Islamist parties big winners in Egypt
CAIRO – Final results on Saturday showed that Islamist parties won nearly three-quarters of the seats in parliament in Egypt’s first elections since the ouster of authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak, according to election officials and political groups.
In the vote for the lower house of parliament, a coalition led by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood won 47 percent, or 235 seats in the 498-seat parliament. The ultraconservative Al-Nour Party was second with 25 percent, or 125 seats.
The Salafi Al-Nour, which was initially the biggest surprise of the vote, wants to impose strict Islamic law in Egypt, while the more moderate Brotherhood, the country’s best-known and organized party, has said publicly that it does not seek to force its views about an appropriate Islamic lifestyle on Egyptians.
The two parties are unlikely to join forces because of ideological differences, but both have a long history of charity work in Egypt’s vast poverty-stricken neighborhoods and villages, giving them a degree of legitimacy and popularity across the country in areas where newer liberal parties have yet to get a foothold.
Muslim Brotherhood lawmaker Mohammed el-Beltagi said the new parliament represents “the wish of the Egyptian people.”
Egypt’s elections commission acknowledged that there were voting irregularities, but the vote has been hailed as the country’s freest and fairest in living memory.
The liberals who spearheaded the revolt that toppled Mubarak struggled to organize and connect with a broader public in the vote, and did not fare as well as the Islamists.
The Egyptian bloc, which is headed by a party founded by Christian telecom tycoon Naguib Sawiris, said it won 9 percent of the seats in parliament. Egypt’s oldest secular party, the Wafd, also won around 9 percent.
Newer parties, such as the liberal Revolution Continues Party won 2 percent, as did the Islamist Center Party, which had been banned from politics under Mubarak.