Though final results are not expected until Sunday, initial results are showing that an Islamist party is on track to become the largest party in Morocco’s new parliament.
According to a report in The Associated Press, Morocco’s Interior Ministry announced on Saturday that the Islamist Justice and Development Party has taken 80 seats, almost twice as many as the next most successful party, with 282 seats announced out of the 395 up for grabs in the election which took place Friday.
The country was hit by protests as part of the Arab Spring, prompting the king to order the constitution modified to grant more powers to the Parliament and prime minister and then holding elections a year earlier.
Moroccan activists, however, have said the moves are insincere and called on citizens to boycott the election.
The Islamists’ biggest rivals in the election was a coalition of eight liberal, pro-government parties led by Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, which has amassed more than 111 seats. Under the new constitution the party with the most seats gets first crack at forming a new government.
According to the report by AP, the government announced a 45-percent turnout in Friday’s contest, slightly more than legislative elections in 2007 but still less than local elections in 2009 and the summer's constitutional referendum.
One of the parties in the country chose, for the second time, a Jewish woman to head its national women’s list for the elections.
58-year-old Maguy Kakon, a real-estate consultant, was born in Casablanca to Moroccan Jewish parents. Also known as a writer who describes the lives of the Jews in Morocco, she previously ran in the 2007 elections and managed to generate 30,000 votes. Morocco has had Jews serving in government positions in the past. Andre Azoulay, a Jewish Moroccan, is presently a senior adviser to King Mohammed VI.
The Justice and Development Party’s win marks the second time in the last month that an Islamist party has won parliamentary elections in an Arab Spring country.
Last month, Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda Party took 40 percent of the seats in elections. Meanwhile Egypt, where protests have resumed over the past few days, is set to hold elections on Monday that are also expected to be dominated by Islamist parties.