The fate of the Islamists in power in Morocco at stake in the legislative elections
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Moroccans go to the polls on Wednesday for legislative and local elections which will decide the fate of the Islamists who have governed the kingdom since the uprisings of the Arab Spring.
The doors of the polling stations will open at 8:00 a.m. (07:00 GMT) and close at 7:00 p.m. for the 18 million registered on the electoral roll, who will vote for 395 deputies and more than 31,000 local and regional elected representatives.
King Mohammed VI will appoint a prime minister from the party leading the parliamentary poll to rule for the next five years.
The palace remains the source of key decisions and strategic orientations in the country of 36 million inhabitants.
Brought to power following the 2011 uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) hopes to secure a third term at the head of a ruling coalition.
Compared to demands at the time for an end to “corruption and despotism”, this year’s two-week election campaign has been broadly stable, with no large rallies due to the coronavirus.
In recent days, however, the PJD and its close rival the National Rally of Independents (RNI) have traded harsher blows.
– ‘Suspicion’ –
Former Prime Minister and PJD leader Abdelilah Benkirane on Sunday attacked RNI boss, billionaire businessman and Minister of Agriculture Aziz Akhannouch, in a fiery Facebook video.
“The head of government must be a politician with integrity and above all suspicion,” he said.
Akhannouch, who is said to be close to the royal palace, retorted in an interview Monday that the attacks were “an admission of failure” on the part of his opponents, vowing not to respond.
Following the last elections in 2016, the leader of the RNI secured key ministerial positions for his party, including the portfolios of economy and finance and industry.
In addition to the PJD and the RNI, the Liberal Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), formed by an influential royal advisor, and the center-right Istiqlal Party are both seen as pioneers in the local media.
The election campaign was marked by allegations by PAM that RNI was buying votes – denied by Akhannouch’s party – while the PJD lambasted excessive political spending without naming names.
– ‘New model’ –
Changes to the voting system this year mean that party seat shares will be calculated based on registered voters, rather than those who actually voted, in an amendment seen as favoring small parties.
On the same share of the vote as in 2016, the new system could leave the PJD around 80 seats, instead of the 125 it obtained last time, which would complicate the formation of a post-electoral coalition.
The lack of a clear confrontation during the campaign frustrated some voters and expectations for participation are low.
“We want representatives with a clear vision, not people who just want to manage the day to day things,” said a voter in the streets of the capital Rabat.
Whatever the outcome, all political parties should adopt a charter for a “new development model” with a “new generation of reforms and projects” in the years to come, the king said recently.
All parties are expected to register, regardless of who wins the election.
The main goals of the plan include closing the country’s wealth gap and doubling per capita economic output by 2035.
© 2021 AFP