Amr Moussa, a leading candidate for Egypt's presidency, said today that a strong Islamist showing in the first election since army generals replaced Hosni Mubarak in February must be accepted as democracy in action.
Islamists in the Muslim Brotherhood also have urged their rivals to "accept the will of the people" after a first-round vote put the party on course to take the most seats in the lower house of parliament.
The hard-line Salafi Islamist party also fared well, thrusting liberals into third place.
Political analysts say the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party may avoid teaming with its ultraconservative Islamist rivals. But the popular mandate for Islamists is expected to strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood's position in any power struggle with the military.
Official figures released today show the Party of Freedom and Justice with 36.6 percent of valid party-list votes, followed by the Salafi al-Nour party with 24.4 percent, and the liberal Egyptian Bloc with 13.4 percent.
The liberal New Wafd party took 7.1 percent, the moderate Islamist Wasat party 4.3 percent, while the Revolution Continues, a group formed by youth activists, won 3.5 percent.
Egyptians return to the polls on Monday for 52 run-off votes for individual candidates.
Two more rounds of the complicated voting process end in January.
compiled from agency reports