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2007-09-10

Moroccan elections bring victory for conservatives

By Mawassi Lahcen for Magharebia in Casablanca – 10/09/2007

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The September 7th legislative elections in Morocco appear to have driven away left-wing parties and given an edge to the right and conservative parties that may enable them to form the next government within an alliance of 4 or 5 parties.

Seven major parties claimed 80% of the 325 seats in the Moroccan House of Representatives. They took place through a list system of voting which has the potential to create disparate results. Seventeen small parties claimed 20% of the seats, while nine of the 33 parties participating in the elections won no seats at all. Despite higher preliminary estimates, overall voter turnout in the elections totalled approximately 37%.

In spite of the larger number of participating parties – 33, as compared to 26 parties in 2002 -- only several of the seven major parties were able to bolster their position, and their share increased from 72% in 2002 to 80% of the next House.

The group of seven winners includes five right parties claiming 63% of the seats, and two left parties with 17% of the seats.

The Istiqlal (Independence) party received more votes than the others, with 16% of the seats. In second place was the Justice and Development Party (PJD), which won 14% of the seats, followed by the Popular Movement Party with 13%, the National Rally of Independents, also with 12%, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) with 12% and the Constitutional Union Party with 8% of the seats.

The results constitute a significant defeat for the USFP, which slipped from first place in 2002 with 15% of the seats to fifth place with 12%.

Observers expect the results will lead to a re-arrangement of the coalition of parties constituting the ruling majority, which currently includes the USFP, Istiqlal, the National Rally of Independents, the Popular Movement Party and the Party of Progress and Socialism. Although the alliance's share of seats has slightly increased, from 54% in 2002 to 57% in 2007, observers have predicted the USFP will withdraw from the alliance following its poor election results and will not participate in the coming government.

Mohamed Tozi, head of the Moroccan Centre for Sociological Studies in Casablanca told Magharebia he ruled out the possibility that the USFP will take part in the next administration. "I think that the USFP will experience strong internal pressures because of the results it has achieved," said Tozi. "It will find great difficulty convincing its activists of the feasibility of participation after the big loss it has suffered."

Many of the USFP's current leaders were unable to win re-election on September 7th. They include Mohamed Al-Ashaari, currently serving as Minister of Culture; Nouzha Chekrouni, Minister Delegate in charge of the Moroccan community abroad; and Driss Lachgar, head of the party's parliamentary bloc; as well as Omar El-Yazghi, son of the party's current Secretary-General.

After 40 years in the opposition, the USFP first took part in the government in 1997, when late King Hassan II asked then-Secretary-General Abderrahman al-Youssoufi to form a government of compromise. The party has remained in power under each subsequent government. The shift from opposition to ruling party has taxed the cohesion of the party, leading to numerous internal crises and weakening the group. Many expect the USFP will return to the opposition in order to re-align its ranks and lick its wounds.

Three parties participating in the current government -- Istiqlal, the Popular Movement Party and the National Rally of Independents – won 41% of the total seats and are likely to form the nucleus of the new government, guaranteeing a degree of continuity with the previous government's direction.

Moroccan researcher and political analyst Miloud Belkadi believes the PJD is likely to participate in this alliance. "There are common factors between these three parties and the PJD," he told Magharebia. Primarily "there is the fact they are all conservative parties that embrace liberalism and market economics. Therefore, I think that their alliance will be a natural and coherent one."

Belkadi said a government led by Istiqlal and which includes the PJD, the National Rally of Independents and the Popular Movement Party will be superior to the current government, led by an independent -- Driss Jettou -- and which includes a dysfunctional blend of socialist parties, liberal parties and conservative parties.

Belkadi believes that the liberal Constitutional Union Party, which came sixth in the elections with 8% of the seats, could also join the ruling coalition, guaranteeing a comfortable majority in the parliament for the forthcoming government.

However, Belkadi expressed some reservations on the issue of forming the forthcoming government. "From a political perspective, the Istiqlal party leads the rankings. It is followed by other parties that are close to it on major issues," he said. "Thus, it would be logical that the government be formed by the parties led by Istiqlal. Yet, under the constitution the King is the one who appoints the Prime Minister – as per article 24. This article doesn't specify whether the Prime Minister should be from the parliamentary majority or not. Therefore, I can't rule out the possibility the King will appoint Driss Jettou again, or even former Minister Delegate to the Interior Ministry Fouad Ali El Himma, who won in the district of R'hamna. In addition, the formation of the forthcoming government depends on the results of negotiations between the parties, and their ability to reach an agreement."

Overall, four of 12 serving Ministers failed to win re-election on September 7th. Seven party Secretaries-General also lost out in the elections. Former Minister Delegate to the Interior Ministry Fouad Ali El Himma proved to be a strong contender, however, with his independent list winning every seat in the R'hamna district, despite competition from 15 party-backed competitors.

Contrary to the predictions of many, the elections did not bring about a "crushing victory" for the Islamists. On the contrary, their performance was generally below expectations. The PJD, despite a second-place win, could not rival its own performance in 2002. In the previous elections, the PJD ran in 51 constituencies and won 42 seats, where in 2007 it fielded candidates in 94 constituencies but managed to take just 46 seats.

