Islamists appear to have taken a strong majority of seats in the first round of Egypt’s first parliamentary vote since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, a trend that if confirmed would give religious parties a popular mandate in the struggle to win control from the ruling military and ultimately reshape a key U.S. ally.
Final results, expected Friday, will be the clearest indication in decades of Egyptians’ true political views and give the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood a major role in the country’s first freely elected parliament. An Islamist majority could also herald a greater role for conservative Islam in Egyptian social life and shifts in foreign policy, especially toward Israel and the Palestinians.
The showing in Egypt — long considered a linchpin of regional stability — would be the clearest signal yet that parties and candidates connected to political Islam will emerge as the main beneficiaries of this year’s Arab Spring uprisings.
Tunisia and Morocco have both elected Islamist majorities to parliament, and while Libya has yet to announce dates for its first elections, Islamist groups have emerged as a strong force there since rebels overthrew Moammar Gadhafi in August. They also play a strong opposition role in Yemen.
Judges overseeing the Egyptian vote count said Thursday that near-complete results show the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest and best organized political group, could take as many as 45 percent of the contested seats.