Egypt’s Islamists win parliamentary elections
Egypt’s Islamists led by the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood clinched two thirds of seats in parliament in historic polls after the ouster of strongman Hosni Mubarak, official results showed on Saturday.
The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) won 235 seats in the new People’s Assembly, or 47.18 percent, electoral committee head Abdel Moez Ibrahim told a news conference, giving the final results from marathon polls.
The FJP secured 127 seats on party lists and its candidates won another 108 in first-past-the-post constituency votes.
The ultra-conservative Salafist Al-Nur party came second with 121 seats or 24.29 percent, and the liberal Wafd Party was third with nearly nine percent.
The liberal Egyptian Bloc — which includes the Free Egyptians party of telecoms magnate Naguib Sawiris who is facing trial on allegations of insulting Islam — came fourth with around seven percent.
The landmark election was the first since Mubarak’s overthrow last February. It began in November and was carried out in three stages.
The People’s Assembly, or lower house, is made up of 498 elected MPs and 10 appointed by the ruling military which took over after Mubarak quit last February 11. It will hold its first session on Monday.
“The train of democracy has entered the station and elected the first People’s Assembly since the January 25 revolution,” Ibrahim said.
In Egypt’s complex electoral system, voters cast ballots for party list candidates to make up two thirds of parliament, and direct votes for individual candidates for the remaining third.
Elections for parliament’s upper house, the Shura Council, are to begin later this month and conclude in February. Then the two chambers will choose a 100-member panel to draft a new constitution.
A new president will then be elected by June under the timetable set by the military rulers who announced that candidates can register for the presidency from April 15.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has pledged to transfer power to civilian rule after a new president is elected but there is a widespread belief the SCAF will not do so.
The Brotherhood, Egypt’s best organised political movement, had been widely expected to triumph in the polls through the FJP.
But the surge by Al-Nur and the high visibility of Salafi movements have raised fears among increasingly marginalised liberals about civil liberties and religious freedom.
The Brotherhood has repeatedly tried to reached out to Egyptians, particularly liberal parties.
Supreme guide Mohammed Badie said on Egyptian television late Friday that “the People’s Assembly alone will reflect the people to achieve their needs and safeguard their rights.”
He also warned the military it would account for any violations and that parliament will be empowered to decide its budget.
“The elected parliament has the right to take to account all state institutions, including the military institution,” Badie told the private Dream network, according to remarks published by the Brotherhood’s website.
“Parliament has the power to decide the budget of the military institutions through the establishment of a special committee tasked with doing that, and aimed at protecting Egypt and its borders,” he added.
The military has been the backbone of Egyptian politics ever since the fall of the monarchy in 1952, and every president since has emerged from the top ranks of the armed forces.
Badie said, however, that the army’s prestige “should not be undermined” and urged Egyptians to unite and join in the grandiose celebrations being prepared by the military rulers to celebrate the revolution’s first anniversary.
“We would like Egypt to stand as one on the day of the celebration (of the revolution) in order to protect the blood of the martyrs and confront the enemies of the revolution.”
But youth groups who were the driving force behind the protests that toppled Mubarak and his regime said they will not join in the festivities because their demands for reform have not been met.
A statement from the April 6 movement said their demands for social justice, freedom of expression and “to restore the dignity of the Egyptian people” have still not been met and corruption still prevails.
“We will take to the streets on January 25 to pursue the goals of the revolution, not to celebrate as some wish,” the statement added.
Protests are also due on Monday when the People’s Assembly holds its first session.