Close Race and Steady Voter Turnout Signal Progress, Says Former US Ambassador
Washington, DC, October 11, 2016 (MACP) – Morocco’s incumbent moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) won 125 seats—a narrow victory over the more liberal Party of Authenticity and Modernity’s (PAM) 102 seats—in Friday’s hotly contested legislative elections, the second Parliamentary race since the 2011 reform of the North African country’s Constitution. Voter turnout held steady at 43%, just two percentage points shy of the 2011 election voter turnout, as Moroccans chose among 6,992 provisional candidates from 30 different political parties competing for 395 seats in Parliament.
Nearly 4,700 election observers—including 316 from international organizations, 412 from Morocco’s National Human Right Council (CNDH), and thousands from other Moroccan NGOs—were dispatched to polling places around the country. On Saturday, CNDH released a 14-page report concluding that, like previous parliamentary and local contests in the country since the late 1990s, Friday’s elections were free and fair.
On Monday, in accordance with the 2011 Constitutional reform that requires the King to name the Prime Minister from the majority party in Parliament, King Mohammed VI appointed PJD leader Abdelilah Benkiran to a second term. It is now up to Prime Minister Benkiran to form a new coalition government.
“Once again, Morocco leads the way in demonstrating that a country committed to democratization can and must allow its citizens to voice their preferences in free, fair, and transparent elections,” said former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward M. Gabriel. “The close race and steady voter turnout show that the Moroccan political scene remains vibrant, and that the average Moroccan continues to see promise in the country’s path toward democracy.”
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