Middle East

Egypt holds parliamentary poll

A woman votes in Alexandria, Egypt (28 Nov 2010)
Image caption Turnout is not expected to be much above 10%

Egyptians have been voting in a parliamentary poll after a campaign that saw clashes between the opposition and security forces.

The ruling NDP party is expected to win the election easily.

Interest centres on whether the officially banned Muslim Brotherhood retains its position as the biggest opposition grouping.

Earlier, the son of a candidate was killed in Cairo but it was unclear whether it was election-related.

There have also been unconfirmed reports of some violence outside the capital involving supporters of the government and the Muslim Brotherhood.

In 2005, its supporters won about a fifth of the seats, standing as independent candidates.

The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo says turnout is not expected to be much above 10% as most Egyptians have long since lost faith in politics and politicians.

Voting complaints

The man who was killed this weekend was putting up posters for his father, an independent candidate, in the hours before voting started.

Relatives said he was attacked in a poor neighbourhood by two men, and stabbed to death.

They said it was politically motivated, although the authorities have suggested the crime was about a personal matter.

There were other reports of confrontation and violence around the country.

In the northern city of Alexandria, a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood, there was a tense stand-off between their supporters and backers of the NDP.

Muslim Brotherhood candidates must stand as independents if they wish to take part in the election, but their supporters said they had been prevented from voting.

"There's no voting going on, just rigging. It's a disgrace," said one voter. "There was no privacy. The ballot boxes were full."

But Abdel-Salam Mahgoub, an NDP candidate in Alexandria, told Reuters the Muslim Brotherhood were "looking for an excuse to cover their failure".

Widespread criticism

Many people have stayed home, fearing election day violence, and the streets of Cairo are exceptionally quiet, our correspondent says.

Some 42m voters are eligible to cast their ballots, with results expected within several days.

Image caption President Hosni Mubarak (left, on poster) has ruled Egypt for nearly 30 years

The new parliament will have 518 members, 508 of whom will be elected and 10 will be appointed by presidential decree.

Each of the 254 constituencies will return two MPs representing two sets of people: workers and farmers represent one group, and professionals the other. According to the constitution, the former must account for at least half of all MPs.

The winners are decided on a first-past-the-post basis. To win outright, a candidate must get more than 50% of the vote. Otherwise, the top two battle it out in a second round.

There has already been widespread criticism of the way the election has been conducted.

In a number of seats, the courts have called for the elections to be postponed, because opposition candidates were illegally struck off the ballot.

Some observers believe that the ruling party may win an embarrassingly large victory, further undermining the credibility of these elections.

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