Morocco: Observers: Moroccan election overall fair, but turnout low | Associated Press

Voting in Morocco last week was largely free and fair, the country’s election observer body said Sunday, but it is investigating some cases of vote-buying and expressed concern about low turnout. The moderate Islamist Party of Justice and Development won Friday’s legislative election, beating out a party with close ties to the royal palace after an unusually hostile campaign. The PJD, which has led a coalition government since it first won elections in 2011 on a wave of Arab Spring protests, is now working on building a new coalition with rival parties. The Interior Ministry said the PJD won 125 of the 395 seats in the Chamber of Representatives, while the Party of Authenticity and Modernity, founded by an adviser to the king, came second with 102 seats.

Morocco: Moderate Islamists win election, coalition talks seen tough | Reuters

Morocco’s moderate Islamists have won parliamentary elections, beating a rival party critics say is too close to the royal palace in a tight race that will complicate negotiations to form a coalition government. The government has only limited powers, but Friday’s ballot for the House of Representatives was a test for the constitutional monarchy five years after Mohammed VI devolved some authority to ease protests for democratic change. After five years in government, the Justice and Development Party (PJD) won 125 seats while the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) party took 102, according to final results announced by the interior minister on Saturday. The conservative Istiqlal party took 46 seats.

Morocco: Neither main party will really win as Moroccans vote | The Washington Post

On Friday, Morocco will hold its second parliamentary elections since the constitutional changes that followed the Arab Spring protests led by the Feb. 20 movement in 2011. The Party of Justice and Development (PJD), a moderate Islamist-oriented party which has led a coalition government since then, seeks to defend its lead against its chief rival, the Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM), founded by Fouad Ali El Himma, a close friend and adviser to King Mohammed VI. What’s at stake in this battle? The short answer: not much. There are good reasons to be skeptical that the outcome of the election will alter the political landscape in a meaningful way. Political science wisdom on democratic institutions sheds light on the limitations that confront all political parties in Morocco, whether they gain or lose seats in this week’s elections. Approximately 30 parties compete for the parliament’s 395 seats, 90 of which are reserved for women and candidates under 40. The number of parties complicates alliance formation: To create a coalition, the leading party must bring together parties with differing priorities and constituencies, which is no easy task. Competition weakens parties’ ability to present unified policies.

Morocco: Disillusioned Moroccan voters to snub parliamentary election | AFP

Morocco heads to the polls Friday, and yet there is hardly any trace of the looming general election in the sprawling port city of three million. Campaign posters are few and far between, restricted to authorised locations. A handful of campaigners go door-to-door, canvassing for the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), which hopes to oust the ruling Justice and Democracy Party (PJD). The local branch of Istiqlal, one of Morocco’s oldest parties, is eerily deserted. The apparently muted campaign reflects widespread disillusion with political parties in a country where the monarchy still wields considerable power and low turnout rates are common. During the last election in 2011, 55% of eligible voters failed to cast their ballots. The previous vote, in 2008, saw abstention reach 63%.

Morocco: Authorities say they foiled suicide attack plan for election day | Reuters

Moroccan authorities said on Tuesday they had foiled a planned suicide attack on Oct. 7 parliamentary elections after the arrest of a suspected Islamic State militant cell of 10 women earlier this week. The Interior Ministry said on Monday that for the first time a group of female suspects had been arrested, the latest in series of militant cells the North African kingdom says it has broken up. Morocco is holding a parliamentary election on Friday in which the Islamist PJD party is favored to win after five years leading the ruling coalition in a constitutional monarchy where the king remains the ultimate authority. “One of the women was seeking more visibility and was planning an operation on the election day,” Abdelhak Khayyam, head of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), the judicial arm of the domestic intelligence service, told reporters in Rabat. “It was a suicide attack and we found bomb-making materials,” he said, without giving further details.

