Islamists swept to victory in the first stage of Egypt's parliamentary elections and look set to win a second [Reuters]

Turnout in the second round of voting in Egypt's parliamentary elections has reached 67 per cent, with most constituencies expecting runoff votes, according to elections officials.

More than 12 million citizens cast their ballots on Wednesday and Thursday in nine of the country's 27 provinces.

The turnout was higher than that of the first round, in November, estimated by the High Elections Commission at 60 per cent. A final round, with the remaining nine provinces, has been set for January.

The head of the commission, Abdel Moez Ibrahim, said that there were fewer irregularities than in the first round. "The negative aspects declined, which means we are moving forward," Ibrahim told a press conference in Cairo on Sunday.

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The three-stage vote is Egypt's first since former president Hosni Mubarak was deposed in February. There will be a runoff in most of the constituencies next Wednesday, as very few candidates got over 51 per cent of the votes.

Voters will choose between the two candidates who got the highest number of votes in the first round.

Two-thirds of the new parliament's 498 seats are allocated to parties, with the remainder earmarked for independent candidates.

Official results of the party lists were postponed until the end of voting. However, preliminary results showed that Islamist parties were leading the vote count in the second round.

As in the first round, the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the influential Muslim Brotherhood, was ahead in most of the nine province.

The runner-up is Al-Nour, a Salafist party, the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported, without giving figures. The two parties have made big gains over a liberal alliance known as the Egyptian Bloc.

Full results from all three rounds are due to be announced by mid-January. Three other rounds from late January until March will be held to elect the less powerful upper house of parliament.

Source: Agencies