Abdelilah Benkirane, sec-gen of Morocco's PJD 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
RABAT - Morocco's moderate Islamist PJD party won the most seats in the country's parliamentary election, final results showed on 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 on 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
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
"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