Economic and social conditions in Egypt before the presidential elections
A reading provided by the Presidential Election Observatory “Egypt 2018”
Economic and social conditions play an important role in shaping the electoral environment, whether presidential, parliamentary or local, and in countries whose political system takes a presidential form in which the head of state is the head of the executive authority and enjoys broad executive powers, as well as important powers in the legislative process and formulation of public policies. These conditions are a decisive factor in the electoral contest for the presidential position, as they determine the nature of the candidates' programs and their political discourse, as well as greatly affect voting trends and the extent of participation in the electoral process in general.
In the Egyptian case, economic and social conditions are gaining increasing importance, especially in light of the implementation of a financial reform program that overshadowed many indicators of the economy and public services, as well as economic and social demands were an important factor that shaped the nature of the Egyptian political movement during the years preceding and following my revolution January 25, 2011 June 30, 2013.
It should be noted what the economic and social conditions are. According to the definition of the United Nations, economic and social conditions include the right to adequate food, to adequate housing, to education, to health, to social security, to access to water and sanitation services, and to work. The report deals with a review of the current situation in Egypt, with the approaching presidential elections.
Within the framework of the work of the “Egypt 2018” Presidential Election Observatory of the Maat Foundation for Peace, Development and Human Rights, this report that analyzes the economic and social conditions of Egypt comes before the presidential elections scheduled for 2018, and puts forth a conceptual vision of the current situation, which is sure to affect the presidential elections. Whether it is covered in candidates’s programs, or by talking about it in the media, as well as how these situations can be used as material to attack a particular candidate or be a trump card for another.
Economic conditions ... and the bill for carrying forward reform decisions
The Egyptian economy has been exposed to many crises since 2011, which have caused a deterioration in the economic situation and a decline in the standard of living for a large proportion of the Egyptian people, which had a direct impact on the state of public services and the state's ability to fulfill its obligations related to providing them with adequate quality.
Successive governments after the January 2011 revolution until mid-2014 failed to take measures or adopt policies capable of stopping the economic downturn and reforming the main economic structures, which led to a sharp decline in the state’s revenues, especially from the tourism sector, which is the main source of hard currency, and exacerbated The state's general budget deficit with the expansion of resorting to debt instruments, as well as the successive governments ’continuing to inject funds to meet social and class demands and calm the political situation without sufficient cover from the cash reserve and without a tangible increase in production.
After the current president assumed power in June 2014, the adoption of financial reform measures in the context of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund aimed at reducing the state's public budget deficit and investing in infrastructure facilities closely related to attracting investments, especially the road, electricity and energy sectors, measures that had a positive impact on Financial institutions ’evaluation of the future of the business climate in Egypt, but it had a very negative impact on social services, citizens’ purchasing power, price stability, and the amount of support that the state used to provide for public services and the prices of many strategic goods and energy.
The current situation of the Egyptian economy and its social and political impacts clearly express the accumulations of previous decades in which the state - for purely political considerations - refrained from taking decisions that would build a well-defined economic model aimed at achieving decreasing rates of the annual deficit of the state's general budget and creating an appropriate climate for investment and energy transfer. Mankind to real productive energy. Therefore, many view recent economic decisions and measures as a "bitter medicine" that has been delayed in administering it to the patient for decades, but many also have severe discontent with these decisions and question their usefulness.
A reading of some of the current economic and social indicators
The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics announced an increase in the rate of inflation during the first half of the current year by about 31%, which caused a significant increase in prices, and directly affected the prices of food, medicine and other commodities, causing citizens' dissatisfaction with the economic decisions that increased from Their burdens, and their rights to adequate food were affected as a result of the decrease in the income rate compared to the high prices. It should be noted that the Ministry of Supply has issued a decision to raise the value of the subsidy on the ration cards, so that the individual balance on the card becomes 50 pounds instead of 21, which helped reduce the size of the damages that hit prices, despite their being insufficient.