Morocco: Tensions within Moroccan government heat up as election nears | Reuters

Tensions have erupted between Morocco’s royal establishment and the Islamist ruling party, with the Islamist justice minister complaining of “weird” goings-on in the run-up to a parliamentary election next month. Mustapha Ramid accused his government colleague Mohammed Hassad, a technocrat appointed by the royal palace as interior minister, of monopolizing decisions on organizing the election and failing to consult with the justice ministry. Unlike rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya who were overthrown in Arab Spring revolutions in 2011, Morocco’s King Mohamed rode out popular protests while ceding some authority to the government, which has been led for the past five years by the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD). But the coming election is straining the delicate political balance in the country of 34 million people by exacerbating divisions between the palace and the PJD.

Morocco: Elections pose test for law on vote observers | Associated Press

Morocco’s elections next month will draw attention from around the region and beyond — but not all eyes will be welcome. Election authorities approved 4,000 national and international observers for the Oct. 7 legislative elections, rejecting requests for about 1,000 others, as new regulations on vote monitors are being put to the test. Among those rejected were observers from the U.S.-based Carter Center. More than 30 political parties are running in the elections, which will determine the makeup of the government and political direction of the kingdom, a U.S. ally and important regional economy. It’s only the second time Moroccans are voting for parliament since thousands took to the streets in 2011 demanding reform through the February 20th Movement. Since then, a coalition of several parties led by the Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) has governed, coming to power alongside a new constitution and new laws intended to meet the demands for reform.

Morocco: Election results brings hope to the region | Middle East Monitor

In the context of the struggle between the waves of revolution and counter-revolution in the MENA region Morocco witnessed local and regional elections this week, the first after the constitution amendments of 2011. The elections, held on 4 September, are also the first since 2011 in which political actors agreed on a final version of the regionalisation project, whereby each of the country’s 12 regions will be led by an elected council with wide economic, human, infrastructural, environmental and cultural development capacities. In a sense, the 2015 elections mark another step in the post-Arab spring Morocco and another opportunity to examine the outcome of the country’s “reform under stability” paradigm. The lesson for Morocco is that the potential failure of the paradigm will immediately tarnish the whole diplomatic, political and reform effort that started in 2011. In the run up to the elections, Morocco feared that foreign pressure would restrict the participation of Islamists in a free and fair way. That pressure was eventually diminished through a tandem of internal and external factors; while the former manifested itself in governmental reforms, the latter included the change in the Saudi leadership, the eruption of the war in Yemen and the signing of the Iran nuclear deal. These events pushed local actors to shift the focus away from curbing the outcome of the Arab Spring, especially since attempts to smother the post-Arab Spring nascent democracies has generated chaos across the region. The difficult lesson of the past four years has been that it is despotism that threatens stability in the region, not respecting public will.

Morocco: Amid boycott calls Morocco prepares for local elections | Al Jazeera

Volunteers were knocking on doors in the residential neighbourhood of Agdal in Rabat on Wednesday to drum up votes amid a political malaise that has gripped the country in recent years. The volunteers were members of the Democratic Leftist Federation, a coalition of groups headed by Nabila Mounib, leader of the Unified Socialist Party, running a campaign called “vivre ensemble”, or live together. “We abandoned politics because we didn’t trust anyone any more and we didn’t think elections could make a difference,” said Fouzia El Hamidi, 60, a member of the federation who wore a white shirt bearing the image of the yellow envelope symbol that represented the coalition. “We are running a campaign of transparency and honesty.” On Friday, Moroccans go to the polls to choose among 300,000 candidates from 36 parties for their local representatives. Among the frontrunners are the Justice and Development Party (PJD), which leads the country’s coalition government, and the Authenticity and Modernity Party, a group close to King Mohammed VI.

