The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group, announced Wednesday that his group has the ability to win 75% of parliamentary seats in the country's planned September elections. This statement comes in spite of earlier assertions by Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie that the Brotherhood has more modest political aspirations.
Speaking to the state-run news agency MENA, Badie revealed his group's initial intentions to compete for only one-third of parliamentary seats in the post-revolution elections. Badie also denied that the Brotherhood had negotiated any deals with the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) about the country's political future.
Commenting on a meeting between the leader and the SCAF, Badie said that he only extolled the military's role in aiding the revolution and urged the council to uphold its agreements to transfer power to civilian authority at the end of the transitional period."We cannot let the relationship between the people and the army spoil," Badie cautioned.
Despite Badie's claim that the Brotherhood is only aiming for a small share of Egypt's newly forming government, Islamists stand to gain a great deal of political power in September, especially if they run on the same ticket. Unlike the Islamist groups that are generally well-funded and organized, traditional opposition parties were crippled under the three-decade rule of Hosni Mubarak. Now these parties, along with the liberal youths who orchestrated the widespread protests, are scrambling to organize in time for elections.
Though the Muslim Brotherhood has a long history within the Egyptian government, other fundamentalist groups are now showing interest in politics and raising concerns about Egypt's future. Of particular note are the Salafis and Gamaa Islamiya. Both these groups are more radical than the Brotherhood and threaten to turn Egypt into an Islamist state based on Sharia law. While acknowledging that these groups must be allowed to partake in elections if Egypt is to be a real democracy, the liberals and leftists behind the protests worry whether the Islamists will preserve the revolutionary ideals should they seize power.
"Egypt will not turn into Gaza or Iran," said the ruling military council in response to these concerns and the rising confidence within the ranks of Egypt's hard-liners.