Cairo: Egypt's Islamists, including the liberal Brotherhood and radical Salafists, have surged ahead in the first round of parliamentary polls, together pocketing 65 percent of the vote and relegating the secular parties to the periphery of the country's new political landscape.

Muslim Brotherhood's new Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) received roughly 40 percent of the vote and the main Salafist Al-Nur party between 20 and 25 percent, the state media reported on Sunday.

The main liberal coalition, the Egyptian Bloc, won only 15 percent of the vote, a development though not completely unexpected, has somewhat alarmed the country's minorities, mainly the Coptic Christians who comprise an estimated 10 percent of the population.

Though the first round saw just one-third of Egypt's constituencies go to polls but the results give an ample indication of the how the new parliament would look like.

Egyptians will return to the elections on Monday for run-offs from the first round of the polls, whose final outcome will not be known until other parts of the country vote in two more rounds. The process will not be complete until January 11.

Egypt's oldest political movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, has tried hard to stress itself as a moderate and pragmatic group, distinct from the Al Nur party, the ultra Conservatives who want to impose Islamic law.

The deputy head of the FJP, Essam el-Erian, has reassured Egyptians that the party would not impose Islamic values on Egypt, and would not encroach upon personal freedoms.

In a statement, the Brotherhood called upon "everyone, and all those who associate themselves with democracy, to respect the will of the people and accept their choice".

The vote drew an official turnout of 62 percent, described as "the highest since pharonic times".

"Those who weren't successful ... should work hard to serve people to win their support next time," the Brotherhood said.

Most candidates will have to go through to two further rounds of voting over the next six weeks. The BBC described the elections as "arguably the first fully free and fair election in Egyptian history".

"This is the first chance to see the strength of the Islamists, who look likely to win at least half of the seats in the new Parliament. There are two very different sets of Islamists, and it is not at all certain that they will work together," it said.

By contrast, the Salafists, who could take second place, have made no bones about their hardline views. They have indicated they want to ban alcohol, segregate men and women, and impose full Shariah Law.

The Salafists call for a return to the way Islam was practised during the time of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, in the 7th Century.

The Brotherhood - which led the opposition to Hosni Mubarak during his 30 years in power - was until this year officially banned. In practice, it was tolerated as long as it remained at the margins of politics.

Its rivals accused the FJP of handing out food and medicine as a way of winning votes.

The voting on November 28 and 29 covered nine out of 27 provinces, which will elect about 30 percent of the 498-seat lower house of Parliament.

Two further rounds are scheduled over the next six weeks. The upper house will then be elected in another three stages.

(Agencies)