Egyptians in Cairo, Alexandria and seven other provinces began voting Monday, December 5, in run-offs for the first stage of an election that may give Islamist groups the dominant role in parliament, Bloomberg
reported. Partial results show the Muslim Brotherhood’s party secured 37 percent of valid ballots cast, followed by the Salafi Nour party with at least 24 percent, and the secular Egyptian Bloc with about 13 percent. While the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party is widely predicted to secure the largest share of seats in parliament, the early success of the ultraconservative Nour has surprised some election observers. “Most people underestimated the Salafis, it was a mistake to do so,” said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. Its share was “pretty high for a party that didn’t exist until a few months ago. That’s a very impressive achievement. If anything, you’d expect the Salafis to continue to gain in areas where liberals have less presence.” Egypt’s first elections since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak consist of two further rounds covering the country’s remaining 18 governorates.