Friday, May 13, 2005

Opposition withdrawal

Kefaya and the opposition are urging Egyptians to boycott the Constitution amendment referendum. Shame on you. Is that all you could do. Ask me to be more passive and apathetic!

Khaled MohyElDin, the Tagammu party presidential candidate already withdrew from the elections. Too bad, if I had a chance to vote in that election, I would've actually voted for him. I'm not a leftist (I don't like them actually), and I'm not a member of Tagammu, but I'd vote for him as an individual --not for his party. I believe that he is the best candidate out there, although its too late for him, and he's too old. But looking at it differently, and in a rational state, he'd be a good candidate to lead Egypt for a 1-2 year democractic transitional period, openning up more freedoms and starting to institutionalize real democracy.

So Khaled MohyElDin is withdrawing from the elections, Ayman Nour is thinking about it, the Muslim Brotherhood are sucking up to the regime, and AlWafd party and Kefaya are calling for boycotting the referundum. What a sick political scene.

I really can't believe that they're already calling for a referundum boycott by the people. What kind of an opposition and a national movement is this! The battle is just starting, and you're already asking us to withdraw! They call us to withdraw, and then they go back to the street to demonstrate. I don't get it. Are you just enjoying the media coverage, issuing press releases and hanging out in the streets and getting beaten? and as soon as there's action required by the people, you ask them to withdraw.. withdraw even more.

I've written before against boycotting elections and those who do it, questioning the benefit reaped from that. I think its the losers strategy. Calling for a boycott from now tells me that they're already throwing the towel, in round one!

I figure that the reason for boycotting elections is to render it invalid (by not being representative), and to weaken the vote-garnered strength of the winner. And since a win by Mubarak under the new election laws --competing against a number of other candidates-- would legitimize his presidency and strenghten it, there might be an argument to eventually boycott the elections I guess. But its way too early to call now.

Calling on people to boycott the referundum (and eventually the elections) is not a card that you have which you can play with. You either mobilize the people to participate, be active, and go vote, or you shut up and stop calling yourself a real opposition or a national movement.

As apathetic as I may be, I'm planning to go vote in the referendum coming up on May 25. Not for any reason, except for fun, and to go against the will of the withdrawn opposition.

Today, I'll be watching the general assembly of the Judges Club who have a meeting and will be issuing a statement afterwards. That should be something worth watching.

Update: Just bought this week's issue of AlAhaly (Tagammu party) newspaper, which says that the party has not decided yet whether to withdraw from the elections or not. Well, they'd better not pull out.


Me, Myself and I said...

Personally speaking I do not have a confirmed position regarding all depends on the kind of democracy day I am going through ..whether it is a good or a bad one. That said, I also realize that this kind of impetus can not be that guiding how decisions are made by political movements/forces/bodies or whatever. While one can look at boycotting as a sign or withdrawal, passivity, impotence, giving up etc…it is also a way of registering a position that one is not willing to be part of a farce especially in the context of referendums/elections that are marred with rigging and irregularities-am not sure if the referendum polls with be manned by judges or not and the extent to which this will safeguard it and make any difference. I suppose if the process is going to be rigged, boycotting here plays a role of embarrassing the regime (sadly a thick skinned one, and have learnt to easily get over temper tantrums thrown by the American/international community and the NY Times and Washington Post) and allowing it to give in more, but how, when etc…with the presidential elections around the corner. In a context where referendums/election or whatever processes are not rigged, and such reform movements is able to mobilize enough to vote against the idea then boycotting does not make sense. As I would imagine, if it turns out to be a NO for the amendment of Article 76 in this instance, it goes back to the Parliament/government/NDP Secretariat of Policies/the regime they are all interchangeable in my mind to be reworked. The point here becomes if Kefaya and others (Wafd and possibly others…news are conflicting) have called for a boycotting what are they suggesting otherwise…Curious too as to how such decisions are made in the case of Kifaya in particular do they have a general assembly??

Mohamed said...

The news is certainly conflicting, because the opposition apparently doesn't know what to do. But I'm taking a step ahead here and slapping them in the face in case they do decide to withdraw and call on us to boycott.

DNA said...

They wouldn't know what to do in ANY case, simply because they aren't real political parties with genuine thoughts on what they want to achieve (reasons aside).

Boycotting ANY election is, to me, the dumbest thing anyone can do. EVEN IF the elections were rigged, what will boycotting achieve? Don't want to be part of the 'farce'? You already are! Calling for an end to the NDP's stronghold without contributing a single positive step is a farce. Switching sides (a la MB) is a farce. Calling yourself a social movement incapable of increasing your base after months of demonstrating is a farce.

