Glance of Moroccan political parties

AP News
Posted: Nov 24, 2011 3:15 AM
Glance of Moroccan political parties

A glance of the main political parties competing in Morocco's elections for a 395-member parliament. Due to a complex proportional electoral system and a low threshold for party representation, parliaments are typically splintered among many parties with none taking more than 20 percent of the seats, requiring coalitions.

JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT PARTY: Morocco's legal Islamist Party first competed in elections in 1997 and has slowly grown its parliamentary presence with a reputation for being honest outsiders looking to clean up the government. The party has been careful to emphasize its loyalty to the monarchy. It was pegged to win big in 2007 but only came in a close second, and many believe this time around authorities will try to bring them into the government to bolster the system's credibility. It has said it is open to coalitions with almost all other parties.

NATIONAL RALLY FOR INDEPENDENTS: Created by King Hassan II in 1978 by putting all independents in a single party, the RNI has a liberal ideology and it is known mainly for supplying the government with technocrat ministers. Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar leads the party and is being tipped as a possible prime minister in the next government, if the party does well. It has allied itself with seven other pro-palace parties in the "Group of Eight" alliance.

PARTY OF AUTHENTICITY AND MODERNITY: Created in 2009 out of several smaller parties by a confidant of the king, the PAM dominated local and upper house elections in 2009 with the backing of the administration and was pegged as the emerging ruling party. Many deputies switched allegiance to the party making it the largest in the parliament ahead of elections. The Arab Spring and the fall of ruling parties around the region, however, damaged the party's image and many of its candidates of since switched party allegiance to the RNI. It is part of the Group of Eight alliance.

ISTIQLAL PARTY: Founded in 1944, the right of center Istiqlal is the historic party of independence and once dominated Moroccan politics. It is the current ruling coalition leader and has participated nearly every government since independence and has strong support of traditional voting networks.

SOCIALIST UNION OF POPULAR FORCES: A left of center party, the USFP was once Morocco's main opposition party but has since participated in several governments tarnishing its independent image. A leadership crisis and a lack of opportunities for younger members has sapped the party's vigor and in past contests has slipped to fourth place. Ahead of the elections, the USFP has formed an alliance with the Istiqlal called the Kutla, or Bloc, to counter the Group of Eight pro-palace alliance.