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The debacle is final, much more severe than announced by most observers. The Justice and Development Party (PJD, Islamist), in power in Morocco for ten years – in coalitions very closely controlled by King Mohamed VI -, suffered, Wednesday, September 8, a stinging setback in legislative elections after which he only arrives in eighth position (12 seats out of 395). This rout puts an end to the historical sequence opened by the “movement of February 20” of 2011, Moroccan version of the “Arab Spring”, of which the Islamists of the kingdom had been the main beneficiaries in the course of national and local elections.
Their failure now paves the way for the rise of the National Rally of Independents (RNI), led by a businessman close to the king, Aziz Akhannouch – Morocco’s first private fortune -, which becomes the first party represented in the Assembly, with 97 seats. The second position goes to another formation linked to the palace, the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) – 82 seats -, followed by the Istiqlal Party (PI), heir to the “National movement” engaged in the struggle for independence. The participation rate rose to 50.35%, up from the 2016 election (42.29%), despite a rather lackluster campaign carried out mainly on social networks, health constraints oblige.
The conditions in which the ballot took place were certainly not favorable to the PJD, already weakened by its compromises in the exercise of power. The change in the calculation of the electoral quotient, now based on the number of registered voters and no longer of voters, was clearly aimed at boosting the chances of average parties, and therefore at fragmenting the electoral scene to the detriment of a party like the PJD.
“Obscene distribution of money”
Suspected vote purchases during the campaign added to the adversity, with the Islamist party denouncing Wednesday of “Serious irregularities”, of which “The obscene distribution of money”. The results underline, despite everything, ” an undeniable rejection ” of the PJD, undermined by “A deep crisis of credibility”, notes Youssef Belal, professor of political science at Columbia University in New York and author of works on Moroccan Islamism. “The PJD is now paying the price for all the snakes it had to swallow during the exercise of power”, adds Mr. Belal.
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