A look at Morocco and its parliamentary elections

AP News
Posted: Nov 25, 2011 6:03 AM
A look at Morocco and its parliamentary elections

Moroccans are voting Friday for a new parliament. Here's a glance at the country and what the elections mean:

POPULATION: 32 million people, more than a quarter of whom are under 14. Most are Arabic-speaking Muslims.

SIZE: Slightly larger than California, not including the vast Western Sahara, a disputed territory that Morocco annexed in 1975.

POVERTY: 15 percent of the population, or nearly 5 million people, are estimated to live on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.

THE VOTE: Voters are choosing all 395 members of the lower house of parliament. The winning party or parties will then form a new government. Results are expected late Friday.

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT: These are the second elections held as a result of Arab Spring protests, after Tunisia's vote last month. A moderate Islamist party and a coalition of pro-palace parties are expected to come out on top. The U.S.-friendly king wields ultimate authority but ceded to some reforms under pressure from protesters, and the new parliament will be working under a new constitution and implementing reforms to transfer more power to other branches of the government.