Most people count the following parties as social democratic ones: the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Justice Party and Al Dostour Party. Other people describe them as liberal rather than social democratic, which is a description used for the Nasserite and Leftist parties. Other descriptions include secular, civil or even parties against a religious state. The expression “liberal” was also used to describe a civil democratic state and anyone against the Muslim Brotherhood. Many were annoyed at the number of existing “liberal” parties, saying that this division of the liberals is unjustified. This led to the leaders of those parties being accused of working for their own benefits instead of merging with other liberal parties.
However, it must be noted that the Muslim Brotherhood considered anyone against them civil and liberal, regardless of the movements to which they belong. It also must be noted that there are many similarities between the leftist and democratic parties, and that some right-wing parties cross paths with the liberal parties in any country in the world.
The social democratic parties can use this in their favour, enabling them to become the core of the political society, and this power can be harnessed by achieving some alliances or mergers. Yet, this can also work against them if the parties witness pressures from other leftist of right-wing parties, forcing them to divide.
It is often the case that liberals and social democrats are put in one category and nationalists and leftists in another category. This is usually due to the religious-civil polarisation, which part of the politically naive public dubbed as liberal-religious polarisation. Furthermore, some of the members and leaders of the parties do not quite understand the difference between liberal and social democratic parties. At times, these liberal leaders utter some fascist thoughts and visions, while some of the social democratic leaders adopt capitalist or neo-liberal concepts.
There are parties in Egypt that can be described as almost liberal, such as the Al-Wafd and Free Egyptians parties, and the Democratic Front. These parties are led by Al-Wafd due to its historic background, which cannot compare to any other civil party. Even though many see that assigning Al Sayed Al Badawy with the leadership of Al-Wafd compromised the party, it is still the most important and biggest liberal party in the scene. Therefore, it is possible for it to merge with some of the other parties on the condition that it refrains from changing its name. Conversely, the Free Egyptians party is a post-revolution one and considers Al-Wafd as belonging to Mubarak’s era. Due to the fact that the Free Egyptians Party was founded by Coptic businessman Naguib Sawiris, it is considered a very attractive political party for businessmen and the most capable of getting most of the Coptic votes.
Given Al-Wafd’s status, it is unlikely that it will be willing to make any compromises for the sake of alliances. Therefore, it will only be willing to include other parties on its electoral list; it will select these parties based on the previous parliamentary elections, keeping in mind that Al-Wafd Party obtained 41 seats on its own in the last elections. On the other hand, other liberal and revolutionary parties got the same number of seats combined. The Free Egyptians Party considers itself a revolutionary party and will not accept being eclipsed by Al-Wafd in the case of a merger.
As for the social democratic parties, the Justice Party has already merged with the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, and there might be a fruitful merger between them and the Al Dostour Party. The Egyptian Social Democratic Party sees that it is necessary to form an alliance with all parties of the movement, with the Al-Wafd and the Free Egyptians parties at its core. This needs a lot of effort, and if it is successful, it might be possible to achieve a merger between the Nasserites and leftists, not only to stand united against the political Islamists, but also all the other forces that are trying to rebuild the old police state.