- Title: Moroccans to vote in election contest between Islamists, liberals
- Date: 6th October 2016
- Summary: FLYERS ON ROAD SUPPORTERS OF ISTIQLAL PARTY AND RNI (LEFT TO RIGHT) CAMPAIGNING ON SAME STREET
- Embargoed: 21st October 2016 10:36
- Keywords: Morocco election vote Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) Authenticity and Modernity party (PAM)
- Location: RABAT, KENITRA AND SALE, MOROCCO
- City: RABAT, KENITRA AND SALE, MOROCCO
- Country: Morocco
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA00852VA1C7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Moroccans vote on Friday (October 7) in only the second parliamentary election since the king relinquished some of his powers to an elected cabinet in 2011 under a constitutional reform to help ease Arab Spring-style protests demanding change.
The Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) is favoured to win after five years leading the ruling coalition in a constitutional monarchy where the king remains the ultimate authority.
The party is popular for its anti-corruption stance, but it has also pushed an austerity programme that has helped overhaul public finances.
"The Justice and Development Party has made laudable efforts over the past five years and has achieved important results in the fields of economics, social, political and management sectors. It is expected that Moroccans will vote hugely in favour of the Justice and Development Party," said the chairman of PJD's national council, Saad Eddine El-Othmani, during a party rally in Rabat on Monday (September 26).
More than its North African neighbours, Morocco has been praised by multilateral lenders for controlling the high public spending and subsidised welfare systems that have plagued the region for years, even before the Arab Spring uprisings prompted governments to ramp up spending.
But Morocco's election system means no one party can win outright, forcing the winner into coalition talks.
The PJD is facing stiff competition from the Modernity and Authenticity Party (PAM), which was only established in 2008, but in less than 10 years has managed to top the most recent local elections.
Led by Ilyas El Omari, a former leftist turned liberal, the right wing party is hoping to clinch first place in the Moroccan political spectrum from the PJD.
"I say change and change now because we are living through a serious economic, social and political crisis. It was admitted by the government, the head of the government and the governmental institutions themselves. If Moroccans do not bring about this change now, God forbid, in the future we may be living on the brink of bankruptcy," El Omari said at a party rally in Kenitra on Tuesday (October 4).
Campaigning for the October 7 vote has strained the delicate political balance in the country by exacerbating splits between the palace and the PJD, with whom many palace supporters have been reluctant to share power.
The PJD and its junior ally have accused the establishment of favouring the PAM. The palace says the king maintains the same distance from all parties.
Like most major parties, the Popular Movement Party (PM) is a staunch defender of rural areas and the Amazigh (Berber) language. Through its youth branch, PM is encouraging younger voters to get involved in the country's political life.
Nearly half of Morocco's 16 million registered voters are expected to take part in the vote to elect 395 representatives for the lower house of parliament.
More than 3,000 national and 92 international observers will be on duty on Friday to ensure the election is fair and transparent.
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