The decision of Egypt's main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front (NSF), to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections might just serve the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists, political observers said.
The NSF, an umbrella group that includes more than 30 parties and political movements, announced Tuesday at a press conference that it decided to boycott the elections scheduled to kick off on April 22.
"We cannot run for parliamentary elections without a fair election law and an unbiased government," said Sameh Ashour, leading NSF member and head of Lawyers Syndicate.
Ammar Ali Hassan, head of the Middle East Center for political studies, said that "Boycotting won't prevent the elections from running, so the NSF should work in the streets to persuade the people not to vote." If the turnout in the upcoming election is weak, then the parliament would not be able to represent the public.
Talat Romeih, expert on the Islamic affairs and editor-in-chief of Strategies Magazine, considered the NSF's decision as a " political mistake," for it would only "leave the floor to the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists."
"All previous boycott decisions by the NSF didn't work... In fact, the opposition extends a great service to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic forces by making the elections free of rivals," Romeih said.
On the other hand, the Nour Party, Salafists' political arm, announced that they would join in the elections despite recent conflicts with the Muslim Brotherhood, as President Mohamed Morsi sacked one of his assistant affiliated with the Nour Party.
Hassan said the Salafists will benefit from the opposition's boycotting more than the Muslim Brotherhood which "is losing its popularity day by day."
"I believe that the Nour Party is trying to play the role of opposition recently," Hassan said.
Romeih considered Salafists as the only foe for the Muslim Brotherhood in the parliamentary elections, predicting that the Salafists would win more seats than the latter.
"The Muslim Brotherhood lost much popularity recently. The Salafists will obtain the votes of those who are against the Muslim Brotherhood and those of Islamic tendencies," said Romeih.
Mohamed El-Baradei, leading figure of Egypt's main opposition group National Salvation Front and also head of al-Dostour Party, said Wednesday that the NSF "is currently drafting a plan to effectuate the boycott and to demonstrate alternatives."
"We won't deceive the people by taking part in a forged democracy whatever the internal and external pressures are," Baradei said on his twitter account.
According to Gamal Zahran, political studies professor with Suez Canal University, one of the alternatives that should be put on the opposition's political plan is forming a "parallel parliament," referring to the precedent when some Egyptian opposing figures formed a parallel parliament after the dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP) dominated the majority of seats in the parliamentary elections of 2010.
Gamal Zahran, political studies professor in Suez Canal University, said that the NSF should form a "parallel parliament" and a "parallel government," and write a "parallel constitution."
The upcoming elections will take place in four stages and last for three months. The first stage of voting will be held in five provinces including Cairo, Beheira, Port Said, North Sinai and el- Minya on April 22-23, with a run-off scheduled for April 29-30.
The second stage will be held in eight governorates including el Giza, Alexandria, Sohag, Beni Suef, Aswan, Suez, Red Sea and New Valley on May 11-12, with a run-off on May 19-20. The third stage will include also eight governorates: Daqahliya, Qalyubiya, Minufiya, Qina, Damietta, Luxor, Matruh and South Sinai. It will start on May 28-29 and its run-off will be on June 5-6.
The final stage will be held on June 15-16 with a run-off on June 23-24 in six governorates: Gharbiya, Sharqiya, Asyut, Kafr-el- sheikh, Faiyum and Ismailia.
The first session of the new parliament is scheduled to be held on July 2.