Islamists Win 70% of Seats in the Egyptian Parliament
By David D. Kirkpatrick
The New York Times
January 21, 2012
CAIRO — Egyptian authorities confirmed Saturday that a political coalition dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, the 84-year-old group that virtually invented political Islam, had won about 47 percent of the seats in the first Parliament elected since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. An alliance of ultraconservative Islamists won the next largest share of seats, about 25 percent.
The military council leading Egypt since Mr. Mubarak lost power last February has said it will keep Parliament in a subordinate role with little real power until the ratification of a constitution and the election of a president, both scheduled for completion by the end of June.
But the council has assigned Parliament the authority to choose the 100 members of a constitutional assembly, so it may shape Egypt for decades to come, although the military council has sometimes tried to influence that process.
The election results were expected because of preliminary tallies after each of the three phases of the vote, but the confirmation comes in time for the seating of Parliament on Monday.
The tally, with the two groups of Islamists together winning about 70 percent of the seats, indicates the deep cultural conservatism of the Egyptian public, which is expressing its will through free and fair elections for the first time in more than six decades.
But the two groups have described very different visions and appear to be rivals rather than collaborators. The Brotherhood has said it intends to respect personal liberties and will focus on economic and social issues, gradually nudging the culture toward its conservative values. By contrast, the ultraconservatives, known as Salafis, put a higher priority on legislation on Islamic moral issues, like the consumption of alcohol, women’s dress and the contents of popular culture.
Among the remaining roughly 30 percent of parliamentary seats, the next largest share was won by the Wafd Party, a liberal party recognized under Mr. Mubarak and with roots dating to Egypt’s colonial period.
It was trailed by a coalition known as the Egyptian Bloc. It included the Free Egyptians, a business-friendly liberal party founded by a Coptic Christian businessman, Naguib Sawiris, and favored by many members of the country’s Coptic Christian minority, about 10 percent of the public. The Egyptian Bloc also included the liberal Social Democratic Party, which leans further to the left on economic issues.
A coalition of parties founded by the young leaders of the revolt that unseated Mr. Mubarak won only a few percent of the seats, as did a handful of offshoots of the former governing party.