Global media is reporting that the Moroccan Justice and Development Party (PJD) has won parliamentary elections in a victory over a rival party said to be close to the country’s king. According to a Reuters report which follows much of the media in describing the PJD as “moderate Islamists”:
October 8, 2016 Morocco’s moderate Islamists have won parliamentary elections, beating a rival party critics say is too close to the royal palace in a tight race that will complicate negotiations to form a coalition government.
The government has only limited powers, but Friday’s ballot for the House of Representatives was a test for the constitutional monarchy five years after Mohammed VI devolved some authority to ease protests for democratic change.
After five years in government, the Justice and Development Party (PJD) won 125 seats while the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) party took 102, according to final results announced by the interior minister on Saturday.
The conservative Istiqlal party took 46 seats.
Under Morocco’s system no party can win an outright majority in the 395-seat parliament and the winner must form a coalition government.
The king, who retains most executive power, chooses a premier from the winning party, but building a coalition promises to be tough for the PJD.
With its main rival PAM scoring high and ruling out an alliance, the Islamists potentially need to partner with at least three other parties to secure a majority.
Since being appointed prime minister in 2011, PJD leader Abdelilah Benkirane has pursued economic reforms to reduce the budget deficit and tackle subsidies. The PJD has been popular for its anti-corruption message.
“The PJD has proven today that being serious and truthful … and being faithful to the institutions, especially the monarchy, is a winning currency,” Benkirane told reporters.
PAM, founded by a close friend of the king who is now a palace adviser, had presented itself as a liberal alternative to Islamists. Critics say it was used by the royal establishment, always uncomfortable with sharing power with Islamists, to roll back PJD influence.
“We were expecting more seats but … our modernist project has done well despite all attacks,” Khalid Adnoun, PAM spokesman said. “There will be no alliance with PJD. If they get their coalition, we will be in the opposition”.
Read the rest here.
In September 2015, the GMBDW reported that the PJD had tripled its share of seats in local elections.
One week earlier and following the pattern of other regional Brotherhood affiliates, the PJD Secretary General issued the latest denial that the party had had any connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. According to a local media report:
October 1, 2016 Rabat In an interview with the Moroccan French-speaking news source, Le360, Abdelilah Benkirane, the leader of the PJD and head of the current government, denied all connections with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Tunisia, and other Muslim countries.
The interview host began the interview by asking Benkirane about the reason behind his desire to speak in French in the interview. Benkirane responded that there is a segment of the Moroccan population that speaks French, and that is exposed to ‘poisonous’ French-speaking news sources.
‘I have the impression that there is a segment of the Moroccan population that is Francophone, which is somehow exposed to some sort of intoxication concerning my person and the PJD,’ states Mr. Benkirane.
The interviewer then asked Mr. Benkirane if the PJD is a copy of the Muslim Brotherhood in Morocco. Benkirane denied the connection, saying, ‘It is part of the intoxication’ of the Moroccan media:
‘It has been over 30 years that I’m repeating this to those who want to listen. Not only we are different from the Muslim Brotherhood, but also we have no relationship with them. We don’t resemble them. In our beginning, in the 1970’s, we read the books of the Muslim Brotherhood, and we are not embarrassed to say it. But later we evolved into what we are now.’
Abdelilah Benkirane continued that those who started the rumor have overused all the accusations and concoctions against him and his party, and have now resorted to such claims before the elections.
‘They are trying to convince people that the difference between us and other parties is ideological, that is between conservatives and modernists. It is not true,’ he said.
In January 2015, the GMBDW reported an earlier denial by Benkirane that his party “belongs” to the Muslim Brotherhood. In February 2013 Benkirane also denied that his party belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Despite these denials, there is ample evidence that the PJD is indeed close to the Global Muslim Brotherhood. This evidence includes:
- In December 2011 Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi was among the first of the Islamic scholars to congratulate the Justice and Development Party (JDP) on its parliamentary victory in June of that year.
- In March 2011, a JDP leader was one of the participants at a conference that brought together an unusual and significant number of participants from the Global Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Brotherhood, and other Islamist movements that also included Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood.
- In May 2015, the GMBDW reported that that PJD Secretary-General Abdelilah Benkirane was scheduled to participate in an Al Jazeera forum that featured Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, And Islamist speakers.
- In June 2015, the GMBDW reported that Mustafa Al Rumaid, the Moroccan Minister of Justice and leader of the PJD, spoke at the 13th annual Palestinians in Europe Conference In Berlin. The speakers and participants in these conferences are known to betied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and/or Hamas.
It should also be noted that in 2015, a PJD Party leader told the Turkish news agency that ‘There is no organisational relationship between the party and the Brotherhood.” It has been the experience of the GMBDW that in every instance in which the claim of “no organisational relationship” has been made, the group in question has indeed found to be part of the Global Muslim Brotherhood. As Avi M. Spiegel, an assistant professor of political science and international relations at the University of San Diego has written:
…the PJD’s efforts to claim, as one member said to me, that they have “no relationship with the Brotherhood in Egypt” face certain complications. While not formally an offshoot of the Brotherhood (like, say Islamist parties in Jordan or Kuwait), they nonetheless exhibit what Brotherhood expert Carrie Wickham has called a “family resemblance.” This applies to their histories, organization, and even ideology.
Relevant positions of the FJP include:
- In April 2012 the Moroccan Prime minister refused to speak with the female Belgian Minister of Justice during an official meeting.
- In August 2012, the Moroccan Minister of Family reportedly expressed his opposition to modifying the Moroccan Criminal Code that allows a man guilty of rape on a minor to escape his sentence by marrying his victim.
- In June 2011, Abdelilah Benkiran stridently objected to freedom of religion and tolerance of homosexuality.