Egypt's Ruling Party Wins Big In Parliamentary Elections

by
Joon
(CNN)

Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party won 217 seats in the first round of voting in the country's parliamentary elections, the semi-official Al-Ahram newspaper said.

The opposition parties won a mere handful of seats in the 508-seat parliament, with the main opposition bloc -- Muslim Brotherhood -- finding its presence going from 88 seats to zero.

The Muslim Brotherhood may yet pick up some seats in the second round of voting.

Twenty-seven candidates affiliated with the party are taking part in runoff elections set for Sunday. Muslim Brotherhood candidates run as independents because the group is illegal according to Egyptian law, which bans parties based on religion.

The runoff will involve 377 candidates from the National Democratic Party.

On Tuesday, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama criticized the elections, saying there had been "numerous reported irregularities" and "restrictions on basic freedoms."

National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer called the reports "worrying" and said the United States is "disappointed."

Critics had predicted that Sunday's race would be tainted by fraud and intimidation, but the government declared it "a success."

Egypt's official MENA news service reported that 6,000 members of 76 civil groups monitored the elections. The country rejected international monitoring of the vote as interference in its internal affairs.