Egyptian Elections: 62 Percent Turnout : The Two-Way The country's first freely elected parliament is likely to be dominated by Islamist religious parties.
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Egyptian Elections: 62 Percent Turnout

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Egyptian Elections: 62 Percent Turnout

Egyptian Elections: 62 Percent Turnout

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Guy Raz. After days of delay, Egypt has released partial results from this week's parliamentary elections. There are still two more rounds of voting to go and that means the ultimate makeup of the parliament is far from clear.

But if current trends continue, the Muslim Brotherhood and an even more conservative Islamist party will make up a large part of the new legislative body.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro has our story from Cairo.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: The election results were broadcast live on state television.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign Language Spoken).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But if voters were tuning in to gain some clarity over which parties did well in the polls, they wouldn't have gotten it there. In a bizarre, truncated press conference, the head of the electoral commission, Abdel Moez Ibrahim, suddenly got into a confrontation with a journalist.

ABDEL MOEZ IBRAHIM: (Foreign Language Spoken).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Research your questions before you ask them, he demands. You are wasting our time. I don't have time. I have to work. I have to leave, he says. It's hard to know what better things he might have had to do under the circumstances, but he stormed off anyway, without finishing announcing the results.

It's yet another sign of the disarray brought on by Egypt's revolution and its steps towards democracy. This press conference had already been repeatedly delayed. The electoral commission said it had trouble dealing with the high voter turnout. It was a historic 62 percent.

But back to the results. This is what we know now. Trends indicate that Islamist parties did well, better than expected. The Muslim Brotherhood was banned for decades, but it used that time to develop deep roots in many communities, so it's no surprise it got a large chunk of the votes, says Michael Hanna, an Egypt analyst with the Century Foundation.

MICHAEL HANNA: They've been focused on organizing for many years and they can count on disciplined cadres to fulfill orders and to do political canvassing and to do political organization.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What has surprised many, though, is that the more hard lined Islamist party also did well. The party is called Noor, or light, and it was established by the arch-conservative Muslims known as Salafis. Hanna says the Muslim Brotherhood is a more centrist organization, but that could change.

HANNA: I do think there's a real possibility that the rise of the more conservative Salafis will have an effect of pulling the Brotherhood to the right, so I think that's a potentially problematic dynamic in this next stage.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: For now, the Brotherhood is talking consensus and coalition-building with Egypt's many diverse groups. Dr. Osama Asvin(ph) is the deputy secretary general of the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing.

OSAMA ASVIN: (Foreign Language Spoken).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Egypt needs cooperation between all of the political forces, he says. We all need to work for the greater good of Egypt. But there are worries, especially among Christians and some women about what an Islamist agenda may mean for the Middle East's most populous nation.

This first round of elections was a disappointment for the liberal groups that formed the backbone of the protests in Tahrir Square. Hali Mustafa is affiliated with the liberal Social Democrat Party.

HALI MUSTAFA: All the liberal group and parties are newly established. OK? And we didn't have time to gather support. We didn't have time to be organized, so I guess – no, it's not totally our fault. We have a little time to do a lot of things.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The next round of voting in Egypt takes place December 14th. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Cairo.

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