Morocco: Elections challenged by voter mistrust | Yahoo! News

It should be a moment of excitement: Moroccans are choosing a parliament in elections Friday prompted by the Arab Spring’s clamor for freedom. Yet there are few signs here that elections are even taking place. Posters and raucous rallies for candidates are absent in the cities and instead there are just stark official banners urging citizens to “do their national duty” and “participate in the change the country is undergoing.”

“The parties have presented the same people for the past 30 years, the least they could do is change their candidates,” said Hassan Rafiq, a vegetable vendor in the capital Rabat, who said he didn’t plan to vote. Like elsewhere in the Arab world, Moroccans hit the streets in the first half of 2011 calling for more democracy, and King Mohammed VI responded by amending the constitution and bringing forward elections. But since then the sense of change has dissipated.

Morocco: First parliamentary elections since protests | CNN

Moroccans went to the polls Friday in the country’s first parliamentary elections since adopting a new constitution following mass protests over unemployment and corruption. Turnout in the North African country was 45%, the Interior Ministry said. Both Parliament and the prime minister have greater powers under the new constitution, while the monarch’s sway has been slightly lessened.

More than 300 international observers monitored the voting, alongside 3,500 Moroccan observers, the semiofficial Le Matin newspaper reported. Morocco’s moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) is expected to do well in the vote.

Morocco: Morocco votes in test of king’s reform promises | France 24

Moroccans voted in a parliamentary election on Friday that could yield their most representative government ever, after King Mohammed ceded some powers to prevent any tumultuous spillover of Arab Spring uprisings.

The election will be a litmus test of the ability of Arab monarchies to craft reforms that  would placate popular yearning for greater democracy without violence-ridden revolts of the sort seen in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Syria this year.

Morocco: Election faces low turnout despite new constitution |

Moroccans go to the polls in an Arab Spring-inspired election that faces a boycott by democracy campaigners who say the ruling monarchy is not committed to real change. A moderate Islamist party and a pro-palace coalition are expected to do well in the voting, but a key test for the authorities’ legitimacy will be how many voters cast ballots. The result will be watched by Morocco’s US and other western allies, as well as European tourists who visit its beaches and resorts.

Morocco’s reputation as a stable democracy in North Africa has been damaged by this year’s protests. And its once-steady economy is creaking from the amount of money the government has pumped into raising salaries and subsidies to keep people calm amid the turmoil in the region.

Morocco: Morocco Votes in First Ballot Since Reform of Parliament | NYTimes

Under pressure from the Arab Spring uprisings, King Mohammed VI of Morocco proposed a new constitution last summer providing for a more empowered Parliament. On Friday, voters went to the polls to determine its makeup.

The new constitution reserves critical powers for the throne, which retains absolute authority over military and religious matters. But while still appointed by the king, the prime minister must be chosen from the party with the most seats in Parliament.

Morocco: Elections challenged by voter mistrust | San Francisco Chronicle

It should be a moment of excitement: Moroccans are choosing a parliament in elections Friday prompted by the Arab Spring’s clamor for freedom. Yet there are few signs here that elections are even taking place. Posters and raucous rallies for candidates are absent in the cities and instead there are just stark official banners urging citizens to “do their national duty” and “participate in the change the country is undergoing.”

“The parties have presented the same people for the past 30 years, the least they could do is change their candidates,” said Hassan Rafiq, a vegetable vendor in the capital Rabat, who said he didn’t plan to vote.

Like elsewhere in the Arab world, Moroccans hit the streets in the first half of 2011 calling for more democracy, and King Mohammed VI responded by amending the constitution and bringing forward elections. But since then the sense of change has dissipated.

Morocco: Thousands of Moroccans make final boycott call 5 days before elections | The Washington Post

Thousands of Moroccans from the pro-democracy movement made a final call Sunday to boycott upcoming elections with protests across the country. At least 3,000 people marched through the capital Rabat and another 4,000 chanted demonstrated in Casablanca, the country’s largest city. Demonstrations took place in other cities across the country as well.

