Muslim Brotherhood surges out of the gate in Egypt's elections
The Muslim Brotherhood, an 80-year-old Islamist organization banned under Mubarak, has made an impressive showing in the first round of Egypt's elections.
After the first round of elections this week, the Muslim Brotherhood is on track to gain the largest bloc of seats in Egypt’s new parliament, potentially giving it considerable sway over the country's direction post-Mubarak.
The 80-year-old Islamist organization – banned under former President Hosni Mubarak – has tapped the deep networks and reputation for social justice it had built over decades of charity work to run a highly efficient campaign, reaching not only Brotherhood members but Egyptians ignored by the government and unfamiliar with the many new liberal parties forged in Tahrir Square.
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Among those downtrodden Egyptians is nursery worker Hoda Mustafa, who lives in the densely populated slum of Imbaba in east Cairo, where buildings are stacked haphazardly and three-wheeled tuk-tuks ply the chaotic, potholed streets.
“It’s as if Imbaba isn’t even on the map,” said Mrs. Mustafa, laughing bitterly at the thought that the government has ever done anything for the neighborhood, where the Brotherhood recently campaigned. “But,” she added, gesturing at a Brotherhood candidate greeting men in a local coffee shop, “they will take care of Imbaba.”
The Brotherhood’s campaigning appears to be paying off. In the first round of parliamentary elections, held Nov. 28-29, its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) won strong support.The party estimates it has won 40 percent of the vote, though official results have not yet been released.
If the next two rounds of voting in the staggered election follow the same trend, as they are likely to – Mustafa and her neighbors in Imbaba are among those who will get to vote in the second round on Dec. 14-15 – the group will become the largest contingent in the new parliament.