As results of student union elections in Egyptian universities unfold after polling began Monday, a noticeable decline in the Muslim Brotherhood's popularity is evident in a vast majority of faculties, says the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), currently monitoring the nationwide elections.
AFTE's first report says the Muslim Brotherhood lost a large percentage of seats to electoral lists affiliated with liberal and leftist parties, some with an Islamist leaning like the Strong Egypt Party led by ex-Brotherhood former presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh.
Results so far show almost complete failure by Salafist lists. Meanwhile, some faculties showed a zero vote for both Muslim Brotherhood affiliated lists and Salafists.
The first stage of elections includes the universities of Alexandria, Ain Shams, Tanta, Benha, Munufiya, Beni Suef and Menya.
Some nine out of 18 faculties counted in Alexandria University showed a 56.4 percent vote for "civil" political currents, according to AFTE, while the Muslim Brotherhood garnered 21.63 percent and other independent groups scored 20.08 percent of seats.
Salafists gained a meager 0.52 percent in the nine faculties counted so far.
In Menya University, the results of 13 out of 17 faculties saw the non-Islamist list, including students from the 6 April Youth Movement, the liberal Constitution Party, the leftist leaning Egyptian Popular Current, and others, take 61.58 percent of the seats, versus 29.8 percent for the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist affiliated list.
In Banha University, AFTE said, students from "different political parties and independents achieved a sweeping victory compared to a noticeable decline for the Muslim Brotherhood," counting no votes for the group in six faculties, including the faculties of commerce, sciences and humanities.
First vote of its kind
The current elections are the first to be carried out under new bylaws drafted by the Egyptian Student Union after decades of being carried out by state-sponsored bylaws that were under the watch and direction of the State Security apparatus.
The current bylaws, however, were attacked by a large number of university students who said they were approved behind closed doors by the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Egyptian Student Union (ESU) elected in 2012.
That the current bylaws were written by the Brotherhood shows the extent of their declining popularity among university students, says Emad Mubarak, director of AFTE.
"The fact that the bylaws written by Muslim Brotherhood students are leading to their loss in comparison to students with different political affiliations is an indicator of their falling popularity," Mubarak told Ahram Online.
Mubarak believes the new ESU, the body which represents student unions from across Egypt, will have a more balanced make up after its next election.
Indicative of what is to come?
Egypt's government slated for April legislative elections to elect a new House of Representatives (formerly the People's Assembly), parliament's lower house.
Egypt's last lower house of parliament was dominated by Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist MPs who garnered approximately 70 percent of its seats. This People's Assembly was dissolved by court order that ruled the law governing its election unconstitutional.
Since the second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution on 25 January, intensive anti-government protests are ongoing around the country, and especially in the city of Port Said, near the Suez Canal, which is seeing open civil disobedience against perceived marginalisation by the government.
Protesters say the government and the Muslim Brotherhood (perceived as directing government and President Mohamed Morsi behind the scenes) have failed to achieve revolutionary goals focused on social justice and freedoms.
The Brotherhood is also under fire for its attempts to take over — or "Brotherhoodise" — the state at all levels, while keeping intact ousted president Hosni Mubarak's repressive security apparatus.