Rabat - The newly re-elected Justice and Development Party (PJD) will be meeting with several members of Morocco’s political leadership this week to confirm a government coalition that will ideally last for the next five years.
Rabat – The newly re-elected Justice and Development Party (PJD) will be meeting with several members of Morocco’s political leadership this week to confirm a government coalition that will ideally last for the next five years.
Last time around, the PJD started off with the 60-representative strong Istiqlal Party (PI) under its grip. The government coalition also included the Party of Progress and Socialism and the Popular Movement.
However, in May 2013, the PI withdrew from the government coalition due to “unpopular decisions” made by Head of Government Benkirane – leading Istiqlal to lose its five ministerial positions by resignation.
Afterwards, the PJD began working with parties in the opposition to negotiate a coalition deal that would restore its grip on the legislature and allow new parties to see their agendas move forward through ministerial appointments.
In August 2013, the National Rally of Independents (RNI) – which controlled 52 seats – made the decision to join the government, giving Secretary-General Salaheddine Mezouar the Foreign Minister position in a cabinet reshuffling.
Since then, several antagonistic comments made by both Benkirane and Mezouar have led analysts to label the RNI as an opposition party with the government.
King Mohammed VI handed to PJD Secretary-General Abdelilah Benkirane the responsibility to shape a government on Monday, following the results of the October 7th legislative elections, in which the ruling party saw an increase in representation of 18 seats.
“The election of October 7th was an illuminated station that reflects the insistence of Moroccans, all of us – under the leadership of Kind Mohammed VI, with determination and firmness, to continue to support the democratic process and the Moroccan exception,” Benkirane said, even though voter turnout dropped to a low of 43 percent, according to official figures from the Interior Ministry.
Istiqlal and NRI have seen their representation drop drastically – to 46 and 37 seats, respectively – due to seat stealing from PJD and the main opposition force, the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), in the 2016 elections.
PAM, led by Ilyas El-Omari, more than doubled its power in the House of Representatives, giving it control over 107 seats. It, too, has begun contacting Istiqlal and other parties to form the opposition coalition.
A total of 163 seats remain outside the control of the PJD and the PAM. Both parties’ leaders have been contacting the parties that represent those seats regarding potential alliance opportunities, according to statements by Benkirane and El-Omari.
Driss Lachgar, of the Socialist Union of Populist Forces (USFP), which won 20 seats on Friday, told Lakome2 that his party’s senior-level officials met last night, right after the king’s certification of Benkirane as Head of Government for the next five years.
Istiqlal and RNI held similar intra-party meetings Monday night.
PAM’s El-Omari, Istiqlal’s Hamid Chabat and USFP’s Lachgar held an unofficial meeting on Saturday to see if the three-way opposition coalition could be feasible. No final decision has yet been made regarding the alliance, according to Le360.
RNI and Istiqlal have both had shaky relationships with the ruling PJD in the past. Only time will tell whether it will be PAM or PJD that recruits one, both, or none to their sides.