Despite its capture of the majority of seats in Egypt's last parliamentary polls and its growing presence in state institutions, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood lost the majority of seats to secular political forces in recently-concluded Egyptian Pharmacists Syndicate elections.
On Friday 22 March, 42 candidates vied for 12 of the 24 seats on the syndicate's general council.
The elections were contested by three major lists: the Muslim Brotherhood's Egyptian Pharmacists Coalition; the Professional Pharmacists Coalition (backed by secular parties, including the Free Egyptians and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party); and the Independent Pharmacists List.
According to preliminary results, the Professional Pharmacists Coalition won ten of the 12 seats contested, while the Brotherhood's list picked up the remaining two seats.
The results represented a striking contrast to the Islamist group's sweeping electoral victories in recent years.
The Independent Pharmacists List, meanwhile, failed to capture a single seat.
Preliminary indications suggest that 10,688 out of the 84,000 eligible voters cast ballots in the election, representing a turnout rate of only 12 percent, according to Egyptian Pharmacists Syndicate Under-Secretary Seif Allah Imam.
Imam attributed the low turnout to adverse weather conditions and a recent spate of political violence.
He pointed out that the new 24-member council would be formed upon announcement of final polling results on Friday of next week.
The Islamist group's poor performance comes only days after it lost a sizable percentage of seats in student union elections at Egyptian universities. In these contests, too, the Brotherhood lost to electoral lists affiliated with liberal and leftist parties.
The student elections saw most votes go to independent students with no political affiliation. Muslim Brotherhood candidates followed the independents, followed in turn by politically affiliated students.
Similarly, the strong performance of opposition candidates in last week's Egyptian Journalists Syndicate elections – including that for syndicate chairman – suggest that the Brotherhood's popularity may be in decline.