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We Are All Wasatiyyun: The Shifting Sands of Center Positioning in Egypt’s Early Post-Revolutionary Party Politics

Authors: Hendrik Kraetzschmar & Barbara Zollner

Affiliation: University of Leeds, Independent Scholar

Organization/Publisher: Middle East Critique Journal

Date/Place: February 24, 2020/ U.K.

Type of Literature: Research Article

Number of Pages: 21


Keywords: Centrism, Egypt, Political parties, Political rhetoric


This research article provides a new approach to understanding the concept of “wasatiyya” –or centrism—in Egyptian party politics. The authors claim that the politics of the political parties in Egypt cannot be examined merely by the study of party manifestos or expert surveys, but rather should be explained through a “contextual analysis” of an elite rhetoric regarding this concept or other ideological positions. The research is based on primary data collected in “two rounds of interviews” with the same group of party officials at different points of time, between June and November 2013. The authors argue that wasatiyya (centrism) or center concept, has multiple faces and explanations based on the context and the analysis of elite rhetoric. To explain this, the article goes beyond the religious meaning or definition of wasatiyya, discussing it from a broad Egyptian public discourse. Accordingly, the analysis utilizes three contextual frames including religious, economic, and procedural articulations of centrism. The authors conclude that although party officials claimed to be centrist, they articulated the word “wasati” in different perspectives. In other words, political parties’ officials inclined themselves to the word “wasatiyya” while there were variant interpretations of what this “wasatiyya” meant.


By: Yomna Süleyman, CIGA Research Assistant




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