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Voting slow in Morocco's key democratic test

Voting slow in Morocco's key democratic test
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Moroccans have been voting in a general election brought forward in the wake of the Arab spring.

Initial reports suggest a low turnout: according to Interior Ministry figures, only 11.5 percent of voters had cast their ballot at midday.

The moderate Islamists from Justice and Development Party, or PJ, have been in opposition until now.

They are drawing inspiration from the success of their counterparts in Tunisia. Their main rivals from the Coalition for Democracy, led by the country’s finance minister, are said to have close ties to the monarchy.

Under new constitutional reforms, King Mohammed has given up some of his powers. The vote is being seen as a key test not just of Morocco’s democratic credentials, but of those in Arab monarchies generally.

euronews correspondent Kawtar Wakil in Rabat said: “National and international observers have come in large numbers to monitor these parliamentary elections which will bring the first government under the new constitution.”

The result is expected to be close. Perhaps the true winner may turn out to be scepticism. Amid high unemployment and widespread poverty, many Moroccans have little faith the election will bring change and the main protest movement has called for a boycott.