Despite frustration with its economic policy and conservative stances, the preliminary count of the votes shows a victory of the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) which came first in Morocco’s general elections taking 99 seats followed by its arch rival, the liberal Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) with 80 seats.
So far, 303 out of 395 House of Representatives seats had been decided by early Saturday. The vote was still being tallied for two seats, and the 90 other seats are reserved for women and youth who will be chosen proportionally from the lists of the winning parties. Final results are expected later Saturday.
Voter apathy marked these elections with only 43% of the 16 million citizens registered to vote casting their ballot marking a significant turnout drop compared to the 2015 local elections and 2011 general elections, the Interior Ministry said.
The preliminary results also show the de facto polarization of the Moroccan political scene between the Islamists and liberals. The PJD and the PAM widened the gap between them and other traditional parties such as the Istiqlal party (IP), the National Rally for Independents (RNI), the Popular Movement (MP) and the Constitutional Union (UC) which took 31, 30, 21 and 16 seats respectively.
The results have signalled the decline of left and socialist parties with the Union for Socialist forces taking only 14 seats, the Party for Progress and Socialist (PPS) 7 seats, the democratic and socialist movement 3 seats and the Federation of the democratic left 2 seats.
The Moroccan political spectrum makes it impossible for a party to win sweeping majority. The tight race will make it tough for the PJD to form a government coalition. Yet, in previous elections a coalition bringing together an array of tendencies including the Islamist PJD, pro-establishment MP and RNI and former communist PPS was made possible.
These legislative elections, hailed unanimously by the leaders of Moroccan political parties as well as by international observers as transparent and free, have once again showed that Morocco represents an exceptional model in an uncertain regional environment. The polls also highlighted that the democratic process in Morocco is on track and moving ahead.