CAIRO - Egyptians returned to polling stations on Monday, December 5, for the second time in a week in Egypt's elections runoff, the vote expected to extend the Islamists victory in the country's first parliamentary polls since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak earlier this year.
During the Mubarak era, because of the largescale rigging, we used to know the results before the elections even took place, Hamdy Hassan, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) member competing in the runoffs for the professional seat in Alexandria, told Ahram Online.
But this era is over. We don't know what the outcome will be. We just have to wait and see, Hassan said.
Last week, residents in a third of governorates including Cairo and second-city Alexandria cast ballots at the start of the multi-stage polls, choosing a party and two candidates for a new 498-seat lower house of parliament.
The FJP proportional lists represented 11 parties who are members of the Brotherhood-led Democratic Alliance.
Final results from the first round have revealed the Alliance secured 40 percent of the seats saved for proportional lists. It is not yet clear how many of the winners are from the FJP versus other parties.
The Salafist Al-Nur party came in second place with 24.4 percent.
"We welcome the Egyptian people's choice," FJP spokesman Ahmed Sobea told AFP on Sunday after the publication of results.
"Egypt now needs all parties to cooperate together to get it out of its crisis."
Out of the 52 run-off contests taking place, the FJP said it had a candidate in 45 of them, while Al-Nur has 26, meaning they are almost certain to increase their representation in the new assembly.
I think we can only assess our performance after Monday's reruns are finished, Essam El-Erian, deputy head of the FJP, told Ahram Online.
The results in Egypt fit a pattern established in Tunisia and Morocco where Islamists have also gained in elections as they benefit from the new freedoms brought by the pro-democracy movements of the Arab Spring.
With both sides at loggerheads in the runoff, observers expect to witness the most heated two-horse race between Al-Nur and the FJP.
There isn't any sort of coordination between us and the Brotherhood this time around, Al-Nur Party spokesperson Yossri Hamad told Ahram Online.
The competition is going to be extremely tough for sure, especially in Alexandria and Damietta, where we have six candidates, Hamad said.
We also support some independent candidates who we believe in.
Previously, Al-Nour Party, along with Islamic Bloc members the Building and Development and Al-Asala parties, were part of the Democratic Alliance for Egypt, which is led by the FJP.
Weeks before the elections, however, the three parties defected from the alliance in protest against their party shares on the alliance's electoral lists, following on the heels of other groups who had earlier parted company with the Brotherhood, such as Al-Wafd Party.
Admitting mistakes in the first stage of elections last week, El-Erian, deputy head of the FJP, said that the elections were transparent and objective, and hence will be representative of what the Egyptian people want.
Yes, there are mistakes and violations, El-Erian said.
But we all agree that if the elections continue this way, and we avoid previous mistakes, then we will inaugurate a new era where Egyptians have the right to peacefully transfer power from one regime to another by casting their vote in the ballot box.
We've always dreamed of this in the past.