In the recent referendum, Egypt’s new constitution was approved by almost 64% of voters. Only some 16 million out of 50 million eligible voters (approximately 30%) participated, of which some 10 million voted yes and some 6 million voted no. The approval of the constitution, however predictable, was a defeat for the Egyptian opposition, represented by the National Salvation Front (headed by Mohamed ElBaradei, Hamdin Sabahi, and ‘Amr Moussa), which had called on the Egyptian public to vote against it.
However, though disappointed by the results, Egyptian opposition circles also see them as a substantial achievement indicating the opposition’s potential for success. Moreover, they claim that widespread violations and fraud prevented an even bigger achievement for the opposition, and, in fact, invalidate the referendum. Accordingly, the National Salvation Front, the Egyptian Judges Club and civil society organizations have filed lawsuits demanding to revoke the results. At the same time, the opposition is also attempting to draw conclusions and prepare for the next campaign – namely the campaign for the People’s Assembly (the lower house of parliament).
Ahead of the referendum, some of the opposition forces united to form the National Salvation Front, but this body was plagued by disagreements and was hesitant and disorganized in its campaign compared to the Islamic forces. Hence, it was unable to recruit widespread popular support as they did. Since the results were published, oppositionist activists and writers have admitted that the failure was due to their camp’s disunity and its ineffective information efforts. Some writers in the Egyptian press also mentioned that, in the previous elections to the People’s Assembly in May 2012, the opposition had likewise failed to unite, which had given an edge to the Islamic camp. They called on the opposition to learn from past mistakes, draw conclusions, overcome internal disagreements, and come better prepared to the next and most crucial campaign – the elections to the new People’s Assembly, which are a few months away.