Go out there and vote, and tell your friends and family about it. Make voting - the right of the individual to choose - part of the Egyptian rumour mill. Make it part of the shit people talk about (instead of Nancy Agram, Ruby and 3orfee marriageS). When that happens, I'd expect a lot more people to start finding the voice needed to give support (or demand the formation of) to political parties.

TIC said...

I just returned from the CHAOS that is Abdel-Khaleq Tharwat street where THUGS took over the press syndicate and the pavements surrounding under the protection of the police. The entire area was blocked, 6 reporters were arrested.
I'm not writing this to convince anybody to do anything, but I wouldn't dare sit in my room/office and claim I know better than the real people doing the real work and subjecting themselves to arrest, humiliation, harassment and intimidation. I saw it with my own eyes and I'm shocked that you guys just sit there and pontificate about what's the right or wrong political action. Move your lazy behinds and do something about it instead of practising politics from the comfort of your isolated rooms and computers or slamming everyone as farcical when you know very little about what's going OUT there in the STREET.
I would think twice about writing about "farces."
I'm angry and sad that I'm reading this. Some people are just too scared to do anything except criticise those who are brave enough to do something. Shame.

Mohamed said...

Sorry that I contributed to your anger and sadness TIC, but don't expect me to hit the streets in support of people who are incapable of communicating with me.

I did say that I'm apathetic, and I did say that I'm going to vote in the referundum still. I'm simply against those hollow demonstrations which lead to a shameless call to boycotting elections and to more apathy by the people.

TIC said...

You are not doing anyone a favour by hitting the streets Mohamed, but at least show some respect for those who are doing this for a better Egypt.

Mohamed said...

That's exactly what I mean by "people who are incapable of communicating with me".

DNA said...

Your hints aren't too subtle are they TIC?

Where do you see me, or anyone else for that matter, saying we 'know' better than the people you want to make out as heros? All I said was my opinion, which is that we shouldn't boycott the referendum. I'm sorry you disagree with me that this whole thing - including the opposition - is a farce. I'm a pragmatist. If you disagree with my pragmatism, that's your choice. I don't have to support the same people you do. I also don't quite see how the people calling for the boycott 'know' better (i.e. know that boycotting the referendum is most definitely the right thing to do).

Also, as Mo puts it, the amazing thing about all of this is that Kefaya's strongest advoates seem to be alienating a great deal of people by being so defensive about it.

'Practicing politics' isn't about 'pointifcating' on a website. To me, politics isn't about marching in the streets either. Politics is knowing how to get what you want without being thrown in jail in the process. Voting is part of that process. How is boycotting the referendum - one facet of politics - not practicing politics?

And what is it exactly that I need to know about what is going on OUT there on the streets? Does the fact that people are demonstrating automatically mean they qualify for my support? What if what they are demonstrating for isn't to my liking? What if I don't support protesting? Wala eh? Bel3afya ya3ni?

I always said critisism was easier, and I always said I was a coward. You don't want my contribution (i.e. you just want to eff off and not say a word)? So be it. But don't wonder too much about why these protests never pick up steam, because you'll find that the vast majority of people are - sadly - like me. It's a fact.

Besides, there are a million and one ways to 'do something.' I'm still thinking about what I can do from the relative comfort of my own home, which happens to be a very long way away from Egypt.

Finally, why do you think people like Mo and me BOTHER with this shit? Because we want to inflate our egos on the net to a bunch of disaffected, disconnected, disillusioned bloggers like us (sorry Mo)? What would motivate us to do this? We too want the best for Egypt walahi.

Look TIC - you don't have to like us. Hell, you don't even have to read what we say. There's a lot about what is going on in Egypt that angers me and makes me sad, but it's not the same thing. I guess its normal and somehow healthy for us to disagree, as long as we all know we're serving the same goal: a better Egypt.

DNA said...

I need to make a submission of ignorance about the effectivness of the boycott. Will a 'no' result or a 'null' result (assuming the results aren't figged) mean the amendment goes back to parliament for revision?

Maybe this is what TIC meant when she said 'we don't know.' If that is the case, and my ignorance is proven, then I must apologise.

Alaa said...

I understand the arguments against boycotting elections, I don't see how they apply to the referendum at all.

the two choices of yes or no are practically the same, why bother going?

when you go to a rigged election you make it a bit harder to rig (its easier to vote in your place than to change your vote), but for this I don't see the benefit.

