Ultra-conservative Muslim groups—Salafis—appear to be winning a surprisingly strong 25% of the vote in Egypt, as early results are announced from the first elections since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, reports the New York Times. Combined with the expected 40% going to the more mainstream Muslim Brotherhood, Islamist groups would have a dominant 65% of the new parliament. “It means that, if the Brotherhood chooses, parliament can be an Islamist affair—a debate between liberal Islamists, moderate Islamists, and conservative Islamists, and that is it,” said one Egypt expert.
Liberal groups, despite leading the revolution last spring, suffered from poor organization and internal divisions. “We were washed out,” said the leader of one liberal party. Only one-third of Egypt voted this week, but analysts expect the coming rural votes to be even more conservative. The success of conservatives will likely hasten a showdown between the civilian politicians and the military, but for now Islamists are enjoying their apparent win. “There will be winners and losers. But the real—and only—victor is Egypt," said a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. (Read more Egypt stories.)