Monday, 8 November 2010

Egypt: Postponement of ruling party conference suggests turmoil

The short notice and curt announcement about the postponement of the ruling party conference suggests turmoil in the party about two main issues: the selection of candidates and the whole thorny issue of who will be the party's choice for the elections for president next year.

Holding a party conference to demonstrate party unity when the candidates had not finally been selected was always high risk and likely to expose deep divisions.

The party is riven between the old guard, epitomised by secretary general Safwat El Sharif, and the younger, more forward looking members, including those behind the economic reforms who form a constellation revolving round the president's son Gamal Mubarak.

The annual conference was the brainchild of Gamal Mubarak, and the first such conference was held in 2000. That this one has been postponed could be seen as the old guard dispensing with innovation the better to preserve their control on the party.

The result of the parliamentary election is never in doubt. The ruling party will win a comfortable majority. But the election will provide guidance about popular support for different factions or currents within the party and so provide the regime with pointers as to what support it can rely on. In previous elections, party members disaffected by not being selected have stood as independents and often won against the chosen Natinal Democratic Party (NDP) candidate.

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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