Moroccan Elections

Morocco Election: Everything You Need to Know

The Kingdom of Morocco has a multi-party system, with several parties ranging from far-leftist to Islamist. Its legislative election occurred yesterday, and let me just say, the hype was REAL. Our cohort had a meeting in Meknes on Thursday, and the streets were jam-packed: young men hung out of cars, people of all ages tossed fliers, and an overall feeling of enthusiasm filled the air. Despite the excitement I witnessed, only around 40% of registered voters cast their ballots in this election. An article written by Ahmed El Amraoui of Al Jazeera explains the election in a generally unbiased manner, so I thought I’d share it with you. It was written prior to the election, but it explains Moroccan politics incredibly well. If you’re looking for a spoiler alert, the Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD) won, and it has been running a coalition government since 2011. Peace Corps is apolitical, so I won’t be sharing any of my own opinions. However, I encourage you to read this article, then explore the list of Moroccan political parties at the bottom of the page. Chukran bzaf!


About 16 million Moroccans head to polls to pick representatives for the 395-seat lower house of parliament.

By Ahmed El Amraoui


Rabat, Morocco – Moroccans head to the polls on October 7 for the kingdom’s 10th parliamentary elections since independence in 1956, to define a new political map of the North African country.

Around 16 million Moroccans of the country’s 34 million are registered to vote.

Candidates from 30 parties will compete to win seats in the 395-member Chamber of Representatives, the lower house of parliament.

Campaigning began on September 25.

The main battle will be hotly contested between the ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) and opposition Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM).

The Istiqlal (Independence) Party, the oldest in the country founded in 1944, is also projected to do well in this election.

The PJD, which won the parliamentary elections in 2011 after a turbulent period that saw many of Morocco’s neighbours shaken by the Arab Spring, lost to the PAM in municipal elections in 2015.

So what’s the set-up?

Morocco’s parliament is made up of two directly elected chambers: the 395-member House of Representatives (the lower house) and the 270-member House of Advisers (the upper house).

On October 7, voters from Morocco’s 95 electoral districts will elect members to serve a five-year term in the House of Representatives.

Out of 395 members, 305 are elected in multi-seat constituencies from electoral lists put together by the parties, while 60 seats of the remaining 90 are reserved for a national list of women and the other 30 seats are at grab by candidates under the age of 35.

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Will voters turn out?

Voter turnout is generally poor. On the whole, about 50 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots both in local (municipal and regional polls) and national elections (parliament).

Voter turnout in the 2015 local elections was 53.67 percent, up from approximately 45 percent in the 2011 parliamentary vote.

Turnout in next October elections will be closely watched for an indication of people’s trust in the country’s politicians and parties, but projections stipulate that a certain amount of voter apathy is expected this time too.

And who are they voting for?

The multi-party system in the kingdom makes it impossible for any political party to win an absolute majority, forcing any winning party to work with other parties to form a coalition government.

At least 30 political parties are taking part in the upcoming elections, but only six major parties do enjoy strong electoral base.

Those six major parties are usually invited to form coalition governments, while some prefer to remain in the opposition.

Those parties are:

Justice and Development Party (PJD)
Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM)
Istiqlal Party (IP)
Popular Movement (MP)
Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS)
National Rally of Independents (RNI)

Does all this matter? Isn’t the king in charge?

He is. Morocco is a constitutional monarchy and the king has ultimate authority. King Mohammed VI, Morocco’s monarch, came to power in 1999, after the death of his father.

The king chairs the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, the National Security Council, and the Council of Ministers, which must approve all legislations. He is also the commander of the faithful, adding religious authority to his political and security ones.

The country’s new constitution, which was approved in a referendum in 2011, however, introduced amendments that stripped the king of some of his political powers.

The amendments strengthened the authority of the country’s prime minister, allowing him/her to appoint government officials and dissolve parliament – authorities previously held only by the king.

The new constitution also ensures that the prime minister is selected from the party that received the most votes in election, rather than the king naming whomever he pleases.

The reforms also strengthen parliament, allowing it to launch investigations into officials with the support of just one-fifth of its members or to begin a censure motion against a minister with the backing of a third, rather than needing the unanimous approval demanded by the current constitution.

Does social media have any impact on elections?

New media has become an integral part of the political landscape in Morocco as it helped internet-assisted political communications to boom in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring, which challenged the balance of power in domestic politics in different Arab countries.

Many government officials and political parties are now positive about using social media too as a channel to bridge the communication gap with citizens.

Social media platforms have become the prime space for Moroccans to discuss their daily issues and to assess the government and parliament works.

According to CMAIS and BoldData, two Moroccan agencies specialising in information processing, Facebook is the social media network with the highest market penetration in Morocco with a total of 8 million active users out of 16 million Internet users.

