Voter turnout light in Egypt's parliamentary runoff elections

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REPORTING FROM CAIRO -- After unprecedented turnout in last week's first round of parliamentary elections, Egyptian voters over the last two days did not flock to cast ballots in runoffs in nine of the nation's 27 governorates.

Voter turnout last week of 52% -- revised down from an earlier estimate of 62% -- was the highest ever in an Egyptian election. But this week observers around the country said voter participation has plummeted, while the National Council for Human Rights announced that it received 56 complaints of irregularities. The majority of complaints related to campaigning outside polling stations, the council said. There also were several accusation of thuggery and bribery.   

The runoffs included 104 candidates vying for more than 50 seats. The most intense races were between Islamist candidates belonging to the moderate Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafis of the ultraconservative Al Nour Party. The Brotherhood's party won more than 36.6% of the vote in the first round, followed by Al Nour with 24.4%. The liberal Egyptian Bloc, spearheaded by Coptic businessman Naguib Sawiris' Free Egyptians party, came in third.

Voting violations in last week's first round resulted in a court nullifying the results in one Cairo district. The court found that more than 70 ballot boxes were missing from the district and that supervising judges were not present during the counting of votes. A new election will be held in the district in January.

Runoff results are scheduled to be announced Thursday.

-- Amro Hassan

Photo: An Egyptian voter casts his ballot during this week's runoff elections. Credit: Oddo Andersen / Agence France-Presse

 
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