December 14, 2011

Egypt elections enter second round

A man walks past election posters in Giza, Egypt (12 Dec 2011)Egyptians are voting for a parliament which will draw up a new constitution
Egyptians are going to the polls for the second round of elections to a new parliament - the first since President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February.
The first round earlier this month was dominated by Islamist parties, with the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party winning 36.6% 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 committee to draft a new constitution for the post-revolution era.
Voting has been staggered over three months to allow each round to be carefully supervised by the judiciary.
Islamist divide
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 second round is taking place in nine regions, including some outer districts of the capital, Cairo, and in more rural regions around the Nile Delta, traditionally a stronghold of Political Islam.
Polling stations opened at 08:00 local time (06:00 GMT) and voting will take place over two days.
Just as in the first round, queues formed early at polling stations and there were delays as some failed to open on time.

Egypt's complicated vote

  • Three separate polls over coming months
  • Elections to 508-member People's Assembly (lower house) - 28 Nov-10 Jan 2012
  • Elections to 270-strong Shura Council (upper house) - 29 Jan-11 March 2012
  • Presidential elections due mid-2012
  • Two-thirds of members for both houses elected by PR
  • One-third chosen by first-past-the-post system
  • Provinces divided into three groups, voting on different dates
  • More than 40 political parties compete, fielding more than 10,000 candidates
The third round will be held in January, while a presidential election is scheduled to be held in mid-2012.
The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo says Islamist candidates are expected to build on their earlier gains, with the ultraconservative Salafist al-Nour Party forecast to do particularly well in the conservative areas. Al-Nour won 24.4% of the vote in the first round.
Secularist and liberal candidates have been trailing in third place so far.
The secular Egyptian Bloc came third in the first round with 13.4% of the vote, followed by the liberal Wafd Party with 7.1% and the moderate Islamist Wasat Party with 4.3%. The Revolution Continues, a group formed by youth activists behind the uprising that ousted Mr Mubarak in February, won 3.5%.
But the divide between the Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafists is as important as that between the religious and secular parties, says our correspondent.
The Muslim Brotherhood are putting themselves forward as more moderate and pragmatic, while the more uncompromising Salafists are more in touch with the poorer sections of Egyptian society, he adds.
Mr Mubarak stepped down in February after weeks of large-scale political protests in Cairo and across the country.
The military took over the running of the country, but it has been accused in recent months of trying to slow down the transition to civilian rule and safeguard its own interests.
Protesters have again taken to the streets, and last month saw further deadly clashes with demonstrators angry at the slow pace of reform.

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