The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest Islamic group, more than doubled its legislative representation in runoff parliamentary elections, according to initial results announced Wednesday.
The Brotherhood, which was founded in 1928 and has been banned since 1954, had won 34 seats after a first-round runoff vote Tuesday, and the ruling National Democratic Party about 70 seats. The results were reported by the semiofficial Middle East News Agency, quoting judges in counting stations.
The result was "a shock," said Abdel Gelil Sharnoubi, editor of the Brotherhood's Web site. "I'm now praying to God to protect us from future government wrath."
As a banned organization, the Brotherhood is not allowed to run as a political party, but it fields candidates who run as independents. It had 15 members in the outgoing parliament.
The group calls for implementing Islamic law but has long been vague about what this means. Its members are conservative -- advocating that women wear the veil and campaigning against perceived immorality in the media, for example -- but have presented themselves as advocates of democratic reform.
The government generally tolerates the group, which renounced violence in the 1970s, but hundreds of members have been detained in recent months during a period of increased protests against President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's leader for 24 years.
The ruling party was not expected to lose its long-held majority in the 454-seat parliament. Its tally would probably rise, because many of the 50 independents who won Tuesday are former party members who failed to win the party's nomination. Such independents usually rejoin the party at the end of the elections.
Other opposition parties and groups won eight seats, the Middle East News Agency reported.
The runoffs, which were marred by scattered violence and allegations of fraud, were called to decide 133 races in which no candidate won more than half the vote in Nov. 9 polls. In the seats decided Nov. 9, the ruling party won 26, the Brotherhood four and an independent one.
The Brotherhood is fielding about 100 candidates in the second and third rounds of the elections, scheduled for Sunday and Dec. 1.