Egypt Islamists claim second round of voting

Egypt’s two leading Islamist parties won about two-thirds of votes for party lists in the second round of polling for a Parliament that will help draft a new Constitution after decades of autocratic rule, the election committee said on Saturday.

The party list led by the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) won 36.3% of the list vote, while the ultra-conservative Salafi al-Nour Party took 28.8%, pushing the liberal Wafd party into third place.

The vote, staged over six weeks, is the first free election Egypt has held after the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak, who routinely rigged polls before he was overthrown by a popular uprising in February.

The West long looked to Mubarak and other strongmen in the region to help combat Islamist militants, and has watched warily as Islamist parties have topped votes in Tunisia, Morocco and now Egypt.

Parliament’s prime job will be appointing a 100-strong assembly to write a new Constitution which will define the president’s powers and Parliament’s clout in the new Egypt.

Second-round results for party lists gave the liberal Wafd Party 9.6% of the vote. The Egyptian Bloc of mostly liberal and leftist parties won 7% of the list vote.

Analysts say poor coordination among non-Islamist groups has divided the liberal vote, sometimes handing the majority to an Islamist by default.

Transition
The election, which began on November 28 and ends on January 11, has been marred by a flare-up of clashes in Cairo between police and protesters demanding an immediate end to military rule.

At least 17 people were killed in the protests, in which troops clubbed women and men even as they lay on the ground.

The ruling army council fuelled suspicions it wanted to hang on to power, even after a new president was elected, when its Cabinet last month proposed inserting articles in the new Constitution that would have shielded it from civilian scrutiny.

The army took over after Mubarak was ousted and remains in charge until a presidential election in mid-2012, but Parliament will have a popular mandate that the military lacks.

In the first round of the poll, the Brotherhood’s FJP won about 37% of list votes and Nour about 24%.

The complex electoral system gives two-thirds of the 498 elected seats to lists and the rest to individuals.

The FJP said it had won 40 of the 60 individual seats up for grabs in the second round, similar to its first-round showing. — Reuters

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