It has been said that the transition of power is the weakest part of democracy. If developments surrounding Egypt's recent parliamentary elections are any indication, the same might also be true -- at least in some paradoxical sense -- for authoritarian governments.
Outside analysts generally agree that the country's Nov. 28 elections were wracked by widespread fraud and poll-rigging, resulting in a nearly across-the-board victory for President Hosni Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). However, as the nation's crippled opposition now bands together to form a "shadow parliament," the extent to which the ruling party will be able to use the elections' result to avoid internal political upheaval is less clear.
At the center of the unrest is Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which prior to the elections represented the largest opposition bloc. While technically banned in Egypt, brotherhood members had run as independents in the country's last parliamentary elections in 2005, and held 88 seats, or roughly 20 percent of the parliament, going into these elections.