For a new course in Egypt

29 January 2011

The Socialist International was awaiting a message from President Hosni Mubarak to the Egyptian people which would have provided a clear path for change – political change, and social and economic change.

Political change is needed to secure an open, democratic, inclusive and modern state based on respect for the freedoms and rights of the people. With a presidential election due to be held in September this year, political change means the lifting of all restrictions to the holding of free and fair elections with equal opportunities for all candidates, guarantees for their right to register and campaign, the freedom of assembly, freedom of the media, national and international observers, and all the mechanisms necessary to secure a free vote as in any normal democratic state. This was missing from President Mubarak’s speech, as it has been missing from the political life of Egypt.

Social change is required to root out corruption, favouritism, patronage and an increasing marginalisation and alienation of large sectors of society, in particular the new generations who, without opportunity or hope, are today taking to the streets. Economic change is urgent to provide jobs and prospects for those who desperately need it and to reduce the chronic poverty which touches millions who deserve a better future.

These changes are at the core of the people’s demands: freedoms, rights, jobs and opportunities. The role of politics is to provide them. That is why social democracy, which seeks to achieve these goals in every nation, recognises these demands and aspirations as its own.

There is a common thread, a common expectation throughout the entire region that can be found in today’s struggle for democratisation. We are reliving the same struggles that were fought in other parts of the world for democracy, for civil rights, for equal opportunities.

This struggle bears all the hallmarks of our own movement, and we have a stake in its success. For the Socialist International, success means change that respects human lives, that is peaceful, that recognises all sides and that leads to responsible democratic governance.

In the case of Egypt, with its key role as a partner of the international community – including our own International - in the search for peace and stability in the region, we are confident that gains in democracy and freedoms would lead to greater stability. The NDP did not deliver on its promise to the people and the changes demanded today will also be reflected in more peace and security in that part of the world.

The Socialist International stands alongside the democratic forces and people in Egypt in pursuit of a common vision of a world which is more free and fair, and where humane, inclusive and democratic societies can flourish. Like in so many other significant moments in history, solidarity has a crucial role to play in today’s events in that part of the world. The whole of the international community must embrace this moment and play its part alongside the people in Egypt and beyond.