society that has the right to make its decisions.
  • The party should seek to build the talents and abilities of its members through a wide awareness process linked to issues and struggles on the ground. This means that the party should skillfully link theory with practice in the struggle in order to create leaders and cadres convinced of its struggle project.

[1] Imad Masaad Muhammad al-Sabea, Al-Thawra wa al-Yasar al-Ghaeb fi Masr (The Revolution and the absent Left in Egypt), al-Hiwar al-Mutamaden (The Civilized Dialogue), issue number 3419, dated 7/7/2011 on the following link:

[2] Yusuf MUhammad, Tarekh al-Haraka al-Shuyueiya (The History of the Communist Movement), the General Authority for Cultural Palaces, 2013, p 75.

[3] Imad Massad Muhammad al-Sabea, Al-Thawra wa al-Yasar al-Ghaeb fi Masr (The Revolution and the Absent Left in Egypt), op cit.

[4] Mohamed Agati, Al-Yasar wa al-Haraka al-Siyasiya al-Masriya: Ghiyab am Taghyeer fi al-Dawr? (The Left and Egyptian Political Movement: an absence of or a change in the role?) An article published in al-Safir newspaper in 2009 and is on the author’s personal blog: http:/ /

[5] The revolutionary socialist movement in Egypt split into three streams and organizations: the Revolutionary Socialists Organization, the Socialist Renewal Movement and the Revolutionary Stream.

[6] Mann Nahnu – Aan al-Hizb wa Ahdafihi (Who Are We? On the Party and Its Goals), the website of the Socialist Democratic Egyptian Party, available on the following link:

[7] Ibid

[8] Published in June 21, 2012 on the party’s Facebook page on the following link:

[9] The statement issued by the meeting held for the purpose of creating the New Left Party: The objectives of the popular revolution in the current stage, the preparatory committee for the creation of a new party for the left, 26 February 2011.

[10] Draft founding declaration of the People’s Alliance Party, 26 February 2011

[11] Ibid

[12] The Egyptian Stream Party was formed by a group of Egyptian revolution youth and a number of young cadres, dissidents of the Muslim Brotherhood.

[13]Conference Papers “Election Campaigns: Strategies and challenges,” 30 January, 2013, a forum organized by the Arab Forum for Alternatives (AFA).

[14]   Ibid.

[15]  Ibid.

[16]  Ibid.

[17] Wikipedia, the Egyptian parliamentary elections 2011-2012, available on the following link:

[18] Wikipedia, the Egyptian Presidential Election 2012, available on the following link:

[19] Ibid

[20] Khaled Ali after that joined the Socialist Popular Alliance Party.

[21] Wikipedia, the Egyptian presidential election 2012, on the following link:

[22] Aboul Fotouh announced his intention to run for the presidency immediately after the revolution.  This made him leave the Muslim Brotherhood Movement because at that time the movement was against the nomination of any of its members for the presidential post.  He then founded the Strong Egypt Party.

[23] Social protests in 2012, Peoples’ Cry Against Neglect, Exploitation and Repression, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, December 31, 2012, available on the following link:

See also the 2012 Labor Protests Report, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, April 28,  2013, available on the following link:

[24] “International development”: Egypt ranks first worldwide in the rates of protests reaching 44 protests per day, Al-Ahram, April 1, 2013, available on the following link:

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