AFAIK what angers you guys is how overrated the whole thing is, from the ammendment to kefaya, yes they're overrated yes they generate too much hype and no one wants to be modest and admit the movement is small.

DNA said...

I wonder if the 6 reporters TIC speaks of are these:

Alaa - I think the act of voting is in itself - at least - a psychological victory. How many people do you know have voted in their entire lives? I mean, in my entire family, I don't know anyone who's ever voted. Ever. Even if the results were rigged, I'd like the opportunity to vote, referendum or not. I don't know, call me childish :)

Alaa said...

A no means the amendment is refused and the old text remains intact.

of course the president can ask for another amendment any number of times but that would leave very little time (I'll try to find out more about the time contraints).

one thing that has to be said though is that kefaya suck at communicating their rationale for the boycott.

DNA said...

So if people boycott the referendum, and say, no one votes - not a single solitary human being, the amendment becomes null and nothing happens?

How is that good?

Ammar Ya Masr said...

Indeed it is a VERY VERY "Sick Political Scene". It is evident that the opposition(s) are in a very difficult position to be in.
a very un-Just and sadly a lot of scared, cowerds, poor people, and Illiterate folks that make it even far more difficult for the opposition. Apathy is understood from the poor,scared, and Ignorant.

Apathy is far more dangerous from the half educated & the semi-Intellectuals like us.

In such a very sick scene the Opposition usually try to resort to any kind of noise that it can cause in hope of reaching out inside & outside that sick sphere. Have it demonstrations on the street or Boycottings a process in the usualy (unfortunatly long path) of progress.

After All, there are such a thing as "Professional Politicians" that have( or NOT) a better judgment of what a poltical action or position is registered.

A referendum and the way it is presented is another "Blow" and very bad taste even to the semi-intellectuals like us in a very bad movie of the NDP denying the opportunity for some serious poltical reforms and hopfuly :Better Egypt. After all these years & latest Hypes, it boils down to the famous Yes or No referendum. What a shame!

Alaa said...

no if people vote no nothing happens except maybe an oppertunity to calim the people don't want multicandidate elections good photo op thats all, if people vote yes cosmetic changes happen good photo op thats all, if people don't show up nothing happens and no photo ops.

Mohamed said...

I am simply against the boycotting here, that's all guys. I'm not judging Kefaya. I do respect what they're doing, but I have big questions as to the way they're doing it. But that's not the issue here. The issue is that the only way they see people active and positive is if they see them demonstrating in the street, when they are calling for people to remain apathetic in the real political process, referundums and elections.

So, if the majority vote in the referundum is No, the old text is kept intact. Guess what, that is still a victory to me. Everyone will know that the overwhelming turnout of the people to the polling stations was to reject the cosmetic and restrictive changes in the text, and they should be forced (by the supposed political powers) to give in more, and change it properly, even if there's no time before the elections. The problem is not for this election (those strict rules are already relaxed for this one).

So if people show up and say yes, the cosmetic restrictive changes (which we don't want applies). If people don't show up and boycott, there's absolutely nothing new there, and the few people are paid to go are the only ones who will count. If people show up and say No, the old text remains, but the regime will be under intense pressure to make the changes in the amendment real. Just a large show-up is a massive shift in the political scene that the regime cannot ignore. And this, only this is what the opposition should be working hard for, not boycotting, damn it.

The problem here is not what the text of the amendment says, its the disassociation of the people from the whole process, its that the regime has a free hand to do whatever they want, because they're working in a big void. No political powers are filling that void, and when people can attempt to partially fill it by going to the polling stations, they are urged not to by the opposition ("keep the void, keep the void", huh!).

You know what, even in those old rigged presidential referundums, if an overwhelming number of people turn out at the ballot boxes to say No, it would be very hard for them to rig it. Just by showing how people are involved and care about the outcome would scare the hell out of the regime. This is what we should be calling for. I find it shameful that an opposition or a national movement calls for people to stay even more apathetic, by boycotting any political process, even if its a farce process. How else can you turn it into a real process!

What good is it if the whole constitution is changed but people are still not involved! I'd rather have people involved in a sham constitution than have a perfect constitution that is not used by the people and does not benefit them.

DNA said...

Well said Mo - I was trying to hit that nail on the head, but kept missing.

Orientalism said...

TIC,MO and others

I was there yesterday and i blogged about it. Even though it was chaotic, nontheless, for second there, it felt free inside the syndicate, with the hordes surounding outside

Rancher said...

