Egyptians are going to the polls in the second round of elections to a new parliament – the first since President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February. Voting has been relatively peaceful, with no major irregularities reported. The first round earlier this month was dominated by Islamist parties, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party winning a third of vote.
They are set to consolidate their gains this week, with polling taking place in more rural and conservative areas. The long and complex election process will not be completed until next month. The aim is to elect a lower house of parliament, which will then appoint a 100-member committee to draft a new constitution.
Under Egypt’s complex electoral system, two-thirds of the 498 elected seats in the People’s Assembly will be picked through proportional representation, using lists drawn up by parties and alliances. The remaining seats are decided by a first-past-the-post-system, with individual candidates required to win more than 50% of the votes to avoid a run-off contest.
The Freedom and Justice Party won 36.6% in the first round’s party-list vote, and said it had won 32 of the 56 individual seats contested, with four going to its allies. The second round is taking place over two days in nine governorates, which include some outer districts of the capital Cairo, and more rural regions around the Nile Delta, traditionally a stronghold of Political Islam.
Just as in the first round, queues formed early at some polling stations, though one group of observers said it was limited to the governorates of Giza and Buhaira. But unlike the previous phase, almost all polling stations opened on time, according to the Supreme Judicial Committee for Elections.
State television did report, however, that that one polling station in Giza was closed for three hours after a shoot-out between rival candidates. No-one was killed, while seven people were detained by security forces.