Egypt: Mubarak's authoritarian capitalism (1981-2011)

Updated January 2012

Hosni Mubarak took office on 15 October 1981, following the assassination of President Sadat, amid extremely difficult political circumstances. His goal was to restore stability to the country following the mounting tension during the last days of Sadat's era through measures such as the release of political detainees, allowing the publication of some newspapers again and easing restrictions on party activities.

From 1981 to 2011 the political landscape was largely dominated by President Hosni Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). During this period, the polity was largely characterised by a lack of freedom, political opponents' harassment and controlled semi-competitive elections (see People's Assembly elections 1979-2010). During the Mubarak regime, the number of political parties in Egypt increased to 24. During this period as well, Law No 40 on Political Parties System was amended to prohibit the formation of parties along religious lines. The law was also amended to allow parties that had been in existence for five years prior to the 2005 elections and had at least 3% of their members elected into the PA and SC to contest in the 2005 presidential elections (see Presidential election system in 2005). Much as these reforms opened up the political space, they did not create a framework for the conduct of truly competitive elections, because the laws still favoured of the ruling party through its onerous requirements. Mubarak remained in power from 1981, until his resignation on 11 February 2011 following an intense campaign of civil resistance.