CAIRO, Egypt “” Egyptian voters overwhelming approved a referendum on constitutional changes that will usher in rapid elections, with the results announced Sunday underscoring the strength of established political organizations and the weakness of the nascent liberal groups.
More than 14.1 million voters approved the constitutional amendments while 4 million voted against them. The turnout of 41 percent among the 45 million eligible voters broke all records for recent elections, according to the Egyptian government….
President Hosni Mubarak was forced from power last month, 18 days after demonstrations began on Jan 25 against his nearly three decades in power. The result of the referendum paves the way for early legislative elections in June and a presidential race in August. That is the rapid timetable that the ruling military council had sought in order to insure its own speedy exit from running the country.
The Muslim Brotherhood and remnant elements of the National Democratic Party, which dominated Egyptian politics for decades, were the main supporters of the referendum. They said their position was to insure the swift return to civilian rule.
The liberal wing of Egyptian politics was heavily against the measure, saying they did not have enough time to organize into effective political organizations. They said early elections will benefit the brotherhood and the old ruling party, mean their dominance of the next parliament will mean it will write a constitution much like the old one….