Morocco: Moderate Islamist PJD party claims victory in parliamentary elections


Morocco King Mohammed VI leaves a polling booth to vote in a referendum on curbing his near absolute powers on July 1, 2011 in Rabat. The King has offered reforms following protests inspired by pro-democracy uprisings around the Arab world.


Abdelhak Senna

A moderate Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party (PJD), has claimed victory in parliamentary elections in Morocco.

Provisional results Saturday showed the PJD had won 80 out of 395 seats, the BBC reported, which would make it the biggest party in parliament and give it the right to lead a government.

The figures indicate that the PJD will lead a coalition government with the nationalist Istiqlal party and two others, said Reuters.

Istiqlal won 45 seats, making it the second-largest party, Interior Minister Taib Cherkaoui announced at a press conference.

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He was speaking when votes had been counted for two-thirds of seats, the Associated Press said. The full count will be announced on Sunday.

With Istiqlal and the two other parties who have said they are willing to join a coalition, the PJD-led bloc will have a total of 170 seats in parliament, just short of a majority.

A rival coalition of eight liberal parties with ties to the monarchy has just 112 seats so far.

Reuters describes the PJD as a moderate opposition group:

The party has said it will promote Islamic finance though it will steer clear of imposing a strict moral code on society and is loyal to the monarch.

In response to anti-government protests, Morocco adopted a new constitution in July which states that King Mohamed VI must appoint the country's prime minister from the party with the most parliamentary seats. Previously the monarch was free to appoint whomever he chose.

The king retains the final say on matters of defense, security and religion, however, the BBC said.

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Around 45.4% of Morocco's 13.5 million voters took part in the vote, according to the Interior Ministry.

Activists with the "February 20" movement behind the protests earlier this year had called on their supporters to boycott the movement. Spokesperson Najib Chawki told Reuters the low turnout shows that Moroccans are not convinced by the government's proposed reforms.

The group has called for fresh protests on December 4.