updated 12/4/2011 9:57:13 AM ET 2011-12-04T14:57:13

Islamist parties captured an overwhelming majority of votes in the first round of Egypt's parliamentary elections, setting up a power struggle with the much weaker liberals behind the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak 10 months ago. A hardline religious group that wants to impose strict Islamic law made a strong showing with nearly a quarter of the ballots, according to results released Sunday.

The tallies offer only a partial indication of how the new parliament will look. There are still two more rounds of voting in 18 of the country's 27 provinces over the coming month and runoff elections on Monday and Tuesday to determine almost all of the seats allocated for individuals in the first round. But the grip of the Islamists over the next parliament appears set, particularly considering their popularity in provinces voting in the next rounds.

The High Election Commission said the Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party garnered 36.6 percent of the 9.7 million valid ballots cast for party lists. The Nour Party, a more hardline Islamist group, captured 24.4 percent.

The strong Islamist showing worries liberal parties, and even some religious parties, who fear the two groups will work to push a religious agenda. It has also left many of the youthful activists behind the uprising that ousted Mubarak in February feeling that their revolution has been hijacked.

Story: Egyptian election results deepen Israeli fears

Since Mubarak's fall, the groups that led the uprising and Islamists have been locked in a fight over the country's new constitution. The new parliament will be tasked, in theory, with selecting a 100-member panel to draft the new constitution. But adding to tensions, the ruling military council that took over from Mubarak has suggested it will choose 80 of those members, and said parliament will have no say in naming a new government.

"The conflict will be over the soul of Egypt," said Nabil Abdel-Fattah, a senior researcher at the state-sponsored Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, calling the new parliament "transitional" with a "very conservative Islamic" outlook.

The Brotherhood has emerged as the most organized and cohesive political force in these elections. But with no track record of governing, it is not yet clear how they will behave in power. The party has positioned itself as a moderate Islamist party that wants to implement Islamic law without sacrificing personal freedoms, and has said it will not seek an alliance with the more radical Nour party.

Muslim Brotherhood bends rules to win big in Egypt

The ultraconservative Salafis who dominate the Nour Party are newcomers to the political scene. They had previously frowned upon involvement in politics and shunned elections. They espouse a strict interpretation of Islam similar to that of Saudi Arabia, where the sexes are segregated and women must be veiled and are barred from driving. Its members say laws contradicting religion can't be passed.

Egypt already uses Islamic law, or Shariah, as the basis for legislation. However, laws remain largely secular as Shariah does not cover all aspects of modern life.

If the Muslim Brotherhood chooses not to form an alliance with the Salafis, the liberal Egyptian Bloc — which came in third with 13.4 percent of the votes — could counterbalance hard-line elements.

It is also unclear how much influence the new parliament will have over Egypt's democratic transition and how long it will even serve. The power struggle in parliament could shape up as a fight among the different Islamist trends or between the Islamists and the liberal and secular forces.

Video: Egypt votes nearly a year after revolution (on this page)

The elections, which began Nov. 28, are the first since Mubarak's ouster and the freest and fairest in Egypt's modern history.

Turnout of around 60 percent was the highest in living memory as few participated in the heavily rigged votes under Mubarak.

The ballots are a confusing mix of individual races and party lists, and the Sunday results only reflect the party list performance for less than a third of the 498-seat parliament.

Another liberal list, the Wafd Party, received 7.1 percent, while the moderate Islamist Wasat or Centrist Party took 4.3 percent.

The final shape of the parliament will not be announced before January.

The next step in the complex process, a round of runoffs between more than 100 individual candidates competing in the first round for around 50 seats, is set for Monday and Tuesday.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Egypt votes nearly a year after revolution

  1. Transcript of: Egypt votes nearly a year after revolution

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: And now we turn to Egypt , where this is a history-making day, the first election day since Mubarak fell. And tonight our chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel , is in Cairo , where there may be reason for the US to be worried about the outcome of this vote.

    RICHARD ENGEL reporting: With every vote cast, every finger dipped in ink, Egypt today moved closer to democracy.

    Unidentified Woman #1: For the first time we feel that we can really make a difference.

    ENGEL: Four thousand candidates are running for parliament from more than 40 political parties. Voting stations so crowded, soldiers had to keep order. But voting was largely peaceful. It didn't seem possible even a week ago when protesters clashed with security forces. Tonight those protesters stayed in Tahrir Square , boycotting the vote, saying it's not democratic enough, that the military still has too much power.

