Dec 052011

The preliminary results are in from the elections in Egypt:

  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party got 36.6%.
  • The conservative Nour Party took 24.4%.
  • The liberal Egyptian Block received 13.4%.
  • The Wafd Party (also liberal) received 7.1%.
  • The moderate Islamist Wasat or Centrist Party gained 4.3% of the votes.
Tahrir Square Street Vendor

Tahrir Square Street Vendor

AlJazerra summarizes the preliminary results:

“The conflict will be over the soul of Egypt,” said Nabil Abdel-Fattah, a senior researcher at the state-sponsored Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, calling the new parliament “transitional” with a “very conservative Islamic” outlook.

The Brotherhood has emerged as the most organised and cohesive political force in these elections. But with no track record of governing, it is not yet clear how they will behave in power.

The Freedom and Justice Party has positioned itself as a moderate Islamist party that wants to implement Islamic law without sacrificing personal freedoms, and has said it will not seek an alliance with the more radical Nour Party.

The ultraconservative Salafis who dominate the Nour Party are newcomers to the political scene. They had previously frowned upon involvement in politics and shunned elections.

They espouse a strict interpretation of Islam similar to that of Saudi Arabia. Its members say laws contradicting religion cannot be passed.

Egypt already uses Islamic law, or Sharia, as the basis for legislation. However, laws remain largely secular as Sharia does not cover all aspects of modern life.

If the Freedom and Justice Party chooses not to form an alliance with the Salafis, the liberal Egyptian Bloc – which came in third with 13.4 per cent of the votes – could counterbalance hard-line elements. 

This is only the first round of voting and the system for selecting the panel that will draft a new constitution is complex. It is a beginning – an historic one – but the beginning of a struggle that as Abdel-Fattah said, will be over the soul of Egypt.

One puzzling side note from Reuters – there was a “counting error” in the turnout for the election:

The head of the election committee, Abdul Moez Ibrahim, had put the turnout in last week’s voting at 62 percent, but on Monday he told a news conference the figure had been revised to 52 percent, blaming a counting error.

Acceptable, perhaps, as long as there’s no counting errors in the actual results.

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