Egypt’s Islamists claim sweep of second round vote

December 21, 2011 by  
Filed under National, newsletter-asia

Second Round VoteEgypt, December 18, 2011: Egypt’s two leading Islamist parties said on Sunday their separate party lists secured about three-quarters of votes cast in the second round of a parliamentary election, extending their lead in the three-stage vote.

A source from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) said it was on track to win about 40 percent of votes for party lists, based on results from most districts.

A spokesman for the ultra-conservative Salafi al-Nour Party said its list received about 35 percent of votes.

In the first round of the six-week poll, the FJP won about 37 percent of votes for lists and Nour secured about 24 percent.

The poll is the first since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February. The West long looked to strongmen in the region like Mubarak to keep a lid on Islamists, and has watched warily as they have come top in votes in Tunisia, Morocco and now Egypt.

An official breakdown of results for the list vote has yet to be announced. But party representatives watch the count and their predictions after the first round were broadly accurate.

Despite their commanding position built up so far in the vote that runs till January, it is unclear whether the two rival Islamist groups will form an alliance in parliament, as they have each spoken warily of the other.

The leadership of the Brotherhood is cautious of a wholly Islamist ruling coalition, which Egyptians from other political trends might view as divisive and polarizing in a period when they think broader national unity is needed. Nour politicians accuse the Brotherhood of compromising Islamic values.

The FJP source said the 40 percent estimate was based on counting completed in 11 of the 15 second-round constituencies where seats will be allocated by party lists.

In a separate statement, the FJP said it was concerned the final result would be skewed against it, saying it had noted differences between its tally and official numbers. It did not specify how the counting may have been flawed.

Independent monitors have listed electoral abuses such as illegal campaigning outside polling stations. The first-round vote in one district of Cairo will be re-run after ballots were lost or damaged during counting.

The election committee has said violations did not undermine the vote’s overall legitimacy.

Under Egypt’s complicated election system, two-thirds of parliament’s 498 elected seats will be allocated to party lists with the rest going to individuals. In the second round, 60 individual seats were up for grabs.

Abdel Moez Ibrahim, head of the election committee, announced the results for individual seats in a news conference late on Sunday, saying only one person secured a seat outright.

Run-offs will be held for the other seats where no candidate secures more than 50 percent of the votes need for outright victory. Ibrahim did not announce results for party lists.

The FJP said on its Facebook page that 47 of its candidates would contest run-offs.

Yousry Hamad, a Nour spokesman, told Reuters before the committee made its announcement that its list had secured about 35 percent of votes for party lists and the party expected to contest 35 individual seats in the run-off votes.

Nour were the surprise runners up after the first round, pushing liberals into third place.

The election committee said turnout for voters who cast ballots for individuals was 67 percent.

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