Islamists See Big Losses in Moroccan Parliamentary Elections

3:13 PM Aida Alami 0 Comments

 


Morocco’s moderate Islamist party suffered major losses in parliamentary elections on Wednesday, a stinging setback in one of the last countries where Islamists had risen to power after the Arab Spring protests.

Moroccans cast ballots in legislative, municipal and regional races, the first such votes in the country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite turnout figures showing nearly half of Moroccans didn’t cast a ballot, the results were clear: The Justice and Development Party, the moderate Islamists known as the PJD, who have held power since 2011, faced steep losses up and down the ballot — enough to lose control of Parliament.

With most of the votes counted, the winners included the National Rally of Independents (with 97 seats, according to the Interior Ministry) and the conservative Istiqlal party, both seen as closely aligned with the monarchy. The PJD had 12, according to early results.

Any changing of the guard, however, is unlikely to herald major policy shifts in a country where the royal palace has long been in command. While Morocco is officially a constitutional monarchy, its Parliament lacks the power to overrule the will of Mohammed VI, said Saloua Zerhouni, a political science professor in the capital, Rabat.

“The monarchy will continue to control political parties, undermine the powers of government and the Parliament, and position itself as the sole effective political institution,” Ms. Zerhouni said.

But the result did show one thing: the diminishing space that Islamists now find for themselves in the Middle East and North Africa.

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