Egypt Vote Is on, despite Deadly Protests. How Will the Muslim Brotherhood Do?

Article excerpt

The Muslim Brotherhood chose not to support protests against Egypt's military rulers this past week. It could hurt them in parliamentary elections tomorrow.

Egyptians will head to the polls Monday in the first parliamentary elections since the uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in February.

The country's military rulers, who took over from Mr. Mubarak, are determined that voting will proceed on time despite increasing doubts about the election's legitimacy and security after a week in which at least 40 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured by security forces as they protested for the end of military rule.

The surprising surge of protests has reenergized the liberal and leftist revolutionaries who had lost momentum as demonstrations floundered over the summer and the Muslim Brotherhood - Egypt's most organized group - prepared to dominate the polls.

Some of these groups are now calling for a boycott of the vote, saying that any elections held under military rule are illegitimate. Yet the revolutionary momentum is unlikely to dampen the strong prospects of the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). The Brotherhood did not support the protesters, instead calling for calm so that elections could proceed.

"[The FJP] will pay a price [for not supporting the protests], but not a high price," says Ibrahim El Houdaiby, an analyst and former member. "They have their own constituents who understand what they're doing. They're not betting on the votes of the revolutionaries."

Monday's vote, which will extend through Tuesday, is the first round in a three-round election for the lower house of parliament. The voting for each round has been extended to two days in an attempt allay concerns about voters being disenfranchised, but the elaborate voting process is leading to worries that confusion will be rampant.

Strong grassroots support

With an organizational network long in place, the Muslim Brotherhood jumped out of the starting gate and hit the streets campaigning. …