Egyptians vote in elections 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Egypt’s third and final round of parliamentary voting began Tuesday, with
Islamists trying to dominate an assembly that will rival the clout of the ruling
The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has faced
anger over its handling of protests that left 17 people dead in Cairo last
month. An economic crisis has made it harder to meet the aspirations of citizens
yearning for a better life since the overthrow of president Hosni
IDF fears border attacks after Egypt elections
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) led
after the first two rounds, and the strong showing by Islamist movements has
sown unease among Western powers. The concluding vote to parliament’s lower
house takes in regions of the rural south, which has the largest proportions of
Christian voters, the Nile Delta region north of the capital Cairo and the
restive Sinai desert region to the east.
But Khaled Elgindy, a visiting
fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, said
third-round results would not likely have an appreciable effect on Islamist
parties’ domination of parliamentary voting.
“Whether it’s 70 or 80
percent, it’ll be a substantial majority – I think the Brotherhood may end up
with a simple majority of its own,” Elgindy told The Jerusalem Post. “The focus
of almost everyone outside of the SCAF is how to get the military back to the
barracks. There’s a general agreement that the military needs to go, but a lot
of disagreement about how that might happen.
The onus will be on the
Brotherhood and the parliament to come up with a plan.”
As the election
process pushes forward, Egypt’s economic woes continue to mount. A Gallup poll
released Tuesday shows only half of Egyptians reporting a satisfactory standard
of living on their current income, down from 77% in August. The percentage of
respondents expecting a fair and honest election also dropped to 75%, from 91%
On the ground Tuesday in the Delta cities of Mahalla and
Mansoura, streets were dotted with the posters of parties, especially the
Brotherhood and hardline Islamist al-Nour party, promising an end to
“I have chosen to vote for the Freedom and Justice Party as I
like its talk and I think it has a long history and experience and I think they
will help us the most,” said a smiling middle-aged woman from
Brotherhood banners in Mahalla carried its motto “Islam is the
solution” alongside its FJP party logo, in defiance of a ban on religious
slogans. In Minya in the rural south, some campaign banners carried verses from
Flyers for al-Nour carried names of influential families who
had lent their support. The party drew on the grass-roots influence of the
Salafi clerics who had founded it to take second spot in the first voting
Monitors praised the first two rounds as relatively free of
irregularities, while noting that many parties had defied a ban on campaigning
outside polling stations in election day. But police raids on pro-democracy and
rights groups last week have disrupted the work of leading Westernbacked
election monitors and drawn accusations that the army was deliberately trying to
weaken oversight of the vote and silence opponents.
The government said
the raids were part of an investigation into illegal foreign funding of
political parties and not aimed at weakening rights groups, which have been
among the fiercest critics of the army’s rule.
The United States called
on Egyptian authorities to halt “harassment” of the groups involved. Egypt’s
government said some of the groups had no permits to operate in the
The US-funded International Republican Institute said it was
invited by Egypt’s government to monitor the election and gave no funding to
parties or civic groups. It urged the government to let staff return to their
offices and obtain the official permits they had long requested and said there
was no reason to stop it monitoring the vote.
Another US-backed group,
the National Democratic Institute (NDI), said it was pressing ahead with
monitoring even though police had not returned equipment, documents and money
they seized without providing a warrant or an inventory.
“NDI hopes that
the confiscated items will be returned promptly,” it said, so the group can
“resume a constructive dialogue with the appropriate authorities about its work
and legitimate efforts to support the democratic process in
Fourteen million eligible voters in nine regions were choosing
who occupies 150 of the seats in parliament. The staggered lowerhouse election
concludes with a run-off vote on January 10 and 11, with final results expected
on January 13.