Monday, November 28, 2011

Results are in: Justice and Development Party wins majority vote!

On our walk back from having dinner in the neighborhood of l’Océan to our apartment in Hassan, we immediately new there was big news flying through the air. Horns were honking, people were packed into cars and sticking their heads out of windows, flags were flying, and people were shouting and chanting slogans like, “Houria! Houria!” (Freedom! Freedom!). After quickly deducing that it couldn’t be anything soccer related since the game was still going on at the time, I knew it had to do with the parliamentary elections. The votes must have been tallied.

As we made our way towards the commotion, I could get a better look at the parade in front of us. Judging by the oil lamp symbol painted on their banners and used as decals on their white smocks, I knew that the moderate Islamist opposition party, the Justice and Development Party, must have won the majority vote in the election. The air felt like it was filled with static electricity, as their contagious enthusiasm made the hair stand up on my arms.

The results of these elections are especially important because they are the first parliamentary elections to take place since King Mohamed VI introduced constitutional reforms this summer. According to the newspaper Le Monde, the PJD won 107 of the 395 available seats in lower parliament.

Who exactly is the PJD? What does it stand for? What must be first understood is that it is a political group first and foremost that guides their political policies with a moderate interpretation Islamic principles. It puts economic and judicial questions at the forefront of its platform and supports a democratic political system. The PJD states that its political platform includes: educational reform, foreign economic partnership, encouragement of economic investment, maintaining a united Arab and Muslim global community, and the improvement of democracy and human rights in Morocco. Prior to the election, many Moroccans that I spoke with said that they had faith in the PJD because unlike other groups, when they are in a position of power, they successfully execute the tasks that they set out to do.

Taib Cherkaoui, the Moroccan Minister of Interior, announced that 45% of registered voters turned out for this election in comparison to only 37% at the election in 2007. Lahcen Daodi, the head of the PJD, called the results of this parliamentary election, “a historical turning point”. If this was a truly democratic election, then I look forward to see what happens in the months ahead. Will the PJD be able to satisfy the demands of the people?

Click here for Le Monde's slide show and narration (en français) of the PJD celebrating their win: