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Why has Morocco's Justice and Development Party lost so badly?

12 4 1
10.09.2021

The provisional results of the parliamentary election in Morocco show a crushing defeat for the Justice and Development Party (PJD), which collapsed from 125 seats to just 12. This is the party's worst result since the 1997 election, when it won eight seats. Its defeat in this week's election is shocking, given that it had proved its pragmatism, putting the national interests over its own and opting not to oppose major decisions taken by the monarch so as not to plunge the Kingdom into chaos.

The National Rally of Independents (NRI) has replaced the PJD as the party with the most seats in parliament, winning 97 of the 395 seats available. The NRI was founded by late Prime Minister Ahmed Osman in 1978, who was a brother-in-law of the then King Hassan II. The party included liberal politicians favoured by the Royal Palace.

Regardless of their backgrounds, political parties are generally chosen by voters according to their manifesto commitments and policies for running the country. However, in the Arab world, religion also plays a role. Most Arabs are Muslims, which is why the Westernised, US-backed authoritarian regimes in the region do not allow free elections that might bring Islamist parties to power.

When the Algerians protested against food shortages and a failing economy in 1988, the ruling party was forced to give up its monopoly on power and open the way for a multiparty system under a new Constitution. It was the first country in the Arab world to allow Islamists to stand as candidates in parliamentary and municipal elections.

Morocco: PJD leaders resign after election defeat

In the first free election since the country gained its independence from France in 1962, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) defeated the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN). Rather than allow the FIS to form the government, the FLN refused to concede and, backed by the army, started a bloody civil war against the Islamists and the people of Algeria. In a classic example of how the Western media took issue against Islamists, the New York Times referred to the FIS as a "fundamentalist" group, despite the fact that it was moderate in its policies. It highlighted several issues to turn the public against the party, including the status of women, the hijab, secularism and civic freedoms.

"The electoral success for the fundamentalists is likely to encourage Muslim movements in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, Turkey and the Sudan, where powerful Muslim undercurrents play a significant role in politics," warned the NYT.........

© Middle East Monitor


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