Report: Islamists’ win called a Moroccan, not a pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood phenomenon

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RABAT — The Islamist movement that won parliamentary elections in
Morocco reflects the traditions of the North African kingdom rather than the
pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood, a report said.

The International Strategic Studies Association said that the
victory of the Justice and Development Party in parliamentary elections on
Nov. 25 did not reflect the growth of the Brotherhood in Morocco. The
Washington-based group, which monitored parliamentary elections, said
Justice and Development would form a coalition with secular parties as part
of an effort to decentralize power in Morocco.

Two veiled members of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) party walk past a PJD campaign poster in front of the party’s headquarters in Rabat. /AFP

“One result of the process is a new parliament which is committed to the constitutional process, and yet representing a broad diversity of appeal,” ISSA said in a report on Nov. 28. “Significantly, Moroccan Islamic parties all reflect a strong commitment to the process and are inherently Moroccan — rather than pan-Islamist — in their approach.”

Justice and Development Party won at least 82 seats in the 395-member parliament, nearly double that of the Independence Party, led by Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi. ISSA, which deployed monitors from around the world, determined that the elections, with a 45 percent turnout, were free and transparent.

“Parliamentary elections transformed the Maghreb kingdom into a fully constitutional democracy, mirroring the European systems with which it is increasingly integrated, and it did so calmly, without protests, and with diversity and enthusiasm,” said Gregory Copley, editor of GIS/Defense &
Foreign Affairs, part of ISSA.

“The elections showed that transformation in
the Islamic world can occur with stability, and within the framework of a
stable system which has popular legitimacy.”

The report said the Algerian-backed Polisario did not contest the
elections in Western Sahara, where voter turnout was higher than the
average. ISSA, based on interviews with voters, concluded that Polisario was
“not seen as relevant or a consideration in the political process.”

ISSA, which also tracked the 2009 local elections in Morocco, said its
monitors did not report any incident of double-voting or blocking access to
polling stations, which contained information in Arabic, Berber and French.
The report said Moroccan security forces maintained what was termed a light

“There was no sense of a coercive official presence, but there was
sufficient evidence to voters that polling stations would be secure,” the
report said. “Significantly, all voters’ qualifications were checked by two
separate officials working from identical local voter registration lists.
The process was under the scrutiny of a panel of monitors from the political
parties present in every polling room.”

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