Egyptians head to polls for runoffs
05 December 2011, 16:55
Cairo - A trickle of Egyptian voters headed to the
polls on Monday for two days of runoffs in the country's first
parliamentary elections since Hosni Mubarak was ousted, a balloting in
which Islamist parties already captured an overwhelming majority of the
votes in the first round.
Turnout in the morning appeared to be
lower than expected, and the trickle of voters at some polling stations
was a sharp contrast to the massive lines during the first round a week
ago, when the turnout was nearly 60% - the highest in Egypt's modern
Architect Hala Shaker, 39, said she thought the low
turnout on Monday was "scary," since small voter numbers could serve the
Islamists in her constituency, where runoffs were between Islamists and
"We don't want people with strict ideology
who will force their views," she said. "We're Muslims but we don't want
these people telling us how to practice our religion."
runoffs are unlikely to change the Islamists' gains, which have dealt a
huge blow to liberals behind the uprising that toppled Mubarak 10
According to results released on Sunday, the Muslim
Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party garnered 36.6% of the 9.7
million valid ballots cast for party lists. The ultraconservative
Salafists' Al-Nour Party, a more hard-line Islamist group, captured
24.4%, while the secular Egyptian Bloc won 13.4% of the votes.
Monday races have fundamentalist Islamist candidates contesting each
other and also secular candidates for the remainder of the 52 seats that
were up for grabs in the first found.
Waiting with hundreds of
other women to cast her ballot Monday in an upper-class Cairo
neighbourhood, Sohair Qansouah says she is worried over the Islamists'
win because she doesn't want Egypt to "go back 1 000 years."
Muslim and we want freedom and tolerance for all, but if they
[Islamists] come to power, there will be less freedom for all,
especially women," said Qansouah, 72, adding that a parliament dominated
by Islamists will "mean that all the objectives of the revolution have
But others expressed a different view.
Muslims who fear God to rule because they are cleaner than those who
came before," said Karim Nabil, who cast his ballot while holding a
Brotherhood leaflet in the other hand.
There are still two more
rounds of voting staggered over the coming weeks. The ballots are a
confusing mix of individual races and party lists, and Sunday's results
only reflect the party list performance for less than a third of the
Violations such as campaigning outside polling centres have been rife.
activists sat with laptops outside polling stations to help voters find
their way, distributing leaflets with names and symbols of their
In Cairo's overcrowded Bab el-Shariya neighbourhood,
Brotherhood posters were strung overhead along the alleyway leading to
A voter-turned-activist Mohammed Radwan, 24,
said he voted for the Brotherhood because it is "natural" that Egyptians
vote for Islamists.
is that the Qur’an and traditions of the prophet should rule our lives,"
Radwan said while handing out Brotherhood campaign material. "Some
people come to me and say, 'I don't know how to vote', so I help them,"
Asked about campaigning on election day, Radwan said
Egyptians under Mubarak were not "used to elections" and he was only
helping voters learn about some of the 101 Brotherhood candidates.
strong Islamist showing worries liberal parties, and even some
religious parties, who fear the two groups will work to push a religious
agenda. It has also left many of the youthful activists behind the
uprising that ousted Mubarak in February feeling that their revolution
has been hijacked.
Since Mubarak's fall, the groups that led the
uprising and Islamists have been locked in a dispute over what the
country's new constitution should look like.
The new parliament will be tasked, in theory, with selecting a 100-member panel to draft the new constitution.
adding to tensions, the ruling military council that took over from
Mubarak has suggested it will set criteria to the choice of 80 of those
members, and said parliament will have no mandate over formation of a