It's only the first stages of a long election process, but Egypt's conservative Islamic parties are set to take control of the country's new post-revolution Parliament. Early returns from this week's voting show that The Muslim Brotherhood and the ultraconservative Salafis should take about 65 percent of all the available seats.
Although it was young liberal activists who sparked the uprising in Cairo this spring, it is the old hard-line parties that have taken full advantage of the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, mostly due to better organization and experience. Much like the left in the America, the liberal parties are more divided and often at odds about the direction the new government should take. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood was one of the few political parties that was actually able to operate (though under heavy restrictions) in Mubarak's Egypt and was already well-positioned to rally supporters for the first election. They took nearly 40 percent of the vote by themselves.
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The Islamists themselves are not united — Salafis are advocates of Islamic banking and more restrictions on women's rights — but will at least be able to form a voting bloc that can dominate the government and shut out liberals activists.
There are still two more rounds of voting that will stretch in 2012 before the full Parliament will be elected, and even then the legislature will still be competing with the military for control of the country. A military council has been in charge since Mubarak stepped down, and it will remain that way until a new president is elected... and maybe beyond. The council has not yet set a date for the presidential election and even hinted that will retain much of its authority even after a new leader is chose.