With ballot counting underway in Egypt after two days of historic voting to choose the country's first democratically elected president, indications point to a direct electoral showdown between the country's old and new political forces.

"The overwhelming majority of the Egyptian people voted for the revolution. It is just that this vote is divided by seven. It is divided by the multiple presidential candidates who represent one or more segments of the revolution."

- Omar Ashour, the director of Middle East studies at Exeter University

The candidate of the once outlawed Muslim Brotherhood appears likely to face Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister in a run-off election to decide who will be president.

The Muslim Brotherhood claim their candidate, Mohamed Morsi, is leading the first round.

Among his rivals are Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force general who briefly served as Mubarak's last prime minister. Presenting himself as a strong opponent of the rising role of religious parties in politics, he is popularly believed to be the favoured candidate of the ruling military.

Still not out of the race are secular socialist Hamdeen Sabahi and early campaign frontrunner Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh.

With no candidate expected to get an absolute majority in the first round, there is likely to be a run-off election in June.

"The results of this election give a very strong warning to the Muslim Brotherhood that, yes, the map can change, powers can change, the alignment of those you saw as allies one day can definitely change."

- Ahmed El Nashar, a political activist

So, with almost 50 per cent of those eligible to vote said to have taken part, who have the majority voted for?

Is the battle between the Egyptian old guard and those who fought it for decades still continuing? And what has happened to a revolution that promised to strip away all remnants of what many regarded as the oppressive Mubarak regime?

To what extent do these preliminary results reveal a country bitterly divided? Are the major forces in Egyptian society coming up against each other?

In this special edition of Inside Story from Cairo, presenter Mike Hanna is joined by: Amira Howeidy, the assistant editor of Al-Ahram Weekly; Ahmed El Nashar, a political activist and member of several revolutionary groups; and Omar Ashour, the director of Middle East studies at Exeter University.

Source: Al Jazeera