Health and education
The health and education sectors suffer from the presence of many crises that prevent the improvement of the services provided by each sector, and the health sector is witnessing a significant deterioration, whether in infrastructure or in manpower, as a result of several factors, the most prominent of which is the decrease in state allocations to the health sector, which was approved by the Egyptian constitution by 3% of GDP and gradually increasing To be consistent with international rates, which average between 8% and 10%, which is a percentage indicating the weak volume of Egyptian spending on this important sector, and the same sector also witnesses the weakness of the services provided to patients in government hospitals, whether the shortage of medicines and solutions or the spread of neglect by many doctors and staff Nursing, and the multiplicity of reports filed against government hospitals in medical incidents that caused deaths, as well as the pharmaceutical sector was severely affected by the economic reform measures, especially the liberalization of the exchange rate, as the prices of thousands of items of medicine increased with rates reaching 50%, with a severe shortage of some items It is known in the media as the "shortcomings" crisis, as Egypt is witnessing two crises related only to medicine, which are significant price increases, as well as the presence of important types of drugs. It is not present, which increases the suffering of patients, especially those with chronic diseases.
As for education Which is considered a measure of the country's renaissance, and it is witnessing a great delay in Egypt due to several factors, most notably educational curricula and the absence of development commensurate with the recent technological boom, as well as the weakness of educational institutions in terms of infrastructure and the overcrowding of classrooms in many schools, which resulted in the poor quality of education in these schools. And, the educational system needs to be completely restructured as a result of its failure to deal with work requirements. Graduates of various universities cannot find jobs related to the specializations they have studied, which is a major challenge that Egypt faces in the coming period.
Drinking water and sanitation
Egypt is facing a crisis in the water and sanitation sector. In April 2017, the Minister of Housing explained that the sanitation coverage rate reached 56% nationwide, but the percentage is divided into 83% in urban areas, while only 15% was covered in villages with sanitation, which is a percentage. It reveals a major disaster, as most villages that are not connected to sanitation suffer from poor infrastructure and mixing of drinking water with wastewater, which explains the spread of several epidemic diseases, chiefly hepatitis and kidney failure, as well as cancer among many groups of people, especially within villages, Providing safe drinking water is closely related to providing safe drainage to prevent mixing, and although Egypt has obtained many loans for upgrading this system due to it being the main reason behind the health and environmental crises in Egypt, completely ending the problem requires a lot of time and a lot of money. .
Labor and worker conditions
Citizens are generally affected by the economic reform measures, but the category of workers and pensioners are more affected by the crisis as a result of weak wages and their failure to keep pace with successive waves of high prices of food commodities and petroleum products, which in turn affected transportation, transportation and services, as well as the rise in electricity and water prices, as well as the exploitation of companies The private sector raised these measures and raised the prices of services and other products in order to avoid losses or reduce the percentage of their profits, which ultimately led to the ordinary citizen bearing all these crises. The government's efforts in the past period were highlighted by providing a monthly pension to the poorest citizens under the name of “Takaful and Dignity” pension, as this pension covers a number of one million and 700 thousand families, equal to more than 8 million citizens, according to the statements of the Ministry of Solidarity in May 2017, as well as increasing insurance pensions With a rate of 15% serving 10 million citizens, approving a periodic bonus for those addressing the civil service law at a value of 7%, and approving an exceptional cost premium of 7%. These decisions are part of the easing of economic reform measures.
