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%.
Like many Moroccans, Kamal Salmi and his wife Hind Benkirane plan to shun Friday’s polls. “We don’t trust the parties; they just talk and do nothing,” says this Casablancan couple while strolling on the city’s famed seaside promenade. “We voted for many years, but nothing ever happened.”
Salmi, a salesman and father of two, is worried about his children’s future. “Politicians should have other priorities, such as the health services. What is going on in our hospitals is catastrophic,” he says. “Education is another problem. Poor families have to send their children to state schools, which are not good. We pay for our children to attend a private school. We don’t expect anything from the state.”
His view is shared by 50-year-old housewife Zina Bacri, whose son is one of many Moroccan youths struggling to find work despite a university degree. “My son has been at home for the past three years, unable to find a job,” she says. “Nothing ever changes, so I’m not going to vote.”