Egypt's burgeoning liberal party meetings are drawing a sparse crowd
A meeting of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party / Thanassis Cambanis
SHIBIN EL KOM, Egypt -- It's not fair to judge a party solely by the size of the crowd it draws, but by that metric, Egypt's burgeoning liberal parties are in trouble. A batch of newly-formed liberal parties has skittered onto the scene, building organizations from scratch across the country. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood, drawing on 83 years of grassroots activism, has burst forth like a freshly established military field hospital.
Above is a picture of the crowd that gathered to celebrate the debut of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party in the Nile Delta town of Kafr el Sheikh earlier this month. The Social Democrats are the best organized and most ideologically coherent of the new liberal parties to emerge from the revolution. They have attracted some of the most driven and popular activists. Less than 200 people showed up for their meeting.
Crowd size doesn't tell the whole story, but it's one of the only measures we have. The liberals have a lot of catching up to do -- perhaps a prohibitive amount before this fall's parliamentary elections.