Conservatives win Morocco polls: Official results

Morocco's conservative Istiqlal party won the most seats in parliamentary elections, setting it up for a leading role in the next government, according to final results released by the government on Monday.

Conservatives win Morocco polls: Official results
Morocco's conservative Istiqlal party won the most seats in parliamentary elections, setting it up for a leading role in the next government, according to final results released by the government on Monday.

Istiqlal (Independence), a member of the former ruling coalition, won 52 seats, ahead of the opposition Islamist Justice and Development party (PJD) with 46 seats, the Interior Ministry said.

The results were little changed from provisional figures released on Saturday.

The right-wing Popular Movement (MP) and centre-ground National Rally of Independents (RNI) won 41 and 39 seats respectively, while the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), Istiqlal's main coalition partner, won 38.

The parliamentary polls were the second of King Mohammed's nine-year reign and saw 33 parties vie with dozens of independents for seats in the 325-member lower house.

Islamist PJD had hoped to take the top spot and a role in the next government. When it became clear the party would only take second place it accused unnamed opponents of buying votes to skew the results.

The government dismissed the claim but said it would examine any evidence.

A complex voting system made it almost impossible for any group to win an outright majority, and whatever the outcome, real power will remain with the king, who is executive head of state, military chief and religious leader.

Istiqlal's Koutla alliance with the USFP and the smaller Progress and Socialism Party (PPS) remained the country's leading political force.

"The Moroccan people recognized the achievements of the outgoing government and renewed their support," said Istiqlal leader Abbas el Fassi.

"We are waiting for the king's decision on who will be prime minister. We will consult with our Koutla allies."

The final figures showed a record-low turnout of 37 percent, an apparent snub of a political system whose leaders are widely seen as aloof and out of touch.

The parliamentary elections were orderly and professional but marked by isolated irregularities, foreign election observers said.

"Generally speaking the vote took place in an orderly fashion, even if members of the delegation were witness to or were informed of isolated irregularities on election day," said a statement by a multinational team deployed by the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

Friday's vote was characterized by "strict transparency and professionalism" but the low turnout showed the need for further work to entrench representative democracy, it added in a provisional statement released on Saturday.

The polls were Morocco's first elections monitored by foreign observers.

Reuters
Last Mod: 10 Eylül 2007, 14:18
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