Egypt awaited election results yesterday set to confirm the Muslim Brotherhood as the main civilian force that will shape the post-revolution transition from military rule of the most populous Arab nation.
The moderate Islamist movement, banned for decades under former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, has emerged from the shadows since the fall of the autocrat in February and has forecast its Freedom and Justice Party will take at least 40 percent of the vote.
On Monday and Tuesday, millions of Egyptians embraced their new democratic freedoms in the capital Cairo and second-city Alexandria for the first phase of multi-stage parliamentary elections.
Publication of the results for the areas that voted — only a third of constituencies — was expected later last night.
“The Brotherhood beats the drums of victory,” headlined the independent daily al-Shorouk.
The figures give the first indication of the balance of power between hardline Islamists and secular liberals in the new parliament.
Analysts warn against reading too much into only the first stage of a parliamentary election that will last until March, but the results will reveal the political trends in a country that has not had a free vote in 60 years.
Last week, 42 people were killed and more than 3,000 injured in violent protests against the interim military regime that took power after the fall of Mubarak.
Many fear the military will prove unwilling to fully hand over power to the new civilian leaders.
The military’s new choice as caretaker prime minister, 78-year-old Mubarak-era politician Kamal al-Ganzuri, is set to name his Cabinet this week, probably today, press reports said.
The Brotherhood, once linked to political assassinations, but now seen as a moderate force, has said it expects to be asked to form a new interim government if it emerges as the biggest bloc in parliament.
“This is an excellent chance to test the group,” said Rabab al-Mahdi, a professor of political science at the American University in Cairo.
“For years they have been making claims — such as the fact that freedom and religion can be compatible — without being held accountable,” she said.