“I have hired an apartment that has two rooms and a small hall on the second floor against a monthly rent of EGP 500 to make it my campaign headquarters, but I am still unable to provide it with necessary equipment,” said Walid Abu Saree, coordinator of the ‘Localities for Youth’ election campaign.

“I have hired an apartment that has two rooms and a small hall on the second floor against a monthly rent of EGP 500 to make it my campaign headquarters, but I am still unable to provide it with necessary equipment,” said Walid Abu Saree, coordinator of the ‘Localities for Youth’ election campaign.

Saree is an independent candidate in the city of Itsa in Fayoum governorate. He is running for the parliament based on a request made by Itsa’s revolution youth to be their representative. They hope that the old figures of the dissolved National Democratic Party – previously headed by former President Hosni Mubarak – will not control the political arena.

Party campaigning umbrella

“In the beginning, I planned to run as an independent, but due to a lack of sufficient funds, I am running as a candidate of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, which identifies with my thoughts, and also because it is a moderate party that was formed after the January 25th Revolution,” says Saree.

“As the revolution’s young men in Itsa, we have launched our campaign using our own efforts and we have allocated EGP 20,000 (US $2,500), a modest amount that helps our campaigners move about.”

He suggests strong competition with other contenders, especially in light of the huge financial spending. However, the supportive youth blocs in the villages of the constituency are likely to make up for money shortage.

Tribal failures before Islamic movements

Saree does not believe that family and tribal blocs possess the same momentum they had prior to the revolution within his constituency. He cites the failures of these families in the face of their contenders from religious parties, whether the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafists, during previous parliamentary elections. Nonetheless, he relies on a number of villages ungoverned by fanaticism, such as Menyat Hait, Qulmashat and Matoul, against other fanatic villages, like Gharaq and Qassr Bassel.

Political immaturity

Despite Saree’s enthusiasm, he still fears the retreating role of the revolution’s youth in political and parliamentary life. He points to their underperformance in the 2012 parliament because of their failure to engage in youth blocs in the face of the Muslim Brotherhood. Saree expects that revolution youth in the 2015 parliament will not exceed 30 members because of the political immaturity they experienced under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, coupled with the media’s description of youth as anti-Egyptian army— this trend, he argues, has led to considerable political losses for the youth within the ranks of simple people.

Popularity vs. money

During his electoral tours, Saree says he observed how voters responded positively to him thanks to his efforts to address the problems of different villages and his promise to resolve them with the concerned authorities.

He says he will support localities and oblige the government to present the state budget transparently given Egypt’s lack of such a trend, while pressurizing the government to re-launch successful projects and factories suspended before the revolution.

Political capital speaks louder

Ayman Hilmy Mohammed, aka Ayman Safty, a Fayoum young revolution candidate in the city of Snouress, believes that political capital speaks louder in these elections and that 90 percent of Mubarak’s remnants who won in the 2010 parliamentary elections are running for the present elections. He, however, expects that many of them are likely to fail because people are seeking change.

“True, the revolution’s youth will not constitute the majority of the parliament members,” says Safty, “but new young figures will win and prominent remnant figures of Mubarak’s party are doomed.” He expects stronger representation of the revolution’s youth in the 2015 parliament than that of the 2012 parliament.

Effective role in 2012 parliament

Safty defends the role of the revolution’s youth in the 2012 parliament, claiming that they, especially Ziad Ulaymi, Bassem Kamel and Mustafa Najjar, performed well and left their mark. He pointed in particular to a questioning led by MP Bassem Kamel of the Minister of Interior because his ministry officers were firing bullets at protestors during the events of Mohammad Mahmoud Street. Safty believes that Kamel’s voice at the time was weak because he was not a member of a unified parliamentary bloc amid the hegemony over the parliament by Islamic parties.

EGP 50,000 for campaign

Safty has only allocated EGP 30,000-50,000 (US $3,800 – $6,300) for his electoral campaign. “I am more dependent on persuasion and on promoting an idea rather than on a particular figure,” he says. “I try to make prospective voters more convinced of the projected ideas so that an MP will be an ambassador of those voters at the parliament.”

Safty claims that he focuses on meetings with voters and using leaflets, and that his campaigners escort him in his tours without getting a single pound because they uphold “a cause.”

Weak tribalism

Safty stresses that the family and tribal factor plays a crucial role in elections, but the situation in Snouress is different where the turnout for elections is usually high because many individuals have abandoned tribalism. He says he has managed to mobilize a number of young volunteers in the electoral committees to assist him during the voting process – in the absence of money.

Given the inadequate financial support he receives from his party, Safty is using his family money where he has allotted one storey in his father’s house in Snouress as campaign headquarters.

Fanaticism and tribalism

Dr. Ahmed Bura’ee, a leader in the Wafd Party and the Wafd Reform Movement in Fayoum Governorate, disagrees with Saree and Safty about the political implications of these elections. He believes that Fayoum governorate has a different nature and that religious movements control politics, in addition to the spread of poverty and poor educational levels. These factors, says Bura’ee, entrench the same criteria on the basis of which prospective MPs are chosen, which have barely changed.

Weak opportunities

Bura’ee underscores that tribalism and fanatical religious attitudes dominate, which explains why political funding plays a pivotal part in the electoral process. Money can change voters’ attitudes and will ultimately make young candidates’ entry into the parliament an unattainable dream. “Perhaps the chances of the coastal governorates and Cairo are a little better than those of Fayoum,” he said.

Bura’ee believes that the electoral lists have considerably contributed to addressing young people’s issues, which makes the winning of a number of young candidates a certainty. On the other hand, political parties have played no role in their election as some young people have been forced on their lists, thus disrupting the main objective of youth election. He hopes that future solutions can be found for marginal groups’ representation.

Bura’ee argues that the revolution’s youth is a phenomenon that is very much alive although their presence on the street has become less. He says people’s hopes have been pinned to the person of the President, which has resulted in the marginalization of many political forces.

Revolution’s youth are neglectful

Coordinator of the National Assembly for Change in Fayoum Issam Zuhairy holds the revolution’s youth responsible for their declining political role.

“Some claim having revolutionary positions, but refrain from entering into coalitions or political parties,” says Zuhairy. “This attitude reflects a failure on the part of the revolution’s youth to exercise political action and interact with these political parties using the latter’s own methods.”

There is another shortcoming on the part of the state for failing to form a genuine party democratic system because the current electoral system combines the various disadvantages of politics in Egypt. It has failed to give a consistent margin for parties to compete in elections in accordance with party programs and genuine political visions. Besides, the existing political parties are not strong enough to run for the elections under that system.”

Unsuccessful electoral system

Zuhairy underlines that the revolution’s youth should have been part of strong party blocs. He blames the existing electoral system for disrupting the party concept because it has allocated most of the seats of the parliament to independents, which makes it difficult for the revolution’s youth or money-less politicians to win in the elections and have an influential bloc in the parliament. He believes that facing the problem of family and tribalism in the elections requires strong and concerted social and institutional efforts that shun selfishness and self-centered attitudes.

Investing money in the parliament

Zuhairy describes the present status of elections as being based on investment of funds where candidates spend large sums of money to get to the parliament as a way to make more money. He holds the current political regime responsible for this situation and believes that should the current status quo not change, young revolutionaries will take to the streets again.