Islamists suffer crushing defeat in Moroccan parliamentary elections

Morocco’s liberal RNI party has won the most seats in the country’s parliamentary elections, followed by another liberal party, PAM, while the joint ruling PJD moderate Islamists suffered a crushing defeat, preliminary results showed on Thursday.

RNI, led by billionaire agriculture minister Aziz Akhannouch, took 97 of the 395-seat parliament, followed by PAM with 82 seats and the conservative Istiqlal with 78 seats.

The PJD, which had been a coalition partner in the two previous governments, had only won 12 seats after accounting for 96% of all parliamentary seats. The results show a massive change in fortune, as the RNI had only won 37 seats in the last elections of 2016, while the PJD was left with 125.

Islamists defeated in Moroccan parliamentary elections

RNI ministers controlled the key economic portfolios of agriculture, finance, trade and tourism in the outgoing government.

Turnout in Wednesday’s elections improved to 50.3%, up from 43% in 2016, as Morocco held parliamentary and local elections on the same day.

Morocco is a constitutional monarchy where the king has extensive powers in the North African country. It chooses the prime minister of the party that won the most seats in parliament, who will then form a cabinet and present it for the King’s approval.

The Palace has the final say in appointments related to key departments, including the interior, foreign affairs and defense.

The new voting rules were expected to make it difficult for the largest parties to win as many seats as before, meaning the RNI will have to enter into coalition talks to form a government.

The palace also sets the economic agenda and has commissioned a model development country of 37 million people that the new government is being asked to implement.

In a statement Wednesday, the PJD accused the rivals of buying votes, without naming any or giving details.

Despite being the largest party since 2011, the PJD has been unable to stop laws it opposes, including one to strengthen the French language in education and another to allow cannabis for medical use.

The PJD will go over to the opposition if it does not win the elections, Lahcen Daoudi, a former PJD minister, told reporters.

(REUTERS)

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