Egypt’s ruling party heads to sweeping vote win
CAIRO: President Hosni Mubarak's ruling party was cruising to a sweeping victory after the first round of a parliamentary election while Egypt's opposition parties won just a handful of seats, state media said on Wednesday.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which controlled a fifth of seats in the outgoing parliament, had earlier said it won no seats in Sunday's vote but said 26 candidates were in December 5 run-offs.
The group, which runs candidates as independents to skirt a ban on religious parties, has said it may now quit the race. Analysts said the government wanted to push its Islamist critics to the margins of formal politics before next year's presidential race. Mubarak, 82, in power since 1981, has not said if he will run again in 2011.
Rights groups and the opposition accused the authorities of ballot stuffing, bullying and other fraudulent tactics in the first round. The government said the vote was fair and any abuses were checked but did not undermine the overall vote. The White House said it was disappointed with the conduct of Sunday's voting, citing "worrying" problems with restrictions on poll monitors, the press and on freedom of speech. The United States is Egypt's ally and a major aid donor. The High Elections Commission, a body of judges and parliament nominees which oversaw the vote, published a list of results for individual seats on its website without a breakdown.
The state-owned AlAkhbar newspaper published a tally giving the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) 209 of the 508 seats up for grabs, with 275 NDP candidates running in 283 run-offs.
Run-off votes are held between the top two candidates in seats where no one received more than 50 percent of the vote. In many run-offs, NDP candidates will be pitted against each other, guaranteeing the ruling party a seat. The NDP fielded far more candidates than seats, a move a party official said was partly aimed at squeezing the Brotherhood. Mubarak's government has long been wary of any group with Islamist leanings. -Reuters
VIENNA: Austrian Finance Minister Josef Proell (L) sits next to Chancellor Werner Faymann (R) as far right Freedom Party head Heinz-Christian Strache delivers his speech during the first reading of the budget in the Parliament. -Reuters