Partial results for Egypt's first round of parliamentary elections reveal Islamist parties leading with 65 percent of the party-list votes, a stronger than expected showing that puts liberal groups on the defensive.
The figures released Sunday by Egypt's High Election Commission put the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party in front with 36.6 percent of the ballots cast, followed by the hardline Salafist Nour party with 24.4 percent. The moderate Islamist Wasat party took 4.3 percent.
The liberal Egyptian Bloc garnered 13.4 percent, putting that coalition of parties in third place.
This paste week's voting will determine the membership for about 30 percent of the 498-seat lower house. Egyptians will return to the polls Monday for 52 runoff votes for individual candidates.
Election commissioner Abdel-Mooaez Ibrahim says a record voter turnout took place in the first round vote covering nine provinces. Voters in the remaining 18 provinces will cast ballots in two stages that will take place in the coming weeks.
The man appointed by military rulers to lead a new Cabinet, Kamal al-Ganzouri, says he will delay announcing ministers until Wednesday because ballot counting is taking longer than expected.
After the process is completed for the lower house, voting for parliament's upper house will begin. The entire election process will not be over until March.
The balloting is Egypt's first voting since former president Hosni Mubarak resigned in February.
Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed deep concern over the initial success of Islamist parties. Mr. Barak – a former Israeli prime minister – told Israeli television Saturday that although it is too early to predict how the changes will affect the region, he finds the trend “worrisome.”