06b340e2d83e4a158467ce30ee9f3d2f_18Are the elections fair?

Critics say there is no guarantee of transparency in the elections organised by Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior.

Despite some irregularities noted by independent observers, such as buying votes, the voting process is generally carried out close to international standards.

Is there anything else I should know about Morocco?

Bordered on the east by Algeria and on the south by Mauritania [including the disputed Western Sahara region], Morocco has a population of 34 million, with Arabs constituting 70 percent and Berbers making up most of the rest.

Sunni Muslims account for 90 percent of the population, but the kingdom also has small Christian and Jewish minorities.

The main official language is Arabic. Berber language, which is spoken widely in the north and the south has been granted the status of official language by the 2011 constitution.

The law that regulates the Berber language is still under debate in the parliament. Many Moroccans speak French or Spanish as a second or third language.

Morocco became an independent sovereign state in 1956, following joint declarations made with France and Spain.

Mohammed Ben Youssef, the Sultan of Morocco, adopted the title of King Mohammed V, and on his death in 1961, his son succeeded him as King Hassan II and became prime minister.


Political parties established between 1940 and 1970:

 

Name in English

Name in French

Abbreviation

Name in Arabic

Ideology

Establishment

General Secretary

Istiqlal Party Parti de l’istiqlal PI حزب الاستقلال conservatism, nationalism 1943 Hamid Chabat
Democratic Independence Party Parti démocratique et de l’indépendance

Parti de la Choura et de l’Istiqlal

PDI حزب الشورى و الاستقلال nationalism 1946 Abdelouhahed Maâche
Popular Movement Mouvement populaire MP الحركة الشعبية liberalism, nationalism 1957 Mohand Laenser (fr)
National Union of Popular Forces Union nationale des forces populaires UNFP الاتحاد الوطني للقوات الشعبية socialism 1959 Abdallah Ibrahim

(last SG 1959-2005)

Political parties established between 1970 and 1990:

 

Name in English

Name in French

Abbreviation

Name in Arabic

Ideology

Establishment

General Secretary

Party of Progress and Socialism Parti du progrès et du socialisme PPS حزب التقدم والاشتراكية progressivism, socialism 1974 Mohamed Nabil Benabdallah
Action Party Parti de l’action PA حزب العمل socialism 1974 Mohammed Drissi
Socialist Union of Popular Forces Union socialiste des forces populaires USFP الاتحاد الاشتراكي للقوات الشعبية progressivism, socialism 1975 Driss Lachgar
National Rally of Independents Rassemblement national des indépendants RNI التجمع الوطني للاحرار liberalism 1978 Salaheddine Mezouar
Party of the Social Center Parti du centre social PCS حزب الوسط الاجتماعي socialism 1982 Madih Lahcen
Constitutional Union Union constitutionnelle UC الاتحاد الدستوري liberalism 1983 Mohamed Abied
Socialist Democratic Vanguard Party Parti de l’avant-garde démocratique et socialiste PADS حزب الطليعة الديمقراطي الاشتراكي socialism 1983 Ahmed Benjelloun

Political parties established between 1990 and 2000:

 

Name in English

Name in French

Abbreviation

Name in Arabic

Ideology

Establishment

General Secretary

Green Party for Development Parti des verts pour le développement PVD حزب الخضر للتنمية environmentalism 1992 Fatima Alaoui
Democratic Way La voie démocratique

Parti Annahj Addimocrati

VD حزب النهج الديمقراطي Socialism, Marxism 1995 Abdallah Elharif
Democratic and Social Movement Mouvement démocratique et social MDS الحركة الديمقراطية الاجتماعية liberalism 1996 Mahmoud Archane
Front of Democratic Forces Front des forces démocratiques FFD جبهة القوى الديمقراطية Socialism 1997 Thami El Khyari
Justice and Development Party Parti de la justice et du développement PJD حزب العدالة و التنمية Islamism, conservatism, socialism 1998 Abdelilah Benkirane
Party of Hope Parti de l’espoir PE حزب الامل liberalism 1999 Mohamed Bani Oueld Baraka

Click here for more information on Moroccan politics.

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7 thoughts on “Morocco Election: Everything You Need to Know

  1. Hi Abbie or, shall I say, my dear Idahoan. Thanks for following my offerings and in the process connecting me to your dynamic world. Your write on Morocco makes for an interesting read, specially the multiparty parliamentary system of governance. However, the percentage of polling at 40% is woefully low to reflect a worthwhile mandate. Why is it so? Probably the rate of literacy may have something to do with it. Look forward to reading up more going forward with you. Best…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for asking! Literacy in this country is actually not excessively low, but the main reason behind these low numbers is sheer apathy. Many Moroccans didn’t like any of the leading parties, so they simply didn’t vote. Thanks so much for reading my blog!

      Liked by 1 person

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