Breaking News: Most Purple Thumbs in Egypt Will Come From The Muslim Brotherhood

Joshua Hirsch of the Huffington Post Reports (excerpted):

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt — ….  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.

Early polling showed that Islamists have the support of about a third of Egypt’s population. But as elections commenced, just nine months after the fall of dictator Hosni Mubarak, Islamist parties have been aided by exceptionally sophisticated get-out-the-vote programs, as well as the inefficiency and fracturing of the country’s new secular and liberal parties.

Here in Alexandria, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political wing of the Brotherhood, said they had approximately 10,000 volunteers on the streets …. The Free Egyptian party, one of the better-financed and operated of the new liberal parties, told The Huffington Post that they had about 400 street workers, while Al Adl (Justice) put their total number of volunteers at just 12.

The Alexandria political director for Al Adl, said during a midday break in his office on Tuesday. “What you saw yesterday, it was the result of the fact that the Brotherhood has been working in Egypt for 80 years. They have the base, they do good work with their community — they know the process well. We are only three months old.”

“It was very impressive, to be honest,” said Mouhira Saleh, the Free Egyptian’s Alexandria political director. “There are nearly 500 stations in Alexandria, and in front of each one of them yesterday the FJP had not less than seven people. Each of them in matching uniforms. It was raining, and they even had matching yellow raincoats — raincoats!”

One leading Brotherhood official Essam alErian, told The New York Times on Tuesday that the party was likely to escalate pressure against the ruling military regime to allow this parliament to appoint the Prime Minister. Until now, the new parliament has only been entrusted with the responsibility of drafting a constitution, while the military has retained much of the executive authorities. Proper civilian presidential elections are expected to take place next summer.

But another journalist who recently interviewed el-Erian, the Christian Science Monitor’s Kristen Chick, wrote Wednesday on Twitter that she found him to be far more conciliatory about the relationship between parliament and the military.

The Salafists, (often associated with the extremist philosophy behind el Qaeda), are expected to take a ruthlessly conservative line on social issues. …Nader Bakkar, a spokesman for the Salafist Nour Party, in Cairo, told The Huffington Post that under an Islamist regime in Egypt, alcohol would be banned, and women would be required to dress conservatively in public. He also said that Islamic law would offer protections to Christian religious minorities, and suggested that, in his opinion, “What has happened to Jewish people in the Second World War is not true.”

The rise of Islamists in the elections poses a significant dilemma for the liberal parties, many of which had been engaged in a fierce struggle with the ruling military regime currently in control of the country. But they now quietly acknowledge that a powerful military may be their best hope to hold off sweeping changes from an Islamist controlled parliament.



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