Islamists win most seats in Moroccan vote

RABAT Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:18pm EST

Abdelilah Benkirane (R), secretary-general of Morocco's moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), welcomes Serge Berdugo, head of the council of Jewish community in Morocco, in Rabat November 26, 2011. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

Abdelilah Benkirane (R), secretary-general of Morocco's moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), welcomes Serge Berdugo, head of the council of Jewish community in Morocco, in Rabat November 26, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Youssef Boudlal

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RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco's moderate Islamist PJD party won the most seats in the country's parliamentary election, final results showed Sunday, in the latest sign of a resurgence of faith-based movements since the Arab Spring uprisings.

The victory for Morocco's Justice and Development Party came a month after Tunisia handed power to a previously-banned party of moderate Islamists. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is also expected to do well in an election starting Monday.

PJD, which will get its first chance to head a coalition government, has said it will promote Islamic finance but steer clear of imposing a strict moral code on a country that depends on tourism.

The party, whose deceased founder was a physician of King Mohammed's grandfather, is loyal to the monarchy and backs its role as the supreme religious authority in the country.

PJD won 107 seats in the 395-seat parliament, according to results from the interior ministry carried by the official MAP news agency.

Three parties from the secularist Koutla bloc, with which the PJD wants to form a coalition, won a total 117 seats, the results showed.

Koutla includes the Istiqlal Party, of outgoing Prime Minister Abbas Al Fassi, Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) and Socialism and Progress Party (PPS). The three parties won 60, 39 and 18 seats respectively. Istiqlal headed the incumbent coalition.

Ruler King Mohammed is expected to pick a prime minister from PJD's ranks next week, with its secretary general Abdelilah Benkirane touted for the job.

PJD's rivals, a grouping of eight liberal parties with close ties to the royal palace, lagged behind with about 160 seats in total, according to the final results.

Morocco has not had a revolution of the kind seen elsewhere in the region. But King Mohammed, has pushed through limited reforms to contain what has become regular protests demanding a British or Spanish-style monarchy.

Fathallah Arsalane, a prominent figure in the banned al-Adl Wal Ihsane (Justice and Spirituality) which has been a driving force behind the protests, said PJD deserved to win but he noted that it may not be any different from parties that have led previous governments.

"They (PJD) are honest people who love their country. But it will be in a coalition with other parties ... Parties execute the ruler's policies," he told Reuters in an interview.

The moderate Islamists' strong showing came on the back of its promises for greater democracy, less corruption and to tackle acute social inequalities by raising minimum wages and reforming education. Youth unemployment is at 31 percent and nearly a quarter of the 33 million population live in severe poverty.

Mohamed, a building concierge in his mid-thirties in Rabat, gave his vote to PJD, which he referred to as "Justice."

"I like Justice. They are fearless. Benkirane is blunt, he calls things by their name. He is not like other politicians who speak words I can't fathom."

"But they have to work quickly and it will not be made easy for them. The other parties don't like them. I think Justice have one year to show us some satisfactory change ... We want dignity and jobs," said Mohamed, arms-folded.

(Reporting By Souhail Karam; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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Comments (9)
bill1942 wrote:
Is anyone surprised? The new Caliphate is coming together nicely, thanks in part to an inept U.S. Department of State.

Nov 27, 2011 4:02pm EST  --  Report as abuse
neilc23 wrote:
Morocco’s moderate Islamic Party is far more ‘centered’ than either America’s ‘religious right’, our Tea Party . . . or especially the leftist dominated Democrat extremists . . . led by Obama and Pelosi.

Unfortunately, the American media is every bit as biased to leftist-ideas as was Germany’s National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi Party).

Let’s face it: extremists are extremists . . . and have hurt every democratic nation . . . even America.

Now is the time for our nation to rise up and either reform both the Democrat and Republican parties . . . or form a new centrist party . . . dedicated to 1) fiscal responsibility, and 2) social moderation. The true American Patriots accept ‘compromise’ because they recognize that a simple majority of only 51% to 53% has no God-given right to totally dominate and destroy the other 47% to 49% of the Americans who simply differ from them.

Nov 27, 2011 10:43pm EST  --  Report as abuse
DeepSpaceTen wrote:
Oh. this is bound to end up well……

Nov 27, 2011 10:49pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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