Egypt's Islamists dominate new parliament

Muslim Brotherhood's FJP wins 38% of seats in Egypt's freely-elected parliament; hardline Islamist Al-Nour Party wins 29% of seats.

By REUTERS
January 21, 2012 17:32
3 minute read.
FJP, Egypt

freedom and justice party, Egypt_311. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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CAIRO - The Muslim Brotherhood won by far the biggest share of seats allocated to party lists in Egypt's first freely-elected parliament in decades, final results confirmed, and it named one of its top officials to lead the assembly.

Banned under former leader Hosni Mubarak and his predecessors, the Brotherhood has emerged as the winner from his overthrow. Islamists of various stripes have taken about two thirds of seats in the assembly, broadly in line with their own forecasts.

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The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has promised that all Egyptians will have a voice in the new parliament, but Islamists are now set to wield major influence over a new constitution to be drafted by a 100-strong body that parliament will help pick.

According to final results of the staggered election issued by the High Elections Committee on Saturday, the Brotherhood's electoral alliance took a 38 percent share of the seats allocated to lists.

The hardline Islamist Al-Nour Party won 29 percent of list seats. The liberal New Wafd and Egyptian Bloc coalition came third and fourth respectively.

The Revolution Continues coalition, dominated by youth groups at the forefront of the protests that toppled Mubarak, attracted less than a million votes and took just seven of the 498 seats up for grabs in the lower house.



Under a complex electoral system, two thirds or 332 of the seats in lower house are decided by proportional representation on closed party lists. The other third are contested by individual candidates.

The elections committee did not give results for individual seats, although the FJP's alliance has said it expects to take 41 percent of all seats in the lower house.

Freedom and Justice Party chooses assembly speaker

Having secured the biggest bloc, the FJP named Saad al-Katatni, a leading Brotherhood official who sat in the old parliament as an independent, as speaker of the assembly.

While the strong Islamist performance has alarmed liberal Egyptians and Western governments who had close ties to Mubarak, it is unclear if rival Islamists will team up in the assembly.

The FJP congratulated Katatni on his new role, voicing its "confidence that Katatni will be at the same distance from all representatives, either those of the FJP or other parties".

This would "uphold the principle of democracy and consolidate the rules of political participation", the party said in a statement.

The rise of the Islamists in Egypt's first election since Mubarak's overthrow in February last year marks a monumental shift from the past when parliament was a compliant body stuffed with members of his National Democratic Party and the Muslim Brotherhood was officially banned but tolerated.

The arrival of a new generation of politicians with a genuine popular mandate suggests parliament will seek to temper the power of the ruling military council, which has pledged to step aside at the end of June.

Katatni, who sat on the Brotherhood's policy committee, told Reuters the new assembly would be "reconciliatory".

"The priorities are meeting the demands of the revolution, including the rights of the injured and those killed in the uprising," he said.

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