In an unprecedented move, Morocco is set to allow foreign residents in the country to participate in the 2021 general elections.
Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior and Moroccan political parties have agreed to abolish a reciprocity requirement that prevented foreign residents from participating in elections.
The requirement only allowed foreigners to cast their votes in Morocco’s general elections if their country of origin allowed Moroccans to do the same. In practical terms, this condition banned foreigners from participating in Moroccan elections.
The First Secretary of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), Driss Lachgar, announced the news on Saturday, December 19, during the annual national meeting of his party.
The new voting right concerns a significant number of residents in Morocco and has the potential to affect the results of the 2021 general elections.
According to a 2017 document from Morocco’s High Commission for Planning (HCP), the country hosts at least 84,000 foreign residents. It is likely the number increased in the past few years, considering the rise in foreign investments in Morocco.
Moroccan authorities are yet to officially announce the decision. The procedure for foreign residents to register in the electoral roll is also unknown.
At the time of writing, registering through the website “www.listeselectorales.ma” requires inputting the number of the National Identity Card (CNIE), which only Moroccans hold. Registration using residence permit or passport numbers is yet unavailable.
Registering in the electoral roll is a necessary step to participate in the general elections. After registration, future voters receive details about the voting process, such as the polling place where they can cast their ballot.
What else is new in Morocco’s 2021 general elections?
The elections are set to take place in September 2021. Moroccan authorities did not yet determine an exact date.
Next year, the elections will include three votes — for municipal, regional, and legislative elections — on the same day.
Municipal and regional elections decide which political parties lead local and regional councils. Meanwhile, the legislative election determines the number of seats each party earns at Morocco’s House of Representatives.
Traditionally, the different elections take place on separate days. The decision to hold the three elections simultaneously aims to increase voter turnout.
Another novelty in Morocco’s 2021 general elections is that they will take place on a Wednesday. Previous elections usually took place on Fridays. The change in the voting day also aims to encourage more Moroccan citizens and residents to take part in the elections.
Next year’s elections will also witness increased transparency measures, but local authorities are yet to disclose details.
The 2021 legislative election holds utmost importance, as it will determine who will lead the Moroccan government during the post-coronavirus period.
Some of the most prominent parties with members running for election are the ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD), the National Rally of Independents (RNI), and the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), among others.