MON 17 - 6 - 2019
Date: Sep 7, 2015
Source: The Daily Star

Folder: Elections
Morocco’s Islamists win key posts in polls
RABAT: Morocco’s Islamists won most of the country’s key cities during Friday’s local elections, further expanding its reach after four years of leading a coalition government that undertook fiscal reforms. The Justice and Development Party, known by its French acronym PJD, came to power on an anti-corruption ticket in 2011, tapping into a desire for greater freedom when “Arab Spring” protests forced King Mohammad to devolve some powers.
For the first time in its history, the PJD Friday won control of all of Morocco’s major cities including the capital Rabat, Casablanca, Tangier, Fez, Marrakesh and Agadir.
Meanwhile, its rivals fielded more candidates and performed more strongly in rural areas.
Election results showed the PJD won 5,021 local or 174 regional assembly seats just behind rivals Authenticity and Modernity Party, or PAM, with 6,655 local and 132 regional seats and conservative Independence Party with 5,106 local and 119 regional seats.
The PJD has long portrayed itself as a fighter against the old guard that has controlled Morocco’s politics and economy since it gained independence from France in 1956.
During its years in power, the PJD-led coalition made structural reform, in particular in the realm of public finance, a priority; cutting Morocco’s budget deficit; undertaking the reform of a cumbersome subsidy system; and freezing public sector jobs.
“We started more than 20 years ago and we have integrated into society and our environment gradually,” PJD leader Abdelilah Benkirane told the press late Friday.
“With opposition, we are just like the ant and grasshopper, we work and they sing.”
When pro-democracy uprisings erupted across the Arab world in 2011, Morocco managed to calm protests by carrying out limited reforms but the palace still retains ultimate authority.
The PJD’s other partners in the coalition, such as the center-right National Rally of Independents (RNI) and the Popular movement (MP), are closer to a royal establishment ill at ease at sharing power with Islamists.
Among their notable gains, the Islamists managed to take Fez, a bastion of the Independence Party and its populist leader Hamid Chabat, who left the ruling coalition in 2013 and contested the PJD’s economic policies.
Unlike their counterparts elsewhere around the region, Morocco’s Islamists have played down religious issues in their campaigns and preferred to focus on combatting corruption and unemployment.
The party has preserved its popularity despite implementing austerity measures and cutting energy subsidies to reduce the budget deficit.
“Since 1960, for the first time a key party wins elections in the big cities,” Maati Monjib, a historian and political scientist in the university of Rabat said.
“Although the PJD was against the Arab Spring protests, they have taken advantage of it by presenting themselves as opponents from inside the system.”
Benkirane’s party also managed to hold off a greater challenge from its fiercest adversary, the PAM. That group was created in 2008 by a close friend and adviser of the king, Fouad Ali el-Himma, to counter the PJD.
Turnout Friday was 53.67 percent almost the same as in the last local elections in 2009.

Readers Comments (0)
Add your comment

Enter the security code below*

 Can't read this? Try Another.
Related News
Morocco adopts law confirming Berber as official language
Morocco court adjorns trial in murder of Scandinavian hikers
Dozens wounded as police break up Morocco teacher protest
Thousands protest in Morocco demanding release of jailed activists
Morocco sentences Swiss man to 10 years in jail for 'terrorism'
Related Articles
Morocco’s Party of Authenticity and Modernity under pressure
Morocco, Western Sahara issue back at AU
Record gains for Morocco’s Islamist party usher in new political era
It’s truth time for Morocco’s Islamists
Moroccan parties display a new mood
Copyright 2019 . All rights reserved