According to El-Ebaidy, the features of the new political map are best explained by the strong presence of new political forces in Matrouh represented in the religious Salafi trend, and the absence of forces which traditionally played an important role in rallying, i.e. tribal leaders.
Additionally, existing parties, be they the old ones or those formed after the revolution, exert a weak influence, while the role of the political elite and the educated such as the authors, poets, etc, has deteriorated as they are unable to shape the political atmosphere. Consequently, El-Ebaidy believes that the political scene in Matrouh faces one of three potential scenarios.
The first scenario sees religious currents growing to the point of consuming a majority of the seats in Matrouh with the strength, enthusiasm, and steadfastness of their supporters and their ability to rally crowds and propagate ideas. This scenario, which would encourage people to elect Nour Party candidates, would result in the Party winning at least two seats. The remaining two seats would then go to the top candidates on lists that capitalise on social and traditional connections, i.e. on the basis of tribal and familial forces. The most likely winners of these two remaining seats would be the Wafd Party followed by El-Wasat Party, because of the divisions which would break up the remaining votes.
The second scenario is where the tribal body senses the rug being pulled from under its feet as religious currents threaten the tribes' reach and political role. In this case, the tribal bodies – led by mayors, the elderly, and heads of families living in Matrouh – would collide visibly, and perhaps for the first time, with the Salafi trend, leading to a series of confrontations between the two parties. This would ultimately push votes towards candidates belonging to tribal bodies protecting social customs and traditions. In this case, the tribal body could win three out of the four party seats leaving the fourth seat for the Salafi trend represented by the Nour Party list.
The third scenario outlined by El-Ebaidy involves a surprise role played by the voters' political awareness together with the ability of the political elite and the strictly political parties to create a new breed of voters which would go to the voting boxes seeking to avoid a repeat scenario of the old era, with its good and bad and everything tied to it. This new class of voters avoid voting for the Salafi trend seeing that it possesses a private agenda, and a party like the Justice Party could secure decent results, given that it features young faces whose names have become tied to opposition political activity and who have had strong ties with the January 25 revolution.
Salafi affiliations may be stronger than tribal affiliations
Saeed Mostafa El-Omairy, ex-chairman of a local council, happens to lean more towards the first scenario. El-Omairy feels that Salafi affiliations are actually stronger than tribal affiliations, as seen in the latest events in Matrouh, where Salafis mobilised streets during protests opposing the supra-constitutional document by Dr. Ali El-Silmy. The Salafis were also able to control and contain the chaos following these protests in Matrouh. El-Omairy added that elections in Matrouh will mark the birth of a new body, the Salafi body. The tribal body will then collapse as the tribes' sons vote in favour of the Nour Party candidate and against their fellow tribesmen. El-Omairy notes that Salafis are capable of organising, rallying, and directing crowds in record time, as evident in conferences of Nour Party candidates' which generated a large turnout and participation, regardless of tribal affiliations, and in favour of Salafi Nour Party candidates, regardless of tribal associations.
"Elections bring their own winds," Mathrouh mayor Eid El-Sarhany said about potential outcome of the Matrouh elections. El-Sarhany would rather not give either side a heavier weight than the other. He explained that, because the tribes have connections which are considered the decisive factor in any election battle in Matrouh, the direction of the voting compass can only be determined at the moment of voting.
*Uncredited pictures provided by journalist.