U.S. on Egypt Vote: Religious Parties Can Still Maintain Democratic Principles

President Obama interested in principles, not specific parties, White House official says, lauding democratic process taking place in Egypt.

The White House lauded the democratic process taking place with Egypt's first elections since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak on Monday, saying that it would be "unfair" to assume that religious parties cannot adhere to democratic values.

Egyptian parliamentary elections, which began on Monday, may herald a significant strengthening of Islamist factions in Egypt's legislature, a fact which has brought some to fear the possible repercussions on Israel's peace treaty with the country.

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Speaking earlier Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he didn't "expect Israel to have the same intimacy with the next Egyptian regime," adding that Israel's security interests couldn’t rely "solely on the peace treaty, because that treaty could come undone."

However, responding to the possible negative effect the rise of such parties as the Muslim Brotherhood may have on Egypt's attempts to democratize, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama indicated that it was "unfair to assume that any party that has a religious affiliation cannot adhere to democratic principles."

"It's simply not the case and hasn't been borne out by the facts," White House spokesman Jay Carney said, adding that the United States couldn't "judge the disposition of a government or a parliament that's only just beginning to take shape through elections that have started today."

"I think we need to let the process run its course, continue to espouse our firm support for democratic principles and for civilian control of the government, and then judge the outcome by the actions of those who prevail," Carney said.

The White House official also complimented Egypt on the way elections have been run on Monday, saying that it was his "understanding that the elections have gone well, and we welcome that development."

"The fact of the matter is, the democratic process is what's important. Principles matter to this president, not parties. And we hold whatever party prevails or is represented in the outcome of an election like this, whether it's in Egypt or elsewhere - our standards have to do with respect for human rights, respect for the democratic process, renunciation of violence, and inclusion of and respect for minorities in the process," he added.

Also commenting on the Egyptian parliamentary vote, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said that the high turnout in the elections and lack of violence "speak to the success of this first day".

"We have independent U.S. witness delegations that are in Egypt, they come from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, as well as the Carter Center at Emory University, and then of course the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute," Toner said, adding: "They're spread out in various neighborhoods and parts of the country observing. What they've been able to see so far has been quite positive."