CAIRO - Four were killed Friday after clashes erupted between police and protesters on the second anniversary of the uprising that ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak.
The deaths occurred in Suez Canal city, Egypt's official news agency said, as protesters marched across Cairo in outrage over unfulfilled demands for reform and calling for change.
"We're not celebrating, because the goals of the revolution have not been achieved: bread, social justice and dignity," said Naglaa Marzouk, a teacher, standing in Tahrir Square, where the revolution began.
"This is the youth, who I am looking toward," she said, pointing to a young man who complained of no work and high unemployment. "This is the future of Egypt."
Amid widespread frustration over a troubled state, the opposition has a chance to urge Egyptians to fight for reform at the polls. Protesters on Friday spoke of a difficult, autocratic regime - this time of President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected leader, who took office in June.
But the opposition faces numerous challenges in trying to shift their struggle from the street and win enough votes to upstage the Islamists in an upcoming parliamentary poll, anticipated in April.
"The major challenge for the opposition now is the following: Certainly the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood has declined," said Mazen Hassan, a political science lecturer at Cairo University. "So they need to make the necessary effort to capture these angry voters and get them on their side. That requires a lot of work."
Opposition figures were behind the initial protests that led to the toppling of Mubarak and his regime, but have largely been fractured and politically disorganized in the years that have followed. The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 and long organized in Egypt, was the only group politically prepared to exploit the opportunities presented by the uprising, said Robert Danin, Egypt expert at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C.
"So as a result, I don't think that you have fully representative government in Egypt," Danin said.
But the opposition will challenge the Brotherhood in the upcoming election more than they have in previous polls, analyst Hassan predicted.
"Mainly that is due to, of course, the huge mistakes that the Muslim Brotherhood have made," he said. "They're actually paying for the cost of governing, being in government, and making decisions that many people see as bad decisions."
Egyptians complain of inflation, traffic jams, weakened security, deteriorating infrastructure and a struggling economy. Tourism - a major livelihood here - has yet to fully return.
"People who voted for Morsi are against him now because he doesn't do anything for the citizens," said Hamdy Ghonim, a taxi driver and tour guide who backed the Brotherhood and Morsi in last year's presidential vote but no longer supports the group. "Our situation gets worse and worse."
Part of the opposition's fight revolves around desires for reform and a range of personal freedoms, and many fear a "Brotherhoodization" of Egypt in which the Islamist group that is backing Morsi tries to fill a wide range of key government positions across the country.
"We are demonstrating to celebrate the two-year anniversary of the Egyptian revolution and to tell the government, and the people and the whole world, that we are not few," said Mohamed Abou El Ghar, president of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and a leader in the National Salvation Front, the main coalition of opposition groups.
"And we want to tell Morsi that we are not happy about what he is doing, particularly in changing the face of Egypt."
Three months leading up to the parliamentary vote, the opposition seems more united than they've been throughout much of the past two years, which analysts said could help them at the polls. Last November, President Morsi issued a constitutional decree that gave him sweeping powers, sidelined the judiciary, and allowed for the completion of a new constitution. Morsi's camp conveyed the move as vital to protect democratic institutions.
But the opposition united against the power grab and formed the National Salvation Front, uniting secular, liberal and leftist groups as well as journalists, revolutionaries, activists, and some old regime loyalists.
"There is a willingness to unite to bring down the Islamists," said Abdel Maged El Mehelmy, on the steering committee of the National Committee for Chance, which is part of the opposition coalition. "But it's a tough struggle. It's not going to be easy."
The Muslim Brotherhood garners support through charity work, has a committed core and is known for its far-reaching campaigns that require tremendous mobilization.
"They are a very popular and strong, organized group," said Ahmed Hassan, who supports the Brotherhood and thinks no one can beat them in elections. "They can help the people, and people trust them."
Hard-line candidates who support strict Islamic law will also draw a lot of support in a nation that is deeply religious. And the opposition needs to urge independent candidates not to run so votes aren't taken away from the opposition, activists said.
Among other challenges, serious fractures in the opposition already show: There is dispute over whether or not to even participate in the upcoming vote.
"Some people say we should boycott, and other factions say we should participate no matter what," El Mehelmy said. "They haven't made a decision yet."
Just days before a December vote on what is now the nation's new constitution, the opposition was in a similar jam, affording them little time to campaign after deciding to oppose the draft charter. The outcome of last year's presidential election might have looked different if non-Islamists rallied around fewer candidates, consolidating votes.
Opposition activists said they learned lessons from the past, although even they acknowledge the challenges.
"Everybody agrees that (uniting) is a must and the one who (breaks away) is going to lose," Abou El Ghar said. "But the idea of how to fight the political regime in Egypt differs from one group to another."