Throngs of Egyptians voted for a second day Tuesday in parliamentary elections that were surprisingly peaceful, as the country appeared excited and determined to fulfill the so far elusive promises of the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak. Lines snaked and last-minute campaigning echoed across nine governorates as the first round of a multistage vote drew what Abdel-Moez Ibrahim, head of the election commission, called a “massive and unexpected turnout.”
After months of protests and anger over military rule, Egyptians were defiant in stamping their imprints on ballots and on the nation’s fate. The election took place as protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square dwindled and voters focused on the deeper questions of selecting a 498-seat parliament that would write a constitution and usher in a post-Mubarak political era.
The Egyptian Council for Human Rights reported Tuesday that it had received 964 complaints of voting irregularities. A majority of the grievances involved polls opening late and illegal campaigning outside voting stations, most notably by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and the ultraconservative Islamist Salafi party Al Nour.
“This is the first time in Egypt’s history where we hold proper elections. Minor violations and organizing errors are acceptable because we are all still learning the electoral process,” said Hassan Ibrahim, a 41-year-old barber who skipped work Tuesday to vote.