This is a difficult dilemma. Not to vote silences your voice but to vote in a rigged election legitimizes a fraud.

DNA said...

Rancher - granted.

But NOT voting does not de-legitimize the fraud, simply because the people calling for the boycott aren't popular enough to convince everyone from boycotting it. Besides, the few who will won't be enough to de-legitimize the poll.

Alaa said...

IMO the suggestion to nullify our votes is the one that makes most sense.

don't boycott go there and vote both yes or no or leave it blank, make it clear that you choose to void your vote, make it clear that you're not staying home but you don't want to join in their charade.

Me, Myself and I said...

are the judges going to oversee the referundum or they are "on strkie" until they meet again in september and make a decision based on the outcome of the regime meeting their demands? Did anyone read the interview M gave this mrng to Al Garralla?? Than man is losing it...

Ayman Alzawahery said...

Boycotting election! ya, that will realy teach them! What a bunsh of morons.

Craig said...

Mohamed, what is a leftist in Egypt?

Note: I am a American Christian Crusader, and I describe myself thus because one of your respondents who says he is an Arab Christian living in the US calls Americans, and he must be the authority on the subject of who I am and what my motivations are :)

I ask because in the US, a leftist would be a Liberal... actually, a progressive, but they hijacked the term Liberal some 50 years ago and we never got it back. If a leftist is a socialist/communist in Egypt, you'll never get a democracy out of them. Neither will you get a democracy out of a conservative - conservatives want to keep things the way they are, by definition. (I am mildly conservative myself) - and I don't think you'll get what you want from a progressive either. Progressives think in terms of moving things forward from where they currently are... a long term approach. Actually, that may be your best bet... I don't know what Egyptians want or what they can realistically attain.

All the western democracies were formed by radical liberals (in the original sense of the word, meaning human rights, individual freedoms, etc) which sprang out of the philosophy of European Humanists in the early 1700s. I don't know of any successful democracies that have been built (rather than imposed, like Germany's) using any other method. From the examples of Britain, France, and The United States - two of those were so radical they required bloody revolution to change governments.

Not making any suggestions or giving any advice here. Egypt may be the first to find a new way, and I wish you the best of luck with whatever course you set :)

Mohamed said...

Yes Craig, a leftist here is basically a socialist economically, mostly anti-American politically, and somewhat socially liberal. If you're refering to my leaning to vote for Khaled MohyelDin, I did say that I don't particularly like socialists here --but I'll vote for him as an individual.

I too think that if we're really looking forward to a better life in Egypt (whatever definition of democracy that may require), we do need radical change (liberal or not). I don't know who could bring democracy --if it ever comes. But I am welcoming any radical and massive change, especially one that will shake our society. I have big questions about the potential changes we're seeing in Egypt these days, which would most likely result in an eventual rollback to the current state of affairs.

Me, Myself and I said...

well contributing to this discussion on boycotting of ref.and in an effort to enlighten us.the Minister of Endownment announced todayhatsettled it today and stated that participating in the referendum in a relegious duty...well at least he had the deceny and sense not to claim takfeer those who are not going to not really now what is categorized as duty...they are different than the repercussions of failing to fulfill duties...hummm don't whoever out there , considering him/herself a good endowee--get off ur butt and the way doesn't he sound a bit like bush..yucks

Mohamed said...

If he did say that, it would make me glad actually --its not like anyone will listen to him. Atleast he's encouraging people to be active and participate.

On the other hand, didn't Baheyya quote the Supreme Judicial Council as saying that the Judges monitoring of the elections was a "Sacred Duty". You know what that means, if they refuse to do a "sacred" duty.

Me,Myself and I said...

Will it render them apostate???..and hey i was not worried re the impact of his statement on moblizing the public-and i respect ur views re giving up apathy and go out and get the vote..just get miffed at invoking relegiosity to secular issues....

haal said...

Is it too late to ask this question? If this yes/no result was a complete farce, what is the benefit of voting then? Some people believe that boycotting, and demonstration are a real demo. to embarressing the government and a serious refusal to the fake ta3deel thing! They regard it as a sign to the emerging of a new social, political fabric.
What do u think?

Mohamed said...

I basically said what I think regarding this in my previous comment here.

To sum up, what we need is a movement that encourages people to be active and involved, not ask them for more boycotting, when they've been boycotting the political life for decades already. The result doesn't matter, what matters is people's involvement. And that alone could give us some weight against the regime.