Islamists Face Defeat After A Decade Under King Mohamed VI

The interior ministry in Morocco announced Thursday that the pro-business party close to the monarch, the National Rally of Independents (RNI), won the 2021 legislative elections with 97 out of 395 seats of Moroccan Parliament. The elections witnessed the crushing defeat of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), taking only 12 seats down from 125 seats in the last elections in 2016.

The Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) followed the National Rally of Independents (RNI) winning 82 seats out of 395 seats of the Moroccan parliament.

The two moderate parties celebrat­­ed victory on Thursday in Moroccan elections.

The Islamist Justice and Development (PJD) is a conservative Islamic-democratic party established in 1967. It is headed by Saadeddine Othmani. As the National Rally of Independents (RNI) won the elections, it ended a 10-year coalition government led by the Islamists.

PJD won the legislative elections in 2011 during the Arab Spring within the growing wave of political Islam in the region. In 2016, the party won the next legislative elections, forming a coalition government that fills most of the ministerial posts.

The RNI was created in 1978 and composed of businessmen, technocrats, and high civil servants.

The party is headed by the billionaire businessman Aziz Akhannouch who was the minister of Agriculture and Fisheries in the previous government coalition. He is the second richest man in Morocco after the King. According to Forbes, his fortune is worth $2 billion.

Moreover, his wife, Idrisi Akhannouch, is a well-known and powerful businesswoman in Morocco, directing Aksal group which controls 50% of Morocco Mall, one of the biggest shopping center chains in Africa.

The political system in Morocco is a Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy, where the monarch, the highest authority, and the Commander of the Faithful (Amir Al Mou’minin), have the authority to choose the prime minister from the winning party in the legislative elections.

The PJD didn’t just suffer defeat, but a resounding fall,” said Abderrahim Elaalam, a constitutional law professor at Al Cadi Ayad University in Marrakech.

The party’s loss cannot be isolated from the international context, which is witnessing the decline of political Islam in general, but this fall was not expected at all, both from the party itself and even from its fiercest opponents,” Elaalam added.

What happened in Morocco is a repeated scenario to what happened in Tunisia. When President Qais Saed froze the parliament that is controlled by Islamic Party ‘El Nahda’, the decision was met with jubilation on the streets.

The fall of the Islamic governments in the region is proof that political Islam is in decline, proving their failure to achieve stability and prosperity and that democracy is not the best option for the Middle East as was propagated by the West.

Morocco being under the PJD for 10 years, witnessed a large gap between the Moroccan people and the government. The government was indifferent to Moroccans’ daily struggle.

It also showed a negative stance towards the decision to normalize ties with Israel in December 2020 and legalize cannabis.

The citizens showed a great desire for change, after 10 years with the Islamist party in power. They expressed their dissatisfaction with the lack of major changes and the continued dwindling of their purchasing power and the suffering of large segments of the population from poverty.” Elaalam said.

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