Anti-government protesters hold Moroccan national flag, left, and the 20th February movement flag in red black and white during a rally organized by the 20th February, the Moroccan Arab Spring movement in Casablanca, Morocco, Sunday, Nov 20, 2011, in a mass popular call to bring more democracy into this North African kingdom. Some thousands of Moroccans from the pro-democracy movement braved pouring rain and high winds in Casablanca to make a final call to boycott upcoming elections.

Morocco: Activists call for election boycott | HeraldOnline

Thousands of pro-democracy activists demonstrated in Morocco’s largest city calling for a boycott of parliamentary elections less than two weeks away. The demonstrations comes as a parliamentary delegation from the Council of Europe noted there was little enthusiasm in the country just two weeks before the election and said there was worry about the level of participation.

“I’m boycotting, how about you?” said stickers carried by many of the activists as they marched through a working class district in Casablanca. Morocco’s parliamentary elections will be held early as part of a government-initiated reform process in the North African kingdom, which is a close U.S. ally.

Morocco: Morocco’s New Constitution and Upcoming General Elections |

It was under the watch of the government of Abbas Fassi that a New or a completely revamped constitution emerged out of the blue precipitated by the ‘Arab Spring’ and considered revolutionary by some and more of the same by others. It was put to a referendum on 1 July 2011 and was accepted by 98% of the 74% of the people who made it to the ballot box. This kind of results might seem bizarre to us in West, but Arabs and Muslims always claim their singularity and uniqueness from the outside world as they fail to see the other.

However, this apart, the most important innovative change made is that of the role of the Prime Minister, who becomes the President of Government and is given to the party with majority votes at elections, a great improvement of the previous ones, bringing this nomination in line to what is generally recognized as one of the principles of democracy. In other words, now the king can no longer choose any prime minster as it used to be the case, but must respect the will of the people through elections and name the new president of the government from the party that received the most votes.

Morocco: Islamists await their turn ahead of elections | The Daily Star

With Islamist on the doorstep to power in Tunisia, it is now Morocco’s turn to go to the polls in elections that despite the low turnout expected, will likely bring religion closer to government. But unlike votes in Tunisia and Egypt, which served as climatic final acts in revolutions that surprised the world, the November 25 polling day in Morocco is likely to be a subdued affair.

Last summer, spurred into action as autocrats fell across the Arab world, the king of Morocco Mohammed VI hastily called a referendum asking Moroccans to decide on a new political system that would see the monarch ceding prerogatives. In the July vote, more than 98 percent of Moroccans approved the political reforms and a call for early legislative elections quickly followed.

Morocco: Moroccans protest polls, violence in the capital | Top News | Reuters

Thousands of Moroccans demonstrated in cities across the country on Sunday, calling for a boycott of early parliamentary polls next month whose outcome will be key to the future of reforms crafted by the royal palace. The protests are the latest in a series of regular peaceful demonstrations by the youth-led opposition February 20 Movement, inspired by uprisings that ousted leaders in Tunisia and Egypt to demand a parliamentary monarchy and punishment for officials accused of graft.

In the capital Rabat, a Reuters reporter saw dozens of riot police with truncheons beating and kicking protesters who had gathered in front of the parliament building at the end of a march by around 3,000 people. A local elected official in the country’s biggest city, Casablanca, said about 8,000 people took part in a similar protest there. Several thousand took part in protests in other cities including Fes and Tangier.

Morocco: Islamist group calls for election boycott | Ahram Online

Morocco’s popular Islamist Justice and Benevolence movement on Tuesday called for a boycott of 25 November parliamentary polls called by the king in response to pro-democracy protests.

“We call on the Moroccan people to boycott this process based on lies and illusions,” the movement, which is not officially recognised but tolerated by the authorities, said in a statement. “We also call on Morocco’s political, intellectual and economic elite to follow the February 20 movement, which is the movement of the people.”

