An update to Feisal Mohamed?s election analysis earlier this week:
News out of Egypt continues to trickle in, the most distressing item of which is a soccer loss to Morocco that has made precarious Egypt?s bid to compete in the London Olympics.
Fifty-two ?independent? seats were decided in the run-offs of the first round of parliamentary elections. The votes went largely to the Muslim Brotherhood?s Freedom and Justice Party, which won thirty-four of the forty-five seats for which it was competing. The Salafist Al-Nour Party had a wonderfully poor showing, picking up five seats in the twenty-seven races in which it was active. Most satisfying is the defeat in Alexandria of Abdel-Moneim al-Shahat, mentioned in my original piece, who lost to a member of the FJP-led alliance.
These results place the FJP and its coalition allies very close to a majority: they are estimated now to have eighty-two of the 168 seats decided in the first round, followed by Al-Nour with thirty-three seats. The secular Left, in the form of various revolutionary parties, the multi-party Egyptian Bloc, and Al-Wafd?Egypt?s most historically significant liberal party, though seeming unlikely ever to relive its glory days?now hold thirty-six seats. Four seats are held by Al-Wasat, a left-leaning Islamist party that left the FJP alliance to avoid living under the thumb of Brotherhood leadership. Those parties that the newspaper Al-Ahram classifies as ?NDP offshoots? have won seven seats, and four seats have gone to independents.
The most significant political battle emerging is over the SCAF?s determination of the powers of the new parliament and constitutional assembly. In a reprise of Mubarak?s favorite role, the SCAF has cast itself as the nation?s heroic protector from the Islamist plague. Once the FJP and Al-Nour results had come in, Major General Mokhtar el-Mulla made a statement to the foreign press indicating that the new parliament is not truly representative of the Egyptian people, and that it would not have final say in determining the constitutional assembly. The constitutional assembly will be led by the existing cabinet, which was formed by the SCAF, and an ?advisory council? of political parties, intellectuals, and revolutionaries. As currently proposed, the advisory council pleases no one. The Left feels under-represented and objects to the SCAF?s ongoing attempts to direct political affairs. Recognizing the council as a pointed attempt to stanch its influence, FJP representatives stormed out of discussions on the advisory council within hours of the major general?s statement.
Should the FJP continue to succeed at the polls, and all indications are that it will, the SCAF will look increasingly authoritarian in its attempts to limit the party?s role in the new government and the drafting of the constitution. However morally legitimate its distaste for the Brotherhood, the SCAF?s strong action against the new parliament will lack political legitimacy.