Egypt Begins Second Round of Voting

Posted December 14th, 2011 at 9:55 am (UTC-5)
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Egyptians jammed polling stations in a third of the nation's provinces Wednesday in the second round of parliamentary elections as Islamist parties hoped to extend their electoral gains.

Polls opened in nine areas Wednesday, including Aswan, Beni Suef, Giza, Ismailia, Suez and Sohag. More than 18 million Egyptians are eligible to cast ballots in the second round, which ends on Thursday.

Voters are choosing seats in the 498-member lower house of parliament. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the conservative al-Nour Salafi Islamist party dominated the first round of voting in late November.

Some in the West are alarmed by the front-running status of Islamist parties. But some Islamists are raising alarms of their own, warning of Western-style freedoms, such as gay marriage, to bring voters to their side in the rural areas.

A third round of elections covering the remaining nine provinces will take place in early January.

The parliamentary elections are Egypt's first since a popular uprising ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.

Elections for parliament's less powerful upper house will begin in late January and finish in March, after which the assembly will write a new constitution.