Morocco Votes for New Parliament in First Election Since New Constitution; Turnout Up More Than 20 percent
PJD takes lead in seats; US, UK, France, Others Praise Vote as ‘Important Milestone’ for Peaceful Change in Region
Washington, DC (Nov. 26) — Moroccans voted yesterday in the country‟s first Parliamentary election since recent Constitutional reforms that increased the power of Morocco’s Parliament. Voters chose from among 5,873 candidates and 33 different parties to fill 395 seats. Seventy seats were set aside for younger adult and women members to ensure Parliament includes new faces reflecting the nation‟s changing population.
With 288 of 305 local constituent seats decided, provisional results show the Justice and Development party (PJD) won 80, Independence party won 45, National Rally for Independents (RNI) won 38, Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) won 33, Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) won 29, Popular Movement (MP) won 22, Constitutional Union (UC) won 15, and Progress and Socialism Party (PPS) won 11. Under the new Constitution, the head of government is to be appointed from the party with the most seats. Early results indicate a coalition government will emerge with PJD likely in the lead.
Despite some calls to boycott the election, provisional results show 45.4 percent of Morocco’s 13.6 million registered voters participated, an increase of 21.6 percent over the previous parliamentary election in 2007. Almost 4,000 national and international observers oversaw the election.
The international community strongly commended Morocco’s continuing reforms.
The “United States supports Morocco’s efforts to promote ongoing democratic development through constitutional, judicial, and political reforms,” said Andy Halus, Deputy Spokesperson, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, State Department. “The full implementation of the new Constitution,” he said, is “a step toward the fulfillment of the aspirations and rights of all Moroccans.”
“Along with reforms already being carried out and recent constitutional change, Friday‟s election reinforces Morocco‟s reputation as a leader” in the region, said Henry Bellingham, British Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign, & Commonwealth Affairs.
“France hopes that this election will be a further step in Morocco‟s march on the path drawn by the King of Morocco, who launched major and key reforms,” said Bernard Valero, French Foreign Ministry spokesperson
Peter Pham, director, Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, Atlantic Council in Washington, called the elections a “historic moment” marking the culmination of a long process of Moroccan democratic reforms. He added that Morocco “did not wait for the ‘Arab Spring’ to initiate the reform process.”
“These elections are an important milestone for Morocco and the region,” said Edward M. Gabriel, Former US Ambassador to Morocco and Chairman of the Moroccan American Center. “Building and sustaining a working democracy is an aspiring goal and challenge—for all nations. Morocco has a head start with its history of reforms and tolerance. Its new Parliament must now show it can exercise its power to improve the lives of Moroccans and meet their desire for change.”
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