The metamorphosis of Egypt’s political scene can be characterized by two important events: the entangled knot of pluralism, violent and vigorous, tightening into the uprising of 2011, to the unraveling of those threads into a complicated web of marginalized secular and Islamist groups who had won previously. Two forms of nationalism crawl deep under the carpet of Egypt’s complicated political scenario: From the all-inclusive strain prominent during the 2011 uprising to the militaristic form of nationalism revealing itself after President Mohammed Morsi’s removal in 2013.

To dissect the evolution of Egyptian nationalism, it is important to comprehend its transformation over the years. From the clearly defined Arab and Muslim identity in 1930s, to the one with visible signs of anti-imperialism post 1952 Free Officers Movement that abolished monarchy and later brought Gamal Abdel Nasser in the center stage of Egypt’s political theatre. The essence of nationalism, that united everyone, was captured by Nasser in a way that neither Anwar Sadat nor Hosni Mubarak could grasp.

One of the aims of the January 2011 revolution was the revival of nationalism, but this homogenous uprising quickly split into thin tiny fragments of political turmoil that followed Mubarak’s removal. The most important difference between then and now is the partitioning of dominant Islamist parties, weakening their ability to garner any support from the public. This situation, coupled with the imprisonment/harassment of prominent opinion leaders presents an environment where freedom of expression is crushed under the weight of power. The April 6 movement that was an important force behind the 2011 uprising was banned in April 2014 on accusations of reconnaissance. Strict rule enforcement has not been limited to Islamist parties but towards broadcast/print media and the Internet savvy elites ordered to shape up or ship out. A black picture of forced nationalism that is forced to be pro-Sisi emerges, covering the red spots of revolt.

Legally, the reforms introduced in 2014 have important implications for any parliament that is elected as it prioritizes independent candidates over political parties. Shocking the secular political parties that had supported the removal of Morsi, this reform is aimed at reducing their authority in political matters. In the present situation, if any independent candidate reveals their affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, they will face charges of prosecution or terrorism, a rule that was absent in the past.

Walking through the narrow alleys of restriction, the political life that had been conceived and amalgamated in 2011 has now finished abruptly. Whether the future parliamentary elections will be an echo of the past where the elections were notoriously corrupt and violent, remains to be seen. These elections will be an acid test for approximately 7000 candidates seeking parliamentary seats, embroiled in an intense competition. It is certain that due to this situation, the grievances amongst young revolutionaries and Islamists will increase but whether this resentment will be transferred into the broader public remains to be seen.

The mobilization of public support is essential for President Sisi to ensure “actual support” in contrast with the previous election where the narrative was shaped to depict a voter turnout of 97 percent where in reality the numbers were weak. Two interdependent factors obstruct the emergence of a new nationalist party in Egypt at present. Firstly, the cumulative rivalries between the different groups within nationalist circles such as the military and business community cannot be overcome due to divergent economic interests. Secondly, limited importance given to civilian politics by President Sisi present another hurdle towards coalescing nationalist camp.

Being positioned at a crossroads for significant sea and trading routes with easy access to Europe, Africa and near East, Egypt should have experienced higher levels of prosperity. However, despite being endowed with the ideal geographical location and access to the global markets, Egypt is far from economic prosperity. Overreliance on foreign revenue streams and foreign patronage undermines the country’s capacity to steer an independent path to future economic and political viability. The structural imbalance between the state and society and between the regime and civil society has chronically impaired the country’s ability to cater to the interests of the people.

In order to re-construct Nationalism in Egypt, the two foundations that must be repaired are order and economic growth. Egypt is in dire need of a strong economic policy that fosters social development and increases job opportunities and improved governance in the northern part of the Peninsula, neglected from the national vision of the country. Provision of social justice to the local population through policy reforms should be the central stratagem to unite Egyptians.