On the other hand, it increased in the last period Labor protests and strikes From work because of wages and the disappearance of bonuses in many factories and some companies, and despite the difficult conditions in which workers live, their vigils were met with severe attacks, which resulted in the intervention of the security forces, and even the issuance of court rulings against the workers that ignited the anger of the workers and raised the concerns of some The other matter, which ultimately led to Egypt being placed on the blacklist of the International Labor Organization, due to government practices against workers, as well as the violation of the current trade union law and the government's draft trade union law of Convention 87 on the right to organize, which stipulates the right of workers to organize themselves, This indicates that the workers file faces many challenges, the most prominent of which is adherence to international standards, as well as amending local legislation to ensure better rights for workers
The impact of economic and social conditions on the presidential elections
Economic and social conditions are one of the main files for the upcoming presidential elections, due to their direct impact on the citizens, namely the voters, that is, those controlling the entire course of the electoral process. These conditions may affect the course of the elections themselves through several points, namely:
First, the impact of economic and social conditions on the candidates' programs
Given the importance and direct influence of this situation on citizens, it is likely that presidential candidates or some of them will exploit these situations in their favor, as it is a successful card in gaining support, for example the candidate adopts the workers ’cause and defends their rights in order to gain the support of the workers And, the candidate will not only win the support of the group who demanded their rights, but his image will appear in front of all workers who will see that he is a defender of the whole cause, and thus he can obtain the support of the largest number of workers, and so on for the rest of the issues of health, education, high prices, pensions and other influential issues. Directly on the economic and social conditions of citizens
Second, could these situations be exploited against a particular candidate?
To answer this question, two points must be addressed, the first of which is that one of the presidential candidates is the current head of the state, and therefore it is possible for his competing candidates to highlight only the negatives related to these conditions in order to weaken the competitor's image before the citizens, and to show the extent of this candidate’s failure in managing Those files and thus he adopts solutions that cover the negatives of his opponent, who will lose a number of his supporters, and he will also win a number of supporters.
The second point relates to the position of one of the candidates towards one of the cases, or the presence of recorded statements condemning the candidate in a case, for example the case of the people of paper that occupied public opinion last July, it can be used twice, the first time to distort the image of the current president, considering that the orders to evacuate the island were in His reign and I know that it happened, the second thing is condemnation, so a candidate may have made statements during this crisis expressing his disregard for the demands of the people of the island or his support for the government's decision without looking at the conditions of the people, and when he is nominated he will not refer to his previous statements, which he knows well will be against him. His rival candidates re-publish those statements and opinions in order to weaken his image in front of his supporters. Thus, it can be said that the file of the economic and social conditions is filled with many important issues in which each case can affect gaining or losing popular support towards a particular candidate.
Third, the impact of economic and social conditions on participation in the presidential elections
The economic and social conditions mainly affect participation in the presidential elections, whether through candidacy or through the participation of citizens in casting their electoral votes. Bad conditions represent an obstacle and a challenge to those who want to run for president, as those who intend to run feel that what previous presidents left behind is a burden. A heavy burden on their shoulders and that there are difficulties they will not bear, and therefore they feel that in the event of failure in managing these situations, they will be blamed by the people who will not accept excuses and will see nothing but negligence, which reflects the reluctance of many public figures to participate in the presidential elections, despite From their political and economic experiences, given that all the situations in Egypt require hard work, and reform will not take place easily and smoothly, but rather after hard and long work, and the reluctance to participate may take some time. The more participation in the elections, the more democracy there will be. Likewise, the more stable the situation, especially the economic and social, the greater the participation in the candidacy.
The participation of citizens in elections in general is determined by a set of indicators, starting with the democratic environment and the freedom to express opinion, passing through the economic and social conditions, so the better the conditions, the greater the participation, and the worse the living and economic conditions of the citizens, the less the desire to vote and the boycott increases, due to the absence of hope In change and frustration due to multiple crises.
Despite the great importance of the economic and social conditions that reflect the condition of citizens in general, dealing with these situations with a degree of importance increases with the approaching presidential elections, given their impact on the course of the electoral process, so it can be used on the one hand as a pressure card on a candidate to weaken his popularity, and it can also be used as a card The economic and social situation is one of the issues that affect the citizens' lives most, and which concern them more than politics does, so the more living conditions improve, the quality of education increases, the health sector develops, wages improve, and workers obtain the highest amount of rights, then political awareness increases and increases It also includes the rates of participation in the elections in form and content.
The economic and social conditions in Egypt so far carry with them many issues that directly affect citizens, and these conditions are raging in light of the implementation of the economic reform plan and the negative effects it caused on the living conditions of Egyptians, especially the working class, so it is likely that the These issues are on the candidates' programs for the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled to be held in 2018.