The February 20 Movement, which takes its name from its first day of protest, was inspired by pro-democracy groups that have sprung up across the Arab world this year. Tuesday’s announcement is the latest boycott call of the November polls. In September Morocco’s opposition Unified Socialist Party announced that it would boycott the election, joining two far-left parties.

Egypt: Journalists undergo training on election coverage

Training on election coverage – The UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and The New York Times Knowledge Network are collaborating to train Tunisian, Egyptian, Moroccan, US and French journalists on covering elections in their respective countries.

A statement by UNAOC on Tuesday, stated: ‘Ahead of the imminent elections in Tunisia and Egypt, UNAOC is working with The New York Times Knowledge Network, which offers online adult and continuing education opportunities, to provide a six-week online course to Tunisian, Egyptian, Moroccan, French and American journalists and journalism students.’ It said that, ‘each of the aforementioned countries is expected to enter major parliamentary or presidential elections in the next 12 months.

Morocco: Moroccan civil society monitors elections online (

From text messages to Facebook and Twitter, new resources are available to Moroccans to exercise their civil rights. To take advantage of the interactivity and ubiquity of information technology, the Moroccan Human Rights Association (OMDH) recently created a website to serve as an online monitoring centre for the kingdom’s November 25th legislative elections.

Launched September 26th in a trial version, is a platform that enables people to find information on the elections. In addition, it allows citizens and observers to monitor the vote by reporting and learning about incidents, failures or irregularities associated with the election process. The full site is set to go live a month before the poll.

“This year, given the changes occurring across the region and the importance of the internet as a citizenship tool, we decided to explore digital technology and new media,” said Mounir Bensalah, an observer and member of the Marsad team.

Morocco: Electoral list quotas draw criticism |

The representation of women and youth in Morocco’s next parliament will increase three-fold, the interior ministry and political parties recently agreed. Sixty seats have been reserved for women and thirty for candidates under the age of forty, according to the bill passed by the Council of Ministers on Friday (September 9th).

The list system is such that parties make a list of candidates and voters choose from among those lists as opposed to electing each individual politician to office. Candidates will be elected from party lists, and the election barrier has been lowered to 3% to allow smaller parties to be represented in parliament.

The decision, however, triggered a flurry of negative reactions from activists. Some see it as a violation of the principle of equal opportunity, while others say the bill does not go far enough.

Morocco: Partido Popular Opposes Granting vote to Moroccans | Gibraltar Chronicle

Partido Popular wants to prevent Moroccan migrants resident in Ceuta and Melilla from voting in local elections in 2015. The party said the right to vote could not be granted to the citizens of a country that has a territorial claim over the two Spanish enclaves, both of which are governed by the PP.

Party officials were speaking after Morocco approved a new Constitution on July 1 that allows foreign residents to vote in local elections. Four days later, Spain’s Foreign Minister, Trinidad Jiménez, said Spain would sign agreements to ensure that right was reciprocated.

Morocco: Protesters reject Moroccan referendum – allege irregularities in voting procedures | Middle East |

Protesters from Morocco’s ‘February 20’ movement march against the results of a referendum that backed constitutional changes put forward by King Mohammed. Simon Hanna reports. Moroccan protesters take to the streets to denounce the results of last week’s constitutional referendum.

Preliminary results of the poll showed that 98.5 percent of voters approved the changes proposed by King Mohammed.

Morocco: Moroccans Vote on Draft Constitution That Gives More Power to Parliament | Bloomberg

Moroccans vote in a referendum today on a draft constitution drawn up at the orders of King Mohammed VI, with activists who demand a reduction in the monarch’s powers calling for a boycott of the vote.

Under the proposal, the prime minister would be chosen from the party that wins elections. The king would retain the power to overrule or dissolve the parliament, and his role as “commander of the faithful” in the Islamic country. Polls open at 8 a.m. local time and close at 7 p.m., with 13 million people eligible to vote. It’s not clear when results will be announced.