Islamists who swept to victory in the first stage of Egypt’s parliamentary elections were looking to extend their winning streak in a second round of voting yesterday.
About 18.8 million Egyptians are eligible to cast their ballots in the second round of the first legislative polls since a popular uprising ended former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule in February.
The powerful Muslim Brotherhood, which clinched the most seats in the opening phase through its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), was eager to sustain the momentum.
“For a strong parliament, which meets the demands, the concerns and the priorities of the people, let’s continue,” the party said on its official Facebook page.
Hundreds lined up outside polling stations in a third of Egypt’s provinces, where voting began at 8am.
At the Mohammed Qureib school in the working class Bahr al-Aatham neighborhood, soldiers were letting voters through five or six at a time.
A policeman admonished the voters not to campaign for candidates or talk about their preferences, but some were eager to explain why they were voting for the FJP.
“They have political experience and they are moderate,” said Abdel Halim, a government employee.
However, another voter said the Brotherhood would damage tourism.
“They’re going to ruin it and they’ll ban going to the beach,” the voter said.
Abdel Halim scorned him: “You want to sit on the beach. We want to work for our country,” highlighting a source of tension between Islamists and secularists.
The election’s first stage on Nov. 28 saw Islamist parties crush their liberal rivals, mirroring a pattern established in Tunisia and Morocco following a string of popular uprisings across the region.
Voters are required to cast three ballots: two for individual candidates and one for a party or coalition.
Parties affiliated with the Brotherhood and the ultra-conservative Salafi movements won 65 percent of all votes, trouncing liberal parties who managed 29.3 percent.
The second round takes place in Cairo’s twin city of Giza; Beni Sueif south of the capital; the Nile Delta provinces of Menufiya, Sharqiya and Beheira; the canal cities of Ismailiya and Suez; and the southern cities Sohag and Aswan.