Al-Adl Party was formally established in the wake of former President Mubarak’s ouster. The party declares that it seeks to protect the goals of Egypt’s January 25 Revolution and promote the country’s social and economic development. Al-Adl professes a liberal platform calling for a civil, free, and modern state though the party decided from the outset to not align itself with Egypt’s liberal or Islamist camps, calling instead for a “third way”.
Before the Revolution
Its main founding member, Mustafa Al-Naggar, is a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and a current member of the Revolution’s Youth Coalition. Al-Naggar has played an active role in the National Association for Change, a reform movement led by former UN official and presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei. The Association is a coalition of opposition figures and groups formed in 2010 to demand democratic reforms, as well as free and fair presidential elections in which independent candidates can run without being handpicked by the regime. Al-Naggar actively participated in Egypt’s January 25 Revolution, specifically in the eighteen-day Tahrir Square sit-in that ultimately led to Mubarak’s ouster.
Al-Naggar describes Al-Adl, which he co-founded following Mubarak’s resignation, as a party that offers Egyptians a centrist alternative to the Brotherhood, one guided by an effort to move beyond longstanding ideological rivalries that characterize Egyptian politics. Al-Adl, according to another founding member, represents a midway point between liberal and religious parties.
While Al-Adl Party participated in several “million-person” rallies after Mubarak’s ouster, in recent months, the party has focused largely on electoral campaigning and providing social services to low-income communities.
Tasked with running the party is a Supreme Council, which includes the party Chair, the Secretary General, fifty members directly elected by the General Assembly, Chairs of party organizations, representatives of governorate branches, and the party’s nationally-elected Members of Parliament. Both the party Chair and Secretary General are elected by the General Assembly comprised by governorate office members, the Chairs of party organizations (e.g. women’s and youth organizations) and function-based committees (e.g. Advisory, Media, Health and Education Committees). Al-Adl has branches in every Egyptian village or city where more than twenty party members reside. Governorate branches include all elected village- and city-branch members.
In upcoming parliamentary polls, Al-Adl Party will field a total of 195 candidates (out of a possible 678) in eighteen governorates for both the upper and lower houses of parliament. Through eighteen lists (out of a possible forty-six), Al-Adl will field 144 party-list candidates (out of a possible 332) for the parliament’s lower house, in addition to twenty-three candidates for single-winner races (out of a possible 166). Through five lists (out of a possible thirty), Al-Adl will field twenty party-list candidates (out of a possible 120), and eight candidates (out of a possible sixty) for the upper house of parliament’s single-winner races. There are 678 parliamentary seats in total that are up for election (498 in the lower house and 180 in the upper house). The legal framework governing the elections gives SCAF the right to appoint ten of the 508 members of the lower house, and ninety of the 270 members of the upper house.
Relationship with Other Political Parties
Al-Adl Party announced it would participate in the 2011/2012 elections independently of major alliances. Distancing itself from electoral coalitions, both liberal and Islamist, chose instead to propose the creation of The Third Path: The Egyptian Centrist Movement, a platform that sought to unite Egypt’s political forces and transcend traditional Islamist-secular divides. This initiative, however, never materialized, and Al-Adl Party remains largely independent.
When the MB-led Democratic Alliance and the secular-leaning Egyptian Bloc were formed earlier this year, Al-Adl Party refused to commit to either coalition. Al-Adl, however, was briefly a member of the Democratic Alliance. The party withdrew from this coalition early on the grounds that it would not cooperate with traditional opposition groups that were loyal to the previous regime and that benefited from its largesse. The alliance contained several parties that were pejoratively dubbed “paper parties” during the Mubarak era, in reference to the insignificance of their roles.
Stances on Salient Issues
Form of Government
According to its platform, Al-Adl Party believes in a “mixed” system of government that combines elements of presidential and parliamentary democracy based on separation of powers and executive accountability to the legislature.
Party officials say they want to build an economic system that guarantees social justice and development by giving a vibrant role to the private sector and limiting state intervention. Al-Adl Party encourages cooperation between public and private sectors to advance and manage major infrastructure projects.
The party aims to achieve national economic development by providing investment incentives, supporting scientific research and development, and investing in human resources. Egypt’s economic system, the party stresses, should be decentralized, transparent, and accountable so as to prevent corruption and monopolistic practices.
Al-Adl also calls for using Egypt’s natural resources in an environmentally friendly way and endorses greater reliance on renewable energy.
The party describes “social justice” as one of its fundamental guiding principles. Under this rubric, it proposes the introduction of a minimum wage for public sector employees, progressive taxes not to exceed thirty five percent, and tax exemptions for low-income households. Al-Adl’s “social justice” platform, however, falls short of also endorsing a minimum private sector.
Al-Adl calls for lifting price subsidies. The party proposes, instead that government cash subsidies be distributed directly to relevant recipients. Such a policy, according to Al-Adl, would ensure that subsidies reach communities who need them most.
Religion and Politics
According to its party program, Al-Adl Party adopts a centrist position, attempting to strike a balance between values associated with modern civil states and Egyptian society’s religious and cultural values.
