Friday, October 07, 2016

Election Day in Morocco

Friday, October 7 is legislative election day in Morocco These are the second elections to be held since the reforms of the 2011 Constitution and the tenth since independance. Expert commentators suggest it will be a struggle between two of the major parties - the PJD and PAM. Others in the mix for opposition will be the old Istiqlal and RNI or the FGD, which wants to establish itself as a third-way and revive the left. There are thirty parties taking part in the election

Less than half of the population or some 15.7 million Moroccans are registered on electoral lists. The voting takes place in 92 constituencies to elect 395 deputies, including 305 under local constituencies.

Of critical importance will be the participation rate; in 2011 it was barely 45.3% of the 13.6 million voters registered on the electoral roll at that time.

On social networks, many Moroccans living abroad (MRE) complained of not being able to participate directly in elections, having to settle for proxy voting. The question of the vote of MREs and their representation in parliament was the subject of a long debate between political parties and the Ministry of Interior, which cited several obstacles to a direct vote of the MRE.

For Istiqlal's Hamid Chabat it may well be a close shave

Meanwhile the candidates are going to great lengths to endear themselves to the public by staging photo-opportunities. If there was a prize for generating the widest range of photo-ops it would probably go to Hamid Chabat, secretary general of the Istiqlal party who tops the list of the candidates in the Fez North constituency. In various shots, he has appeared with a mechanic, before going to a hairdresser where he was photographed wielding the the barber's scissors. Then he was shown preparing donuts and drinking yogurt.

PAM (Party of Authenticity and Modernity) brought out "the PAM Girls" with plate after plate of food.

There are 37 national and international bodies, including 31 national associations, accredited to observe the elections, in addition to the Observers of the National Council for Human Rights.

Polling stations opened this morning at 8am and, according to a statement from the Interior Ministry, there have been no problems.  The identity of voters is be based on the national ID card and after voting people's thumbs are marked with indelible ink.

The Interior Minister Mohamed Assad will make a live television report either at 10:30 or 11 p.m.

At the end of the day only one thing is certain - there will be a lot of cleaning up to do. The littering of the streets by party supporters has drawn anger from a large number of people on social media. It was certainly not the right image for a country where the "Zero Mika" (no plastic) campaign was hailed as progressive and socially responsible. It is highly unlikely that the politicians will pitch in and help clean up the mess they created - all of which is, as one young Moroccan said on Twitter, is "situation normal".


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