Morocco’s Elections… Political Tsunami Overthrows MB and Draws New Map of Alliances

The Moroccan Justice and Development party (JDP) has suffered a resounding defeat in the legislative elections, as the results went against most of the expectations, especially that some observers had nominated the “MB Party” to win or at least occupy the first places in the vote that took place last Wednesday. However, JDP came far from the “National Rally of Independents, the winner with the largest number of seats-102 seats. While the total number of seats that the Justice and Development obtained did not exceed 13 seats, after it had 125 during the last term.

Observers believe that this loss accounts for a serious political tsunami within the JDP and makes the Moroccan experience the only one in the region where political Islam was collapsed through the ballot boxes.

Colossal Defeat..

The Moroccan authorities supervising the elections in Morocco have announced the final results of the legislative elections. The total turnout was 50.35 percent, out of a total of nearly 18 million registered voters, up from 43 percent registered in 2016, when the “National Rally of Independents” party, led by Aziz Akhannouch, topped the list by getting 102 seats out of a total of 395, compared to 86 for the Authenticity and Modernity Party, the traditional opponent of PJT, and 81 for Istiqlal Party.

As for the JDP, it has suffered a severe defeat, after coming eighth in the list of Moroccan political parties, with only 13 seats.

Internal Fracture

Omar Al-Rezki, a political science researcher, believes that the results of these elections represent a severe defeat for the JDP, which has dominated the political scene since 2011. The Brotherhood-classified party has been seeking to win these elections in order to form its third government in a row, especially after it managed to ascend by taking advantage of the events of the “Arab Spring” in 2011. At the time, some “limited” sparks resulted from the Arab Spring reached Morocco and followed by reformist constitutional amendments which the party exploited by playing the victimhood card and the efficient alternative.

Al-Rezki also believes that the internal factors of JDP are at the forefront of the reasons that led to its loss in ballot boxes. He notes that the party is internally disintegrated, and there is a great leadership rift between Abdelilah Benkirane, the former Secretary-General of the party, and Saad-Eddine El Othmani, his successor for the head of the party and the government.

It is noteworthy that, as soon as the preliminary results of the elections were announced, Benkirane held El Othmani responsible for the party’s loss in the elections. “It is not appropriate for our party in these difficult circumstances but the Secretary-General to bear his responsibility and submit his resignation from the party leadership, which his deputy will be obligated to bear,” says Benkirane demanding El Othmani’s resignation.

The dispute between the two leaders, El Othmani and Benkirane, began on March 17, 2017, after Mohammed VI, the Moroccan monarch had relieved the latter from forming the government, and appointed El Othmani as his successor. The gap widened at the party’s eighth national congress in December 2017, when El Othmani was elected as the head of the government and the party’s secretary-general, to succeed Benkirane.

In the context, Al-Rezqi indicates that the regional climate that served the Islamic parties, participating in the political game in more than one Arab country, is no longer in the interest of JDP today and, thus, the party has been popularly retreated, especially as it has been exploiting religious tendencies for polarization for years. During the party’s time in the opposition, it has triggered the feeling of an important bloc of voters, but this bloc is now mostly tired of slogans, and needs governments capable of changing their daily living conditions.

According to Al-Rezqi, party’s results in the legislative accounts for a serious political tsunami within the JDP and makes the Moroccan experience the only one in the region where political Islam was collapsed through the ballot boxes.

The JDP had dominated in the 2016 elections, by winning 125 seats in the outgoing parliament, before the party lost more than 112 of these seats in the recent elections. This loss has made it at the bottom of the list of parties participating in the new parliament, to the extent that JDP will not be able to form an influential parliamentary bloc within the House of Representatives.

According to the parliament’s internal law, the party needs to have at least 20 seats in order to be able to form a parliamentary bloc, which will leave the party without any real means of influence in the next parliament and the government emanating from it.

Convenient Map of Alliances

After the National Rally of Independents has come at the top, it will start consultations to form the next Moroccan government majority, a majority that observers say would be convenient in the absence of the Islamists.

Munif Ghbara, a political science researcher, confirms in an interview with MENA monitor that the next stage will be different from the stage that had interactions between JDP and other parties. The researcher expects that National Rally of Independents would form a convenient majority in alliance with Authenticity and Modernity party added to another ally such as the Constitutional Union.

It is notable that the Authenticity and Modernity Party came in second place with 82 seats. In addition, during the past years, this party has been the main opponent of the MB since it was founded by Fouad Ali El Himma, King Mohammed VI’s advisor, in 2008, before he left in 2011.

Ghbara believes that a government with these three parties would have less weight in terms of the number of portfolios, as well as more share for qualified men, which is a better scenario than a government with more parties where the first party would be forced to satisfy the allies and be subject to blackmail and pressure.

Ghbara points out that the statements of Aziz Akhannouch, the Secretary-General of the National Rally of Independents, that his party is open to all parties may bring a surprise in the coming days.

According to the Moroccan constitution, Mohammed VI, the Moroccan King, is expected to appoint in the coming days a new prime minister from the party that won the elections. It is customary for the Secretary-General of the leading party to be the candidate, and this means appointing Aziz Akhannouch, the Secretary of National Rally of Independents, who has announced his willingness to work with confidence and responsibility with all the parties that share his party principles and programs.

The day after his party won 102 seats, Aziz Akhannouch, head of the National Rally of Independents, has declared his willingness to work with confidence and responsibility with all the parties that share his party principles and programs.

It is worthy mention that Akhannouch is a wealthy businessman, has held the position of Minister of Agriculture since 2007, and is described as close to the palace.

He also participated in the committee established by the late King Hassan II in 1999 to modernize and reform the Moroccan economy. The committee was known at the time as “Group 14”.

Akhannouch’s party had promised to create one million jobs to boost the economy after the Corona pandemic, to expand health insurance for all Moroccans and increase teachers’ salaries, as well as provide pensions for retirees and the elderly.

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