Islamists make election gains

04 October 2002

The kingdom's socialists look set to lead a coalition government for a further five years, having maintained their position as the biggest winners of the legislative elections held on 27 September. However, the ruling Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) of Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi, which won 50 seats, faced strong competition from the Islamist Justice & Development Party (PJD). The PJD surprised many by trebling its parliamentary representation to 42 seats, nearly 10 per cent of parliament.

Despite its success, it is unlikely that the PJD will take a leading position in parliament. Other parties, including the USFP and the conservative Istiqlal, have already said that they will work together to prevent the Islamists from gaining power. Istiqlal, the socialists' coalition partner in the previous parliament, won 48 seats. In all, the seven parties that together formed the last government secured 186 seats in the new parliament, enough to give them a majority if they decide to work together again.

Some 52 per cent of the eligible population turned out to vote and about 15 per cent of ballots cast - 1.1 million votes - were declared void. For the first time a quota was introduced, which allotted 30 of the 325 seats to women. Votes for the 30 female politicians were spread among 11 of the 26 parties that contested the election. Five of the 50 USFP seats were won by women, while women also won four Istiqlal and PJD seats.

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