A massive election turnout in this largely conservative Muslim coastal city has contributed to what many are estimating to be a sweeping victory by Egypt’s Islamist parties in the country’s first democratic elections this week.
The voting, which began Monday in the country’s largest metropolitan areas and continues into January, will decide the makeup of the country’s first elected parliament since the ouster of strongman Hosni Mubarak. The newly-elected body will be empowered to craft a new constitution.
But as preliminary results and rough polling data emerged Wednesday, it became increasingly clear that the country’s conservative Islamist parties are likely to fare even better than anticipated — and may even garner an outright majority of the seats, rather than just a large plurality.
Reuters reported midday Wednesday that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom & Justice Party, the largest single movement in the country, was expected to pull about 40 percent of the vote. Together with a bloc of more extreme Salafists, the total proportion of the vote that goes to Islamists in this round — thought to be the most liberal of the three voting regions — is likely to top 50 percent.