In Morocco, reforms stalled with no government formed

Stalemate is likely to affect Moroccan political parties’ cred­ibility further after voter turn­out was relatively low in October.

King could designate an­other PJD figure to lead negotia­tions

2017/01/15 Issue: 89 Page: 3

The Arab Weekly
Saad Guerraoui

London -Morocco is paying the political and econom­ic price for the inabil­ity to form a govern­ment three months after the Islamist Justice and Devel­opment Party (PJD) won the most seats in parliamentary elections, analysts said.

Uncertainty resurfaced January 8th when Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, the PJD leader, declared “the end of negotiations” with the National Rally of Independence (RNI) party to form a government after failing to come to an agree­ment on the parties that should join them.

The RNI conditioned its partici­pation in an Islamist-led govern­ment with a bloc including the Con­stitutional Union (UC), the Popular Movement (MP) and the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) while ruling out any alliance with the Istiqlal Party (PI).

The PJD won 125 seats in the Oc­tober vote. The Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) took 102 seats. Istiqlal was third with 46 seats while the RNI holds 37 seats and the MP has 27. The PJD needs to form a coalition that includes at least 198 seats in the 395-member House of Representatives.

“The blockade (in forming a gov­ernment) is going to delay the re­forms that are needed for the coun­try’s development as there is no functional parliament to approve them as a result of the delay in vot­ing for the government’s budget,” said analyst Mohammed Afry.

Mohamed Amine Mansouri Id­rissi, who said he voted for the first time in the October elections, described the political deadlock as “ridiculous”.

“This situation today is frankly ridiculous. It is a coup against de­mocracy and people’s will,” said Idrissi, founder of the Afrique Strategie firm. “The aberration is such that the party, which has had a fraction of votes with a game of al­liance, wants to impose its diktat as if Moroccans had voted for the four parties as one.

“The economic wait-and-see that results from the political blockade is very costly because it negatively impacts Morocco’s image of stabil­ity and globally reflects on the over­all business climate.”

The stalemate is likely to affect Moroccan political parties’ cred­ibility further after the voter turn­out was relatively low in October despite heavy public awareness campaigns on the importance of participating in the elections. Afry said the delay would backfire on political parties’ image.

“I lost faith in politics,” said med­ical doctor Youssef Oukessou. “We haven’t seen any changes in terms of fighting corruption.”

Two royal advisers met with Ben­kirane at the end of December to express King Mohammed VI’s con­cern over the delay in forming the government. This pushed the PJD leader to open new talks with RNI after announcing that the PI would not be part of the next government.

Some analysts are predicting the Moroccan monarch might inter­vene in the political impasse. King Mohammed VI could designate an­other PJD figure to lead the negotia­tions if Benkirane steps down or he could pressure the political parties to reach an agreement at a time when Morocco is seeking to reinte­grate with the African Union.

The fallout from the “Arab spring” protests in Morocco helped the PJD win the elections in 2011 and lead the country for the past five years, which have been marked by political and economic stability and a rise in foreign investment de­spite numerous ongoing conflicts in the region.

Saad Guerraoui is a regular contributor to The Arab Weekly on Maghreb issues.

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