Islamists Gain Ground in Morocco Elections

Morocon Man Casts Ballot AP PhotoAbdeljalil Bounhar
AP/Abdeljalil Bounhar

Morocco’s Islamist party – which is actually called that, their proper name being the “Islamist Party for Justice and Development” – did extremely well in this weekend’s elections, particularly in urban areas.

They won 25 percent of the total seats at stake, faring worst in rural areas with more autonomous control, but winning control of “most of the country’s key cities” according to Reuters, including all of the famed urban centers: the capital of Rabat, Tangier, Fez, Marrakesh, Agadir, and yes, Casablanca.

“The elections were seen as an important test of the popularity of the Islamist-led government which came to power after the pro-democracy demonstrations of the 2011 Arab Spring and face new parliamentary elections next year,” the Associated Press writes.  Is that what our media and political leaders thought the “Arab Spring” would be about, back in 2011?  Islamic supremacists coming to power?

The AP notes that unlike similar groups in neighboring countries, “Morocco’s Islamists have played down religious issues in their campaigns and preferred to focus on combatting corruption and unemployment.”

Their rise is seen as a reaction to corruption in the monarchy and its pet party, the Party of Authenticity and Modernity, which was created by one of the King’s counselors. Reuters credits them with “cutting Morocco’s budget deficit, undertaking the reform of a cumbersome subsidy system and freezing public sector jobs.”