Egypt's controversial new parliament has convened in business-as-usual fashion despite the opposition's accusations that the new house is illegitimate and must be dissolved. Truth be told, there hasn’t been a single Egyptian parliament in the last 30 years whose legitimacy wasn't questioned after an election. Calls to have parliament dissolved are nothing new.
The 1984 and 1987 parliaments, which were elected according to a proportional representation/party list system and in which the opposition (including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Wafd and the Labor Party) won a considerable number of seats, were both challenged by detractors on legal grounds and eventually dissolved by court orders. The 2005 parliament, which was elected under full judicial supervision of every ballot box, also faced a similar challenge.
After every election, the new parliament’s legitimacy is contested, rumors are spread and attempts to have parliament dissolved through legal channels are made. Despite these efforts, public accusations are usually brushed aside, court rulings are ignored and the new parliament wins out–at least in recent years.
Why then should we have any hope that this new parliament can actually be dissolved by a constitutionally mandated court order, or that the same president that publicly praised the elections two days ago will suddenly be convinced that the new parliament is illegitimate?
Those invested in legal action to bring down the parliament know, as does the Egyptian public, that all the court orders in the world will not make a difference. The regime will find a thousand excuses not to carry out these orders or will find ways around them, especially with a crucial year ahead in which presidential elections are set to be held.
Under these circumstances there are no fair bets. Change will not come from within the regime, though that would be the easiest way out of Egypt’s political predicament. This has been made even clearer after all the remaining voices of reason in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) were silenced by a senseless faction that wants to monopolize party power.
On the other hand, hopes that Egypt’s official opposition parties can bring about change have long been abandoned. These parties have proven quite weak in the face of the NDP. In some cases they've even betrayed the trust of the Egyptian people by sacrificing their principles to make deals with the regime and security officials. Such actions have only been to these parties’ detriment.
Our best bet for change now is the Egyptian people. The lesson learned from these elections is that all other channels for democratic change have been blocked, the ballot box first and foremost. The only way for the opposition to remain politically relevant is to join the Egyptian street. And when the street is the only game in town then change will be sought by any means necessary..
Translated from the Arabic Edition.