CAIRO: Egypt on Wednesday wrapped up two-stage elections for the upper house of parliament, which caps a landmark legislative poll that saw Islamists propelled to the centre stage of politics.
Many polling stations were empty in the final day of voting for members of the Shoura Council, in sharp contrast to the long queues and active campaigning that marked the People’s Assembly vote.
Less than 10 percent of voters turned out in the first stage of voting for the Shoura Council which saw the two main Islamist parties dominate the polls, according to the electoral commission.
Final results for the upper house are expected to be announced on Saturday, after which members of both houses are to choose a panel to draft a new constitution.
The elections are part of a roadmap for a transition to democratic rule laid out by the ruling military council that took power after the popular uprising that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak last year.
Under the complex system adopted after Mubarak’s ouster, two thirds of the Shoura’s 180 elected members are elected via a party-list system, while one third are elected directly.
One third of the Shoura Council will be nominated by the head of state.
The powerful Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party won a crushing victory in the lower house of parliament elections, which were contested over three months, to clinch 43 percent of seats.
The Al-Nour, representing the ultra-conservative Salafist current of political Islam, came second place, with liberal parties trailing far behind.
The election comes amid nationwide protests calling for the immediate ouster of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces led by Mubarak’s longtime defense minister Hussein Tantawi.
Protesters accuse the military council of mismanagement and of human rights abuses.
The SCAF has vowed to cede power to civilian rule by June when a new president is elected, but there is widespread belief it seeks to maintain some degree of control even after June.