Moroccan elections: Who takes over from PJD?

Multiple elections are underway in Morocco on Wednesday to choose the party or parties that will form the next government.By…

Multiple elections are underway in Morocco on Wednesday to choose the party or parties that will form the next government.By Hicham Alaoui 

More than 17.5 million Moroccan voters go to the polls on Wednesday, September 8, to choose among the candidates running in the triple legislative, regional and communal elections after a campaign period described as “dull.”

While the Justice and Development Party (PJD), in power since 2012, continues to believe in its chances of repeating its conquest of the last two legislative elections of 2011 and 2016 and taking first place, three other parties find the elections as a real opportunity to upset the apple cart and win the reins of government.

These elections, the third since the adoption of the 2011 constitution, are taking place in exceptional circumstances marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has impacted the conduct of the election campaign. 

Thus, political parties have been forced to replace public meetings with the use of new technologies using social media, to present their electoral programs.

The exercise is also taking place after reforms of the electoral code, which changed the quotient formula, abolished the electoral threshold and expanded the cases of incompatibility in the accumulation of mandates.

With this new method of calculating the electoral quotient, some of the major political parties in the running could be weakened. 

The first loser could be the PJD, which holds the reins of the current government. 

Even if it polls 100,000 votes in a given constituency, the PJD will only win one seat, as will another party that only manages to win 10,000. 

No political party is poised to win more than one seat, unless if there is a very high turnout.

According to official statistics, the number of candidates for the elections to the House of Representatives (lower house) reached 1,704, for the regional councils 1,123, while 157,569 candidates were nominated for the communal elections.

This campaign is also different from previous ones in that for the first time in Morocco, voters will go to the polls to elect deputies to the House of Representatives, as well as elected officials to the communal and regional councils.

Big four favorites

Supported by its members and many supporters, the PJD could find itself neck and neck with three other parties namely: the National Rally of Independents (RNI), the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) and the Istiqlal Party (PI), the only political party with candidates covering the entire kingdom.

The RNI, a centrist party led by businessman Aziz Akhannouch, a minister since 2007, appears to be a serious contender to take over from the PJD.

The PAM, which failed to compete with the PJD in the 2016 elections, has restructured and elected a new party leader in the person of Abdellatif Ouahbi. 

The latter accused one of his rivals of using money to win over more voters.

Whatever the results of the election, the political parties, which are to compose the next executive, are called upon to adopt a charter responding to the major orientations of the “new development model”. 

This espouses new reforms and projects aimed particularly at tackling unemployment, social disparities and the establishment of a health and education system that meets the expectations of citizens. 

It will also work towards the implementation of programs to kick-start the recovery of the national economy, which was severely impacted by the health crisis.

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