Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/407/4633

From The Socialist newspaper, 15 September 2005

Egypt: Farcical election dents Bush's Middle East strategy

WITH 89% of the votes, Egypt's first contested presidential election on September 7th could have been a crushing victory for Hosni Mubarak. But according to official figures only 23% voted.

Jon Dale

No independent monitors were allowed at polling stations. Opponents claim turnout was 10%-15% in the countryside and under 5% in cities. Voting is compulsory in Egypt! At most, fewer than one in five adults voted for the 77-year old president, in power for 24 years.

With so many legal obstacles preventing opposition candidates standing, the election was designed to have only one possible victor. Egyptians joked that only candidates with 24 years presidential experience could stand.

Until now, Egyptians had the choice of voting 'Yes' or 'No' to Mubarak every six years in a referendum. To help them make up their minds, soldiers, riot police and torturers stamped on any sign of opposition. In case there was still any doubt, ballot rigging was widespread. In 1999 Mubarak claimed 94% of the vote, with a turnout of 10%.

Growing pressure forced Mubarak to announce this election. Egypt's economy had been growing quite rapidly during the 1990s until cheaper textiles from East Asia undercut one major industry and attacks on Western tourists, followed by 9/11, seriously weakened another.

44% live on less than $2 a day. Privatisation in the 1990s led to many job losses. Prices, especially of food, went up 30% between 1999 and 2004. Seven million public sector employees lost over half the value of their salaries.

A new wave of privatisation began last year, pushed forward by Mubarak's son, Gamal - a former investment banker with the Bank of America in Cairo and London. Several businessmen and US-educated economists around him entered the cabinet last year. In response, a number of strikes have taken place, despite trade unions being state-controlled.

Anger at the US invasion of Iraq, soon spread to anger at widespread poverty. 40,000 demonstrated in Cairo when Iraq was invaded in March 2003.

On the first anniversary 2,000 demonstrators assembled, despite the presence of 5,000 security personnel. The demonstration quickly became a protest at the government's economic policies. "Atef [Ebeid, the Prime Minister] a kilo of beans costs six [Egyptian] pounds! Atef, the people of Egypt [are forced to] eat bricks!" Protest leaders called out: "They wear the latest fashions!" The crowd responded: "And we live ten to a room!"

Anger

Satellite TV has become more widespread, making it harder for the Mubarak regime to control the news Egyptians see. Pictures from Iraq and Palestine have fuelled anger against the US and Mubarak, a loyal supporter of the US throughout his rule. Egypt receives the second highest amount of US aid in the world, after Israel. Most of the $2 billion is spent on the armed forces and police.

Bush's Iraq policy is in a terrible mess. He claimed Saddam's overthrow would lead to a flowering of democracy in Iraq and become a beacon across the Middle East. As chaos has grown, it became an embarrassment that democracy was as far away as ever in Egypt, their key ally in the region.

Fearing the opposition to Mubarak would boil over, leading to his replacement by a regime much more hostile to US interests, Condoleezza Rice cancelled a visit to Egypt in January and withheld $1 billion aid.

Within days, Mubarak announced his change of heart over elections. But this is not evidence of Bush's success in bringing democracy to the Middle East.

Some parties boycotted the election. The Muslim Brotherhood is thought to have support from about a quarter of the population. Although prevented from standing themselves, they called on Egyptians to vote for whomever they thought would be a just and fair ruler, rather than join the boycott. The Brotherhood's leadership (drawn from the better-off layers of society) wants to become a legal party. It is hoping for concessions after not opposing this sham election.

Younger Brotherhood members, especially students, have come under pressure to join protests for democratic rights. 'Kifaya' ('Enough') is a grouping of intellectuals, Islamists and activists that has organised many protests for democracy since last December, of between a few hundred and about 3,000. Although these have exposed the limitations of Mubarak's democratic credentials, with police and hired thugs being used to beat up protestors, Kifaya has not yet been able to organise mass action.

Egypt's large working class has yet to make its voice heard. No workers' party is putting forward a programme that could solve the desperate problems of poverty, jobs, housing, education and health, combining it with a programme for democratic rights. There was widespread cynicism during the election that it would make any difference, with the result seen as a foregone conclusion.

The low turnout is a serious setback to Mubarak's attempt to head off growing pressure against his repressive regime by making concessions from above. It is also another heavy blow to Bush's Middle East strategy.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 15 September 2005:

March against war, terror and racism

Poverty Kills

Aftermath of hurricane Katrina: a window on the future under capitalism

Education: Fight Blair's 'market forces' solution

New Labour aims to privatise Job Centres

Labour's 1945 landslide

Northern Ireland: Riots show failure of peace process

South African workers gatecrash capitalists' party

Campaign to stop European Nazi camp

Farcical Egyptian election dents Bush's Middle East strategy


 

Home   |   The Socialist 15 September 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Egypt:

triangleEgypt: Support for al-Sisi dwindles as his regime increases repression

triangleEgypt: Street protests challenge Trump's favourite dictator

triangleCounter-revolution in Sudan

triangleExclusive interview with Gazan activist: "The more they kill us, the more the anger increases"

triangleTrump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Middle East:

triangleBirmingham SE Socialist Party: Middle East mass protests - a socialist way forward

triangleEast London Socialist Party: Starmer wins Labour leadership - do we need a new political party for the working class?

triangleYemen's desperate civil war fuelled by imperialism and regional powers

triangleSyria: Assad regime consolidates power after brutal counterrevolution

Election:

triangleA critical election for Unison general secretary

triangleUCU: election victory for combative rank and file

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: The US presidential election

US:

triangleA day in the life of a salon worker

triangleNews in brief

Iraq:

triangleTV: Once Upon a Time in Iraq

International

International

23/9/20

Thailand

Thailand: Youth rising against hated junta

16/9/20

Egypt

Egypt: Support for al-Sisi dwindles as his regime increases repression

16/9/20

Nigeria

Nigerian police repress peaceful anti-government protest

9/9/20

Belarus

Belarus: Mass opposition continues to defy repression by Lukashenko's regime

9/9/20

Iran

Strike wave marks new stage in revival of Iranian workers' movement

2/9/20

Israel

Mass protests in Israel demand Netanyahu's resignation

19/8/20

Lebanon

Revolutionary mood in Lebanon following horrific explosion

19/8/20

Belarus

Mass protests and strikes rock Belarus

19/8/20

Trotsky

New book: Leon Trotsky - A Revolutionary Whose Ideas Couldn't Be Killed

10/8/20

Lebanon

Revolutionary mood in Lebanon following horrific explosion

5/8/20

Cuba

Cuba: Covid-19 and the 60-year-old embargo

5/8/20

Nuclear weapons

Anniversary of nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

22/7/20

Iran

Iran: Renewed wave of protests and strikes

22/7/20

Israel

Israel: Nurses strike and win

8/7/20

Hong Kong

Hong Kong: The fight for democratic rights

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999