The Muslim brotherhood won nearly 37% of the ballots in the first round of 3 parliamentary votes scheduled this month. The Salafis finished a strong second with more than 24%.
Islamist parties won more than 60% of the vote in the first round of Egypt's parliamentary elections, according to official results reported Sunday by state media.
The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party won 36.6% and the Salafis of the Al Nour party won 24.4% of the 9.7 million votes cast. The Brotherhood's dominance was expected, but the strong showing by the Salafis was a surprise, suggesting Egyptians were heavily influenced by the religious message and grass-roots organization of the Islamists.
If the trend continues in the second and third rounds, Islamists could control parliament. But in recent days the Muslim Brotherhood has distanced itself from the puritanical Salafis, attempting to strike a moderate tone that could possibly persuade secular and centrist parties to join it in a coalition government. The Brotherhood is pushing for a constitution anchored in Islamic law but has been careful not to emphasize religion over mending the nation's severe economic and social problems.
The secular Egyptian Bloc finished third in the voting with 1.29 million ballots. The Wafd Party and the relatively moderate Islamic party Al Wasat finished with fewer than 1 million voters each.
One reason the Islamists scored such a convincing victory was the unnecessarily complex and confusing ballot. Another reason was that the Brotherhood has been a fixture in Egypt for decades and had overwhelming name recognition.
But in the end, the Egyptian people were not voting blindly. They knew full well who and what the Muslim Brotherhood represents and they cannot claim ignorance of how radical the Salfis are.
They are going to get the government they voted for - no more, no less. That should give western powers pause in thinking that promoting "democracy" will lead to any sort of "freedom" we would recognize as such.