Islamists win in Morocco

The vote was the first since the approval of a new constitution in a July referendum that transferred some of the monarch's near absolute powers to parliament and the prime minister.

Under the new constitution the king, the latest scion of a monarchy that has ruled the north African country for 350 years, must now choose a prime minister from the winning party instead of naming whoever he pleases, as in the past.

The Justice and Development Party (PJD) captured 107 seats in the 395-seat assembly in Friday’s polls, according to final results released by the interior ministry on Sunday.

“The results are better than we expected,” PJD leader Abdelilah Benkirane told cheering supporters at the party’s headquarters in Rabat, Morocco’s seaside capital, after the results were announced.

Benkirane may meet with the king on Tuesday to be nominated prime minister, said PJD parliamentary bloc leader Lahcen Daoudi.

“Abdelilah Benkirane could be received at the palace tomorrow (Tuesday) to be officially nominated,” he told AFP.

“Benkirane will then start talks with the parties that should make up the coalition.”
The monarch proposed changes to the constitution as autocratic regimes were toppled in nearby Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya as part of the Arab Spring uprisings and pro-democracy protests brewed at home.

The PJD election victory comes less than a month after a moderate Islamist party won Tunisia’s first free election and ahead of a predicted Islamist surge in Egyptian polls that got underway Monday.

“The PJD ready to govern,” said business daily L’Economiste said on its front page on Monday. “The test of power,” said Aufait.

An Islamist party has never been allowed in the government. Since the PJD will have to govern in a coalition with several other parties, it is not expected to make radical changes to policy.

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