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Egypt

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Index
  1. Egypt Main Page
  2. Egypt Becomes a Republic
  3. Tensions Between Egypt and Israel Erupt in the Six-Day War
  4. Egypt Begins Fighting Islamic Extremists
  5. Mubarak Resigns Under Intense Pressure from Protesters
  6. Several Milestones Signal Transition to Democracy
  7. Protesters Return to Tahrir Square
  8. Islamists Fare Well in Parliamentary Elections; Political Turmoil Complicates Presidential Vote
  9. Mubarak Sentenced to Life in Prison
  10. Protests Threaten Morsi Government
  11. Morsi Deposed by Military After One Year in Office
  12. Military Brutally Cracks Down on Protesters
  13. Voters Approve New Constitution
  14. Mass Death Sentences Handed Down in Killing of Officer
  15. Voter Turnout Unexpectedly Low in Presidential Election
  16. Dangerous Jihadist Group Intensifies Attacks on Troops; Pledges Allegiance to ISIS
Islamists Fare Well in Parliamentary Elections; Political Turmoil Complicates Presidential Vote

Despite the political turmoil and uncertainty, millions of Egyptians voted in the first round of parliamentary elections on Nov. 28, 2011. The Muslim Brotherhood fared better than expected, winning about 40% of the vote. Even more of a shock was the second place finish of the ultraconservative Islamist Salafists, who took about 25%. The Muslim Brotherhood, however, said it did not plan to form a coalition with the Salafis—an apparent attempt to calm fears that it would assemble an Islamist government. In fact, it said that it planned to form a unity government with secularists and would respect the rights of women and religious minorities.

The second round of parliamentary elections in mid-December were marred by violence. Protesters demonstrating against military rule were beat up and troops assaulted civilians who assembled outside parliament and judges who were enlisted to supervise the vote counting. In response, the civilian advisory council, formed to help the military council gain acceptance with the populace, ceased operations. The move was an embarrassment to the military council. The reputation of the military was further tarnished in late December, when it beat, kicked, and stripped several women who were participating in a women's demonstration against military rule.

After the third and final round of voting, the Muslim Brotherhood emerged as the clear winner, taking 47% of the seats in parliament. The Salafis won 25%, giving Islamists more than 70% of the seats. The first democratically elected parliament in more than 60 years convened in January 2012. Parliament, however, will remain secondary to the military council until the military hands power to a civilian government, which is expected after May's presidential election. The legislative body was charged with forming a committee to write a new constitution. The Muslim Brotherhood named as many as 70 Islamists, including 50 members of parliament, to the 100-person committee. Given its dominance in parliament and control over the new constitution, the Brotherhood said it would not enter a candidate in the presidential election.

About 100,000 protesters gathered in Tahrir Square on January 25, 2012—the first anniversary of the revolution. Rather than a unified demonstration, the gathering turned out to be divisive, with some criticizing the military's continued hold on power, others expressing anger that Muslim Brotherhood's cooperation with the military.

A series of events in March and April 2012 upset the political landscape in Egypt. In March, the Muslim Brotherhood rescinded its earlier pledge not to run a candidate in May's presidential election. The move caused concern in the West, in Israel, and among liberals in Egypt as observers wondered if the Brotherhood had abandoned its vow to follow a course of moderation and was instead seeking a monopoly on power.

Then in early April, a court suspended the work of the constitution-writing committee. Since the constitution will not be written before presidential elections, the new president will control the process, certainly adding a new level of importance to the race. Later in the month, election officials disqualified ten out of 23 candidates in the presidential elections on technical grounds, including three leading contenders: Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's spy chief; Shater; and Hazem Abu Ismail, an ultraconservative Islamist. The first round of Egypt's first democratic presidential election, held on May 23, was inconclusive. The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi and former prime minister Ahmed Shafik faced off in a second round on June 16 and 17.

Two weeks before the run-off election, a smooth transition—or any transition at all—to a democratically elected government seemed impossible when the military council reimposed martial law, dissolved Parliament on a technicality, gave the military legislative and budgetary authority, and released an interim constitution that further eroded the powers of the president. Many Egyptians and observers called the moves a coup. However, the military council recognized the victory of Morsi over Shafik—a sign of hope despite clear challenges ahead. Morsi won 51.7% of the vote. On July 10th—10 days into his presidency—Morsi defied the military and ordered that Parliament be reinstated. Legislators met briefly, and the Supreme Constitutional Court issued a ruling affirming their decision to dissolve Parliament. The moves signaled a protracted power struggle between Morsi and the military.

In late July Morsi named Hesham Kandil, an engineer who served as head of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation during the interim government, as prime minister. Kandil is a Muslim but not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi's cabinet, seated in early August, is composed of several former ministers and members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which deflated hopes that the new government would introduce swift change and raised concern that the Brotherhood would attempt to exclude other parties from governance.

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