The Muslim Brotherhood's political party -- the Freedom and Justice Party -- claimed a substantial victory in the run-off vote for Egypt's parliamentary elections.

The Brotherhood claimed 36 of the 56 individual seats up for grabs, including those representing Egypt's largest cities, Cairo and Alexandria, according to a statement from the group.

Hearing concerns about a ruling Islamist party from across the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, the Muslim Brother's chairman, Mohamed Badie, addressed the West on Tuesday to say that the party had no agenda other than building a new, democratic government.

There is nothing in Islam called a religious state because Islam has a civilian nature, he said.Our project is not the Islamization of Egypt because Egypt already is a Muslim country.

The vote last week was the first of three rounds of voting for the lower house of parliament. The final vote will take place early next month, and the Muslim Brotherhood is projected to claim about 40 percent of the legislature.

Despite the majority, it is still premature to speculate on what the Brotherhood's role will be in Egypt's political future. The lower house's first task is to draft a constitution, and Freedom and Justice members will make up a significant part of that committee, but there is still no telling how influential the constitution, the parliament or even a new president will be.

Much depends on whether or not the ruling Supreme Council on Armed Forces (SCAF) will give up power as promised. Although it has been slow to give up any of its authoritative control, the SCAF took some important steps on Wednesday that suggest a positive picture of what's to come.

The 20-member military council led by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi granted Egypt's acting prime minister, Kamal el-Ganzouri, all of the presidential powers it currently retains. There were few specific details offered, but Ganzouri has appointed his new interior minister and will soon fill out the rest of his cabinet.

There are some predicable exceptions to Ganzouri's new reach, and he is not allowed to touch anything concerning the judiciary and armed forces, he said at a press conference on Tuesday night.

Despite the changes, many activists said that the new civilian concessions were poorly-veiled attempts to appease a restive public.

They're taking advantage of the reduced momentum in Tahrir Square, Shadi Al Ghazali Harb, a member of the Revolutionary Youth Coalition, told the Wall Street Journal. It's a worthless announcement. They're giving authority to a person they fully control and refuse to give it to a revolutionary leader whom they can't control.

Ganzouri was appointed by the SCAF in November after the prime minister and his cabinet resigned following four days of violent protests and riots that resulted in 40 deaths.