    Unidentified Man #1: I don't trust in this elections.

    ENGEL: But the boycott could benefit their main opponent, Egypt 's Muslim Brotherhood , banned under Mubarak . At one of Cairo 's busiest polling centers, most people told us they support the brotherhood.

    Unidentified Man #2: The most organized party in Egypt and make good deeds for the people here.

    ENGEL: Do you think Americans should be worried about the Muslim Brotherhood ?

    Unidentified Woman #2: No, no. Why?

    ENGEL: Because people in the US think maybe they're extremists, they want to change Egypt into a Islamic state .

    Woman #2: They want -- they must have a chance. They must have a chance.

    ENGEL: The brotherhood is powerful, rich, often anti-American and definitely anti- Israel . The group is taking advantage of this opportunity, handing out leaflets as voters go to the polls and recording exit polls on laptops, the only party we saw doing that. This democratic transition may be flawed, but the Muslim Brotherhood isn't letting that get in its way. Elections will be taking place here, Brian , over the next several months, but the potential political fallout could be severe. Egypt has long been a close and reliable US partner in the Middle East . That could be changing.

    WILLIAMS: Richard Engel watching it all tonight in Cairo . Richard , thanks

Photos: Elections in Egypt

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  1. Election officials count ballots for the parliamentary elections in Cairo, Egypt, on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011. Egypt is holding its first parliamentary elections since longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising in February. The vote is a milestone many Egyptians hope will usher in a democratic age after decades of dictatorship. (Amr Nabil / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. An election official classifies votes for the parliamentary elections at a counting center in Cairo on Nov. 30. The head of the election commission proclaimed that the turnout so far is 'massive and unexpected'. (Amr Nabil / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A man smokes a waterpipe while reading news on his tablet as a TV channel broadcasts live election coverage at a cafe in the Zeitun neighborhood of Cairo on Nov. 30. (Odd Andersen / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Electoral workers count ballots after voting closed at a counting center in Cairo on Nov. 29. (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A policeman stands guard as election officials collect ballot boxes from a polling station near Tahrir Square at the end of the voting day in Cairo on Nov. 29. (Odd Andersen / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Two women are seen in voting booths on the second day of parliamentary elections in Cairo on Nov. 29. (Ahmed Ali / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Coptic Christian women help voters find their registration numbers outside a polling station in the Manshiet Nasser district of Cairo on Nov. 29. (Mahmud Hams / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A soldier takes a picture at a polling station in the Cairo neighborhood of Shubra on Nov. 29. (Mohammed Hossam / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A woman casts her vote at a polling station during the second day of parliamentary elections in Alexandria on Nov. 29. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A boy uses a megaphone to support a candidate outside a polling station in Cairo on Nov. 29. There were numerous reports of election violations by party activists, most over campaigning close to polling sites while voting was under way. (Amr Nabil / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A solider gestures as a lady helps an elderly woman at the entrance to a polling station in Alexandria on Nov. 29. Long lines formed at polling stations for a second day of voting Tuesday and the head of the election commission, Abdel-Mooaez Ibrahim, proclaimed turnout so far had been "massive and unexpected." (Tarek Fawzy / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Election officials wait for voters inside a polling station in Old Cairo on the second day of voting on Nov. 29. 45 million Egyptians are eligible to vote in the first round of six. The complicated process will take four months to conclude. Presidential elections are expected to be held in 2012. (Peter MacDiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri waves to voters on the first day of parliamentary elections in Cairo on Nov. 28. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A woman waits in front of election posters after voting in Cairo on Nov. 28. (Bela Szandelszky / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. People line up outside a polling station in Cairo on Nov. 28. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. An Egyptian woman reads a ballot before casting her vote during parliamentary elections in Cairo on Nov. 28. (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A voter shows her inked finger after voting at a girls' school on Nov. 28 in Cairo. (Peter MacDiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. People wait outside a polling station to vote in parliamentary elections in Cairo on Nov. 28. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Soldiers maintain order as people wait outside a polling station in Alexandria on Nov. 28. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Tahrir Square is occupied by only a few hundred protesters on election day on Nov. 28 in Cairo. (Peter MacDiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. A voter reads a ballot at a polling station in Cairo on Nov. 28. (Peter MacDiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Egyptian women wait behind the door of a polling station in Cairo on Nov. 28. (Bela Szandelszky / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: Election officials count ballots for the parliamentary elections in Cairo, Egypt.
    Amr Nabil / AP
    Above: Slideshow (22) Elections in Egypt
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