Egyptians return to polls for second round of elections

Egyptians return to polls for second round of elections Egyptians began voting today in the second round of parliamentary elections set to be completed in a third phase in January. As with the first phase, the voting has occurred with only minor incidents of violence. A skirmish closed one polling station in the outskirts of ...

546020_111214_1357756802.jpg
546020_111214_1357756802.jpg

Egyptians return to polls for second round of elections

Egyptians return to polls for second round of elections

Egyptians began voting today in the second round of parliamentary elections set to be completed in a third phase in January. As with the first phase, the voting has occurred with only minor incidents of violence. A skirmish closed one polling station in the outskirts of Cairo for three hours, however no one was killed. The head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Field-Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, said there would be increased security measures taken to prevent electoral violations that were seen in the first round of elections. Voting will take place in nine out of Egypt’s 27 provinces including Giza, Luxor, Aswan, and Ismailia, which are in more rural regions that have traditionally held conservative Islamic political leanings. Islamists took a strong lead in the initial round of elections with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party taking 36.6 percent of the vote and winning 32 of 56 individual parliamentary seats, and the conservative Salafi al-Nour party claiming five seats with 24.4 percent. The secular liberal Egyptian bloc came in third receiving 13.4 percent of the vote. Liberal parties were however seen to better coordinate prior to this phase of polling in efforts to take back some of the Islamist lead. The elections aim to determine a lower parliamentary house that will be tasked with appointing a committee to draft a new Egyptian constitution.

Headlines  

  • The Syrian death toll continues to rise as up to six people were killed when security forces opened fire upon a car and at least eight soldiers were killed in an ambush by Syrian army defectors.
  • Right-wing activists clashed with Jerusalem police attempting to detain suspects following the arson of an abandoned Jerusalem mosque vandalized in a “price tag” attack.
  • Kuwait’s Emir swore in a “new” cabinet headed by the former defense minister and comprised of 10 ministers who held posts in the previous government that resigned over corruption charge.
  • Two blasts on an oil pipeline in southern Iraq have cut the country’s oil production in half, though repairs are expected to be completed within a week.
  • After closing the Mugharbi bridge to al-Aqsa mosque due to safety concerns, Israel has reopened it  after wide Palestinian uproar that the closure was “a declaration of religious war.”

Daily Snapshot

Egyptian women line up to vote in Cairo, on December 14, 2011, during the second round of parliamentary voting. Islamists who swept to victory in the first stage of Egypt’s parliamentary elections were looking to extend their winning streak in a second round of voting (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images). 

Arguments & Analysis

‘Saudi Arabia in the new Middle East’ (F. Gregory Gause III, CFR)

“If Riyadh would like to coordinate with Washington on regime change policy in Syria, Washington could ask for help on Iraq as part of its larger shared goal of regional stability. A new Saudi-U.S. initiative on Yemen could be made contingent on a Saudi promise to ratchet down the sectarian rhetoric. Saudi worries about Iran, voiced regularly to U.S. officials, should be met with the response that political dialogue across sectarian lines in Bahrain and Iraq would reduce the Iranian ability to meddle in the Arab world.” 

‘Hezbollah’s hypocritical resistance’ (Larbi Sadiki, International Herald Tribune)

“In a speech last week, Mr. Nasrallah vowed to continue supporting the Syrian regime while commemorating the martyrdom of the venerated Shiite Imam Hussein ibn Ali during the battle of Karbala in the year 680. But Mr. Nasrallah forgets that before his death Imam Hussein lamented that living under the tyranny of the Damascus-based Umayyad Caliphate was a great sorrow — a message that seems to have been lost on Hezbollah today. Blind to his present political predicament, Mr. Nasrallah has instead declared that Hezbollah will never allow the ouster of Mr. Assad. Luckily for the Syrian people, that choice is not Mr. Nasrallah’s.”

‘A tangled road lies ahead in Tunisia’s constitutional process’ (Amine Ghali, The Daily Star)

“Opening the process to some form of consultation from stakeholders with expertise and participation of a larger public outside the assembly (both throughout the drafting process and at the constitution’s final approval) should be key approaches in improving the population’s feeling of acquisition toward this important document — which will steer the political life of Tunisians for the next few decades. The current protests outside the assembly building are reflective of the eagerness of the public to participate in this process.” 

Latest on the Channel

— ‘Morocco’s bottom-up movement for reform’ by Zahir Rahman

— ‘The battle for Upper Egypt’ by Lauren E. Bohn

    <p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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