The Islamist party that has ruled Morocco for a decade suffered a resounding defeat by liberal parties in the parliamentary elections on Wednesday (8), according to preliminary results released this morning.
The Justice and Development Party (PJD, a moderate Islamist) rose from 125 seats to 12, out of a total of 395 deputies, according to figures released by Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit.
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As a result, the PJD distanced itself from its main rivals, the National Independent Group (RNI), the Liberal Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), and the center-right Istiqlal Party.
RNI won 97 seats, followed by PAM with 82 and Istiqlal with 78.
The RNI, which is now part of the governing coalition, is led by wealthy businessman Aziz Akhannouch, identified as a man close to the palace (Morocco is a parliamentary monarchy).
WFP, the main opposition party, was founded in 2008 by the current royal adviser, Fouad Ali El Himma.
The Istiqlal (Independence) is the oldest party in Morocco.
The magnitude of the defeat of the Islamists is unexpected in the country. Despite the lack of polls, the press and several analysts had hoped that the PJD would manage to remain in the top spot.
In fact, the party was aiming for a third consecutive term at the head of the Moroccan government.
King Mohamed VI will have to nominate a head of government for the party that wins legislative scrutiny, who will run the executive for a five-year term in place of Saad-Eddine El Othmani.
The definitive results should be known later this Thursday.
The participation rate in the election reached 50.35%, according to the Minister of the Interior, higher than the 43% rate for the 2016 elections.
This was the first time that some 18 million voters chose their 395 deputies at the same time as their community and regional representatives, which helped to reduce the abstention rate.
The Islamists denounced “serious irregularities” in the process, including “obscene distribution of money” near polling stations and “confusion” on some electoral lists where people could not find their names.
However, Laftit said the elections took place “under normal circumstances”, despite some “isolated cases”.
In 2011, Morocco adopted a new constitution that gave great prerogatives to Parliament and the government.
Still, decisions and directions in key sectors continue to emanate from King Muhammad VI’s initiatives.