Al-Adl Party endorses Article 2 of Egypt’s constitution, which states that Islam is the primary source of legislation in Egypt. The party also upholds the freedom of belief and religious practice to the extent by which they do not infringe on others’ rights. Al-Adl further supports human rights as expressed by international conventions and religious principles, and it calls for freedom of expression for all citizens.
Al-Adl embraces the concept of citizenship, which holds that all Egyptians are equal before the law, regardless of religion, gender, race or class. All citizens, the party believes, should enjoy equal opportunity vis-à-vis government employment and state appointments.
Strike Law and Labor Movements
Last June 2011, Al-Adl founder Mustafa Al-Naggar described the law banning strikes and demonstrations as “unacceptable” and called for the independence of labor unions and professional syndicates to help guarantee an active and effective civil society.
Al-Adl Party opposes the practice of referring civilian suspects to military trials and has condemned military prosecution of political activists. Al-Adl participated in the 9 September Tahrir demonstration entitled “Correcting the Path”, which was organized partly to protest the use of military trials by Egyptian authorities. The party also opposes all forms of torture and upholds each citizen’s right to privacy in all spheres of life.
Al-Adl Party proclaims a commitment to a foreign policy based on internationally accepted values of human rights, justice, and freedom. Regarding the Palestinian issue, the party platform states its support for all relevant international agreements and resolutions. It also supports Palestinians’ right to self-determination and to an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. Al-Adl opposes any normalization of relations with Israel until it returns Palestinian occupied territories and ceases hostilities against Palestinians.
Media Image and Controversies
The party witnessed mass resignations shortly after its establishment in late 2011. There were speculations that these resignations happened because of allegations that party leaders allowed former members of Mubarak’s now-defunct National Democratic Party into Al-Adl. Some commentators attributed these resignations to revelations that the party was receiving funds from famous businessman Hisham Al-Khazindar, managing director of Egypt’s largest private equity fund: Citadel Capital.
Since its establishment, Al-Adl Party has participated in several meetings with Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to discuss upcoming elections and other issues. The party again suffered internal ruptures after one meeting when Al-Naggar agreed to sign a highly contentious SCAF statement with thirteen other parties. The document implicitly upheld the extension of longstanding emergency laws and the practice of referring civilian suspects to military courts, although it offered parties some concessions related to elections law. Critics inside Al-Adl saw the document as a deadly compromise, because, in addition to upholding the aforementioned measures, it committed signatories to fully support the SCAF as a protector of the revolution and leader of Egypt’s transitional period.
In response, several Al-Adl Party members issued an official statement criticizing Al-Naggar for his decision. Shortly afterward, Al-Naggar declared that he had revoked his signature on the document, adding that he would leave it up to the party`s General Assembly to decide whether or not to commit the party to the statement. When the party’s General Assembly put the issue to a vote, a majority nevertheless agreed to endorse the controversial SCAF document.
A founding member of the Adl Party, Mustafa Al-Naggar was born in Alexandria in 1980. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in dentistry and a degree in mass communication from Cairo University and the American University in Cairo, respectively.
Al-Naggar hails from a family with traditional MB sympathies, and he himself became a member of the group’s youth wing although he eventually left it in 2005. Since his withdrawal from the Brotherhood, Al-Naggar has embraced a more “centrist” approach to Egyptian politics, which has largely become the foundation for Al-Adl Party.
Al-Naggar also played an active role in the National Association for Change reform movement. In 2010, Al-Naggar’s online human rights advocacy earned him an honorary award from the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees in Beirut, and at one point he served as coordinator for the Arab Journalists and Bloggers Network for Human Rights.
Al-Naggar actively participated in Egypt’s January 25 Revolution from the outset and was present for the eighteen-day Tahrir Square sit-in that ultimately led to Mubarak’s ouster.
A writer and political analyst, Al-Shobaki is a founding member of Al-Adl and is currently a member of the party’s Advisory Committee. Al-Shobaki graduated from Cairo University with a degree in political science in 1984 and obtained a doctorate in political science from France’s Sorbonne University in 2001.
An expert in domestic Egyptian politics and Islamist political movements, he currently works at the Cairo-based Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies and is the editor of Egyptian Affairs (Ahwal Mesreya) magazine. He is also the President of the Arab Forum of Alternatives, an organization that promotes democratic culture.
Al-Shobaki plans to run in Egypt’s 2011 parliamentary polls for an individual candidacy seat in the Giza governorate.
A former chairperson of Cairo University’s Department of Economics, Mona ElBaradei is one of Al-Adl Party’s most prominent members. She is the sister of former UN official and prominent presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei. She currently serves as President of the Egyptian National Council for Enhancing Competitiveness.
Mona ElBaradei calls for greater transparency in policymaking in Egypt, arguing that the absence of such transparency discourages foreign investment. She strongly criticizes the Mubarak regime for its tendency to focus on economic growth, while ignoring the issue of income distribution. She has consistently called for encouraging small Egyptian businesses and projects. She also is a proponent of setting national minimum and maximum public-sector wages.
Mona ElBaradei was an avid supporter of her brother’s 2010 campaign for constitutional reform and has backed his bid for the presidency.
[Developed in partnership with Ahram Online.]
From Jadaliyya Editors:
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