The four main parties to watch in Morocco's election

AFP , Friday 25 Nov 2011

Four parties are expected to take the main share of the vote in Morocco's legislative ‎election on Friday, and could likely be the ones to form a unity government

JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT PARTY (PJD)

The PJD, which calls itself an Islamist and "monarchist" party, has 47 seats in parliament and is the main opposition to the ruling Independence Party.

After winning just eight seats in 1997, the moderate Islamist party has surged in popularity, scooping 42 seats in the 2002 election, the first of King Mohamed VI's reign, and then increasing its share in 2007.

PJD is likely to boost the number of seats it has in parliament in Friday's election and some observers believe it could even emerge as the most the most voted party.

But party leader Abdelilah Benkirane cuts a controversial figure for previously derogatory comments about Berber people and homosexuals.

In 2010 he tried to ban a concert in Morocco by the openly gay singer Elton John because of fears of encouraging homosexuality.

The party initially focused on social issues, such as opposition to summer music festivals and the sale of alcohol, but has shifted to issues with broader voter appeal like the fight against corruption and high unemployment.

It promises to cut poverty in half and raise the minimum wage by 50 percent.

 

INDEPENDENCE PARTY

Along with the PJD, the Independence Party of Morocco's current Prime Minister Abbas el Fassi, is a favourite to win the most votes on Friday.

The party has headed a five-party coalition government since it became the largest in parliament at the last election with 52 seats.

It was founded in 1944 in opposition to French rule over Morocco, making it one of Morocco's oldest and best established parties.

Socially conservative and economically liberal, the party has formed part of numerous government coalitions over the past decades.

Its role in Morocco's independence struggle gives it a special place in the heart of many Moroccans, especially among the older generation.

The party has indicated it would accept to form a government coalition with the PJD.

 

AUTHENTICITY AND MODERNITY PARTY (PAM)

The party was founded in 2008 -- a year after the last election -- by a number of politicians close to King Mohamed VI, including his old classmate Fouad Ali el Himma.

It subsequently became the most voted party in local elections in 2009, capturing 21.7 percent of the vote, just ahead of the governing Independence Party.

PAM has 55 parliamentary seats even though it did not take part in the 2007 legislative elections as politicians from several other parties defected to it after it was created.

It is part of the Alliance for Democracy, a loose eight-party pro-monarchy electoral bloc formed in October in what was seen as a bid to counter the expected rise of the PJD.

 

NATIONAL RALLY OF INDEPENDENTS (RNI)

The strongest party along with PAM in the Alliance for Democracy, the RNI is led by Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar. It considers itself reformist and includes in its ranks technocrats and well-known persons.

With 38 seats in parliament it is well established in the country.

It is one of the five parties that make up the outgoing governing coalition led by the Independence Party.

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