Morocco Islamists win key urban posts

2015-09-05 21:44
(AP)

(AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rabat - Morocco's ruling Islamist party won most of the country's key cities during Friday's local elections, further expanding its reach after four years of leading a coalition government that undertook major fiscal reforms.

The Justice and Development party, known by its French acronym PJD, came to power on an anti-corruption ticket in 2011, tapping into a desire for greater freedom when "Arab Spring" protests forced King Mohammed to devolve some royal powers.

On Friday, for the first time in its history, the PJD won control of all of Morocco's major cities including the capital Rabat, Casablanca, Tangier, Fez, Marrakesh and Agadir.

Meanwhile, its rivals fielded more candidates and performed more strongly in rural areas.

Election results showed the PJD won 5 021 local or 174 regional assembly seats just behind rivals Authenticity and Modernity Party, or PAM, with 6 655 local and 132 regional seats and conservative Independence Party with 5 106 local and 119 regional seats.

The PJD has long portrayed itself as a fighter against the old guard that has controlled Morocco's politics and economy since it gained independence from France in 1956.

During its years in power, the PJD-led coalition made structural reform, in particular in the realm of public finance, a priority, cutting Morocco's budget deficit, undertaking the reform of a cumbersome subsidy system and freezing public sector jobs.

"We started more than 20 years ago and we have integrated into society and our environment gradually," PJD leader Abdelilah Benkirane told the press late on Friday.

"With opposition, we are just like the ant and grasshopper, we work and they sing."

When pro-democracy uprisings erupted across the Arab world in 2011, Morocco managed to calm protests by carrying out limited reforms but the palace still retains ultimate authority.

Fez

The PJD's other partners in the coalition, such as the center-right National Rally of Independents (RNI) and the Popular movement (MP), are closer to a royal establishment ill at ease at sharing power with Islamists.

Among their notable gains, the Islamists managed to take Fez, a bastion of the Independence Party and its populist leader Hamid Chabat, who left the ruling coalition in 2013 and contested the PJD's economic policies.

"Since 1960, for the first time a key party wins elections in the big cities," Maati Monjib, a historian and political scientist in the university of Rabat said.

"Although the PJD was against the Arab spring protests, they have taken advantage of it by presenting themselves as opponents from inside the system."

Benkirane's party also managed to hold off a greater challenge from its fiercest adversary, the PAM. That group was created in 2008 by a close friend and adviser of the king, Fouad Ali El Himma, to counter the PJD.

Turnout on Friday was 53.67% almost the same as in the last local elections in 2009.

Read more on:    pjd  |  morocco  |  north africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.