June 19, 2013
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood lead the run offs
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood won a majority of run-off contests in the first round of a parliamentary election, the electoral commission said on Wednesday, consolidating its position as clear front-runners in the historic ballot.
However, turnout fell sharply in this week's polls, with just 39 percent of the electorate voting against 52 percent in initial polling last month, indicating possible disillusionment in some quarters over an early strong showing by Islamists.
The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) won 24 of 44 seats awarded, while its allies took another four. The count for eight other seats was suspended pending legal challenges, but the FJP has said it expects to win six of them.
By contrast, the ultra-conservative Salafi al-Nour party won just four seats in the run-offs it contested, while a second Salafi group won another two seats.
The remaining seats were shared out mainly amongst various liberal groups and independents.
The FJP had won 37 percent of the vote in the initial phase of proportional representation balloting, when Egyptians had to select from myriad party lists. The Salafis surprised many by coming a strong second, taking 24 percent of that vote.
Analysts said liberal voters seemed to have thrown their weight behind the more moderate FJP in the 24 run-off contests, where they went head-to-head with al-Nour.
The multi-tiered election, the first free ballot in Egypt for decades and which followed the downfall of former president Hosni Mubarak in February, will not be completed until the middle of January as other areas of Egypt get to vote.