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Moroccans vote in key test for democracy

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Moroccans vote in key test for democracy


Moroccans have begun voting in a general election brought forward after the Arab Spring. Under new constitutional reforms, King Mohammed has given up some of his powers to the new government that will emerge.

The vote is being seen as a test for the ability of Arab monarchies to satisfy demands for greater democracy, but reports suggest many Moroccans are sceptical.

The moderate Islamists from the Justice and Development Party or PJD believe they can take the largest share of seats, saying they hope to emulate the success of their counterparts in Tunisia.

Opinion polls are banned in the run-up to the election but observers say the outcome is too close to call.

The finance minister leads an alliance of eight parties called the Coalition for Democracy, the PJD’s main challenger. It is said to have strong links to the monarchy; analysts say its main power-broker is a friend of the king.

Whichever bloc emerges with the most seats in parliament, it is unlikely to be able to form a government alone.

The group behind a wave of protests earlier this year has called for a boycott of the election. Amid high unemployment and widespread poverty, observers say many Moroccans have little confidence the vote will bring about change.

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