Islamic parties on the rise
The rise of Islamic parties seems to be an outcome of early this year's Arab Spring and the fall of authoritarian regimes across North Africa. They have made a good showing in recent elections in Tunisia and Morocco, and the convincing victory of the Muslim Brotherhood followed by the hardline Al Nour bloc grabbing almost a quarter of the votes in the first round of Egypt's first parliamentary polls since the fall of Hosni Mubarak are noteworthy. A similar phenomenon may now be expected, not only in Libya, which is also rising on its feet following the toppling of the Qaddafi regime, but also in Yemen and Syria.
So far, victory lies with some groups based on the Turkish model, but fears of more hardline groups edging their way in are rife, with the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton already warning that Islamist gains must not set back democracy in Egypt. But the people have only spoken against the totalitarian regime. While the phenomenon is seemingly new, its roots lie in years of autocratic rule in these countries which have failed to serve the people's needs, especially in the area of human rights and freedoms, and the Islamist parties, hitherto banned and persecuted, now seem the only promising alternative to the people who have toppled the despotic regimes.
Whether the moderate or hardline groups ultimately take and remain in power will determine the future of democracy not only in these countries but could also have repercussions across the world.