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January 21, 2012 6:15 pm
CAIRO, Jan 21 – 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, giving it a major role in drafting the country’s new constitution.
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.
The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has promised 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 parliament will help pick.
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.
According to final results of the staggered election issued by the High Elections Committee on Saturday, the Brotherhood’s electoral alliance took a 38 per cent share of the seats allocated to lists.
The hardline Islamist Al-Nour Party won 29 per cent 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.
The elections committee did not give results for individual seats, but the FJP’s alliance said on Saturday it now expected to take more than 47 per cent of all seats in the lower house.
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 expressed 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.
The ruling military council, which took over Mubarak’s duties after he was ousted in February, also named its choices on Saturday for the 10 parliamentary seats reserved for presidential appointees.
Only one woman was among the appointees which is likely to further disappoint feminist groups after women won only a handful of seats in the elections. Mubarak had traditionally used the quota to boost the representation of women and Coptic Christians.
Five of the appointees belonged to the Coptic community, which comprises some 10 per cent of the population.
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