Two new Islamist parties – the Renaissance and Virtue Party and Albadil Alhadari (Civilised Alternative) Party, failed to win any seats in their first attempts, save for the seat won by Sheikh Abdelbarii Zemzami in Casablanca. Zemzami benefitted greatly from his spiritual influence in the old districts of Casablanca, in addition to his affiliation with the Renaissance and Virtue Party, recently formed out of the PJD.

International elections observers announced at a press conference in Rabat that, despite reports of minor violations, the voting ran smoothly and was characterised by transparency and professionalism.

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    عزيز 2008-1-8

    We can consider that Al Adl Wa Al Ihssane group is one of the most popular Islamic movements especially after they issued 'All for delivery'.

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    ععيساوي محمد مواطن محب للدولة العلوية الشريفة 2007-10-22

    This is the first time I’ve been proud of the choice of the new government- especially the choice of the right people to the right posts. Many have commented on the minister of culture the artist, the learned and daughter of the people, during her mandate, culture will thrive with all the meaning of the world. Mecca will see only its people. So congratulations to the young king may God protect him and protect his son dear Mly Al Hassan. Why not? His grandfather was the builder of bridges and modern Morocco. May God protect the Alaouite dynasty. I hoped that all ministers would have been selected from the faithful sons of the people who raised high the flag of Morocco. Congratulations to the respectful Touria Jabrane and the respectable lady Naoual El Moutawakil and to the lady with nice heart with her smile God Almighty will heal all the ill, why not and she was the minister of the deprived family and now she’s minister of health. I wish them all success. The choice of the king, who is supported by God, is a good choice which he inherited from his ascendants. Despite what was said, I think that the new government will be successful because it includes sons of the Moroccan people who love their king and nation. "And say: Work; so God will see your work and His Messenger and the believers".

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    kamal 2007-9-22

    It is a shame to appoint a prime minister like Abbas El Fassi when it was he who plotted while he was a minister of employment in the alternation government led by Youssoufi. He made statements on public channels which made 30000 Moroccan young men, and I'm one of them, fall victim to a fraud against the Emirates company Najat which won billions thanks to his statements full of lies. There are still many complaints against him and which didn't find their way to justice. The place of a person like this is prison and not the chair of minister namely because 6 of the victims of the illusionary destruction company committed suicide Oh Lord this is enormous.

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    hassan 2007-9-22

    I don't believe in the Moroccan democracy as democracy is that people choose who will run their affairs and implement a policy which will be accepted by the people in all sectors. As long as their are sovereign ministries such as the interior, foreign affairs, Islamic Affairs and the prime minister since these ministers are the cornerstone of the public policy in Morocco and the king has the right to appoint anyone he chooses to these functions whatever the results of the elections and whatever the winning party. So by God, what's the use of elections?

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    أمحمد 2007-9-19

    I agree with you Salma. The Socialist Union has an opportunity to play a historic role if it remains in the oppositions and work on uniting the left and creating a strong left pole in Morocco before returning with power to the next elections. The results of the elections of September gave 61% of the seats to the right parties, 24% to the left parties led by the Socialist Union, and 15% to Islamists. It’s natural, as it is stated in the article, that the government will be formed from the right parties, unless the Socialist Union party has lost the compass and has become colorless, and if at accepts the pickings from the tables of the right and the empty portfolios they can offer.

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    salma 2007-9-15

    The USFP has no shame! Despite losing the election, despite the people not wanting them, they will not let go of the government. The heads of the USFP should be ashamed to say they will be participating in the next legislative assembly.

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    hasna 2007-9-14

    In response to Acharif Moulay Abdellah Bouskraoui who said “the parties of the Left are comprised of so-called intellectual and the press, who care only about destroying the principles of Islam and encouraging prostitution and paedophilia. They have been egged on by foreign powers to lead a war against Islam…” I would like to ask if you are aware of what you are saying??? It is important that you to better understand the politics of your country--notably the politics of the Left—before giving your opinion!!! My poor man, you have obviously understood nothing.

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    helene 2007-9-11

    To Everyone: I am happy that the election wer conducted more normally than in 2002. I am happy that the popular movement went up to 4.31 per cent. That shows that the electoral campaign was organized in way that was close to the Moroccan sentiment. There is still regret in the population, which consists of many young people who would like to have a comfortable life and see better life-styles. If you look at French publications, you will find a young guy in Casablanca said he did not own a single pair of pants, while young people in France were brand names like Adidas, Reebok, Airness and so on. That is disturbing. The fact that the parties asked them to vote is good, but if they would do something for them, it would be easier to get them to vote. Now we just need to see whom the King is going to elect as prime-minister and what is really going to change. Being acquainted with Moroccans and interested by your country, I, myself, am awaiting the outcome of these events.

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    acharif moulay abdellah bouskraoui 2007-9-11

    Moroccans are a conservative people who want to preserve their cultural and religious patrimony. Above all else, they are a people tolerant of Jews and Christians, living in peace and harmony under the leadership of the Supreme Guarantor of the Nation and its principles, His Majesty, Mohammed VI. The Istiqlal party is a party that will guarantee the preservation of this patrimony, whereas the parties of the Left are comprised of so-called intellectual and the press, who care only about destroying the principles of Islam and encouraging prostitution and paedophilia. They have been egged on by foreign powers to lead a war against Islam under the guise of the freedom of expression and human rights. The second face of these two-faced creatures is integrationist. Thus, this is the complete opposite of a double-headed coin; it is double-tails.

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