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Islamist parties expected to maintain lead in Egypt's elections

The second round of voting in Egypt's first elections since the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak began on Monday, with Islamist parties expected to maintain their lead. Participation was estimated at 52%, down from 62% for last week's vote.


AP - Egyptians again headed to the polls Monday for two days of runoffs in their first parliamentary elections since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, a balloting in which Islamist parties already captured an overwhelming majority of the votes in the first round.

The runoffs are unlikely to change the Islamists’ gains, which have dealt a huge blow to liberals behind the uprising that toppled Mubarak 10 months ago.

The runoff races have fundamentalist Islamist candidates contesting each other and also secular candidates for the remainder of the 52 seats that were up for grabs in the first found. There are still two more rounds of voting staggered over the coming weeks.

According to results released on Sunday, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party garnered 36.6 percent of the 9.7 million valid ballots cast for party lists. The ultraconservative Salafists’ Al-Nour Party, a more hard-line Islamist group, captured 24.4 percent, while the secular Egyptian Bloc won 13.4 percent of the votes.

The ballots are a confusing mix of individual races and party lists, and Sunday’s results only reflect the party list performance for less than a third of the 498-seat parliament.
Waiting with hundreds of other women to cast her ballot Monday in an upper-class Cairo neighborhood, Sohair Qansouah says she is worried over the Islamists’ win because she doesn’t want Egypt to “go back 1,000 years.”

“I’m Muslim and we want freedom and tolerance for all, but if they (Islamists) come to power, there will be less freedom for all, especially women,” said Qansouah, 72, adding that a parliament dominated by Islamists will “mean that all the objectives of the revolution have failed.”

At the polls, the Monday morning turnout appeared lighter than during the first round a week ago, when turnout was around 60 percent - the highest in living memory as few participated in the heavily rigged votes under Mubarak.

The strong Islamist showing worries liberal parties, and even some religious parties, who fear the two groups will work to push a religious agenda. It has also left many of the youthful activists behind the uprising that ousted Mubarak in February feeling that their revolution has been hijacked.

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