The islamists of the Justice and Development Party are confident of success in Morocco’s elections. They believe the PJD will be the country’s largest party. They promise to renew a political system that’s left many voters unimpressed – turnout was only just over 50 percent last time round. One fisherman summed up what many feel. He’s not going to vote because, he says, there is no point.
No fewer than 33 parties are in the race for parliament. With 42 out of 325 seats, the PJD is Morocco’s third party. It hopes now to double up and overtake both the nationalist and the socialist parties and become parliament’s number one. And two polls carried out in July indeed point to this outcome.
Some analysts are calling it a protest vote. The PJD is attacking what it sees as an abuse of power by the parties that currently have it. “The 7th of September will be the day to end corruption by ending the corrupt politicians” says the party’s leader, Abdelilah Benkiran.
Rattled, the traditional parties are saying problems with terrorism will only worsen under the islamists of the PJD. Al-Qaeda will settle in comfortably warn some. Nonsense says the PJD. It will tackle what it believes is the root cause of extremism: abject poverty. It insists that through democratic islamism it will offer hope to the desperately poor.
The PJD has pledged to arrange the kingdom’s future legislation around the principles of Sharia law. The Koran will act as the constitution.
Morocco’s electoral system of proportional representation means no one party will get a majority. If the PJD get power, it will be as part of a coalition. For now no other party wants to work with them. But that may change if the islamists’ get the big win they are predicting.