Rules prevent an independent candidate from running for President of Egypt, but one man’s huge popular support could be threatening the established order.
April 13, 2010 4:59 by Ashraf Khalil
“You have seen how much support I got even before I set foot in Egypt,” ElBaradei told the Associated Press news agency. “It shows that people are ready, I would say even hungry for change. But this is still something that has to take roots and has to spread to different parts of the country.”
When influential talk show host Mona El Shazly told him that most Egyptian citizens “benefit from the stability” of the Mubarak regime, ElBaradei responded, “Let’s not fool ourselves. If a person can’t find food, can’t find medical treatment, and can’t find education, there’s no stability.”
Given the hype and hopes already surrounding ElBaradei, it’s easy to forget that, to date, he has only said he would run in next year’s elections if there were changes made to the constitution allowing fairer polls. Currently, it would be extremely difficult for him to get on the ballot: A 2005 constitutional amendment that established multi-candidate presidential elections also came with rules designed to ensure that no independent candidates could easily enter the race.
“For someone like myself to be unable to run for president, this is a disaster,” he said on Shazly’s “10pm” program. “How can a constitution bar 99 percent of the people from running?”
Candidates must serve as head of a licensed political party for one year – an option ElBaradei has said he would not prefer. To run as an independent, he would have to secure the backing of 250 representatives spread across both houses of parliament and local municipal councils – all of which are dominated by the ruling National Democratic Party. Changing that reality appears to top ElBaradei’s agenda. His most pressing demand is for constitutional reform to eliminate obstacles to an independent presidential candidacy.