Freedom in the World
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Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Egypt received a downward trend arrow due to extensive restrictions on opposition candidates and reform advocates during the 2010 parliamentary elections, as well as a widespread crackdown on the media that resulted in increased self-censorship.
The ruling National Democratic Party won a sweeping victory in November 2010 elections for the lower house of parliament, amid allegations of widespread fraud, violent repression, and severe restrictions on opposition candidates. The authorities pursued a media crackdown throughout the year, closing independent outlets and subjecting journalists and bloggers to physical attacks and arbitrary arrests. High-profile cases of police brutality reflected a growing disregard for the rule of law among state security services.
Egypt is not an electoral democracy. The political system is designed to ensure solid majorities for the ruling NDP at all levels of government. Constitutional amendments passed in 2007 banned religion-based political parties, ensuring the continued suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood, a nonviolent Islamist group that represents the most organized opposition to the government. President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981, serves six-year terms and appoints the cabinet and all 26 provincial governors. The first multicandidate popular election for the presidency was held in 2005, and Mubarak’s main challenger, Ayman Nour, was jailed on dubious charges soon after the vote. It was unclear in 2010 whether Mubarak, who was rumored to be ill, would run in the 2011 presidential election, or would instead be replaced by his son Gamal or another NDP stalwart. This uncertainty was the source of great tension within the party and among the Egyptian public, and it reportedly fueled the government’s tightening of restrictions on political rights and civil liberties during the year.