|Nine of Egypt's 27 governorates went to the polls this week and full results will not be known until January [Reuters]
Egypt's election commission has again delayed the release of results of the opening stage of the country's first polls, saying counting was still taking place.
The results, which had already been pushed back from Wednesday evening until Thursday, will now be released on Friday, the official MENA news agency quoted chief electoral official Abdel Moez Ibrahim as saying.
The delay was necessary "as the counting of votes is still going on in a number of districts because of the large number of voters who took part in these elections," said Ibrahim.
The vote on Monday and Tuesday in Cairo and Alexandria and other areas was the first of three stages when voters from nine of the country's 27 governorates went to the polls to elect a new lower house of parliament.
The rest of the country follows next month and in January.
Results for the party list seats, which make up two-thirds of the People's Assembly, will not be available until January.
Unofficial numbers have begun to leak out, though, mostly from sources within the parties.
A source in the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, said on Wednesday that it had won roughly 40 per cent of the vote, according to its own exit polls.
The best results came in Fayoum governorate, south of Cairo; the source also said the FJP polled well in Cairo, Assiut and Red Sea governorates.
The party's toughest competition was in Alexandria and Kafr al-Sheikh governorates, where al-Nour, a Salafi party, reportedly performed well.
The FJP is nominally a part of the Democratic Alliance, but the bloc's other members are mostly small and unknown; FJP candidates comprise 70 per cent of the alliance's candidates in party list districts, and 90 per cent in individual districts.
Strong showing predicted
Basil Adel, a member of the Egyptian Bloc, also predicted a strong showing for Islamists: He told Reuters that the Democratic Alliance had won between 40 and 50 per cent of the vote, and predicted a 5-to-7-per cent showing for the Nour party.
Adel said his own bloc, the main liberal alliance in Egypt, secured between 20 and 30 per cent of votes counted so far in Cairo.
Diaa Rashwan, the head of the Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, told Egypt's state-run Al-Ahram newspaper that Islamist parties - including the FJP, Nour, and several other smaller parties - could collectively win 65 per cent of seats in the first round of voting.
Analysts had predicted a strong showing for the FJP, which is by far the best-organised political party in Egypt.
It fielded thousands of volunteers on election day to help voters at polling stations; many of them were accused of handing out flyers and doing other last-minute campaigning, which is illegal under Egyptian law.
Elections for the lower house of parliament will continue in two more stages over the next five weeks, with ballots on December 14 and January 3.