Egyptian polls: Brotherhood leads Islamist surge

Egypt`s Islamists, including the liberal Brotherhood and radical Salafists, have surged ahead in the first round of parliamentary polls.

Last Updated: Dec 05, 2011, 00:51 AM IST

Cairo: Egypt`s Islamists, including the
liberal Brotherhood and radical Salafists, have surged ahead
in the first round of parliamentary polls, together pocketing
65 per cent of the vote and relegating the secular parties to
the periphery of the country`s new political landscape.

Muslim Brotherhood`s new Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)
received roughly 40 per cent of the vote and the main Salafist
Al-Nur party between 20 and 25 per cent, the state media
reported today.

The main liberal coalition, the Egyptian Bloc, won only 15
per cent of the vote, a development though not completely
unexpected, has somewhat alarmed the country`s minorities,
mainly the Coptic Christians who comprise an estimated 10 per
cent of the population.

Cairo: Egypt`s Islamists, including the
liberal Brotherhood and radical Salafists, have surged ahead
in the first round of parliamentary polls, together pocketing
65 per cent of the vote and relegating the secular parties to
the periphery of the country`s new political landscape.

Muslim Brotherhood`s new Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)
received roughly 40 per cent of the vote and the main Salafist
Al-Nur party between 20 and 25 per cent, the state media
reported today.

The main liberal coalition, the Egyptian Bloc, won only 15
per cent of the vote, a development though not completely
unexpected, has somewhat alarmed the country`s minorities,
mainly the Coptic Christians who comprise an estimated 10 per
cent of the population.

"Those who weren`t successful ... should work hard to
serve people to win their support next time," the Brotherhood
said.

Most candidates will have to go through to two further
rounds of voting over the next six weeks. The BBC described
the elections as "arguably the first fully free and fair
election in Egyptian history".

"This is the first chance to see the strength of the
Islamists, who look likely to win at least half of the seats
in the new parliament. There are two very different sets of
Islamists, and it is not at all certain that they will work
together," it said.

By contrast, the Salafists, who could take second place,
have made no bones about their hardline views. They have
indicated they want to ban alcohol, segregate men and women,
impose full shariah law.

The Salafists call for a return to the way Islam was
practised during the time of the Prophet Muhammad and his
companions, in the 7th Century.

The Brotherhood - which led the opposition to Hosni
Mubarak during his 30 years in power - was until this year
officially banned. In practice, it was tolerated as long as it
remained at the margins of politics.

Its rivals accused the FJP of handing out food and
medicine as a way of winning votes.

The voting on November 28 and 29 covered nine out of 27
provinces, which will elect about 30 per cent of the 498-seat
lower house of parliament.

Two further rounds are scheduled over the next six weeks.
The upper house will then be elected in another three stages.

PTI