Morocco: 15 million to vote today in local elections

Morocco: 15 million to vote today in local elections
Moroccans go today to the polls to vote in the first local and municipal elections since 2011. The elections will test the Islamist-led government's popularity, turn-out being a key determinant
2 min read
04 September, 2015
Islamist Prime Minister Benkirane sees the elections as a referendum on his leadership [AFP]
Local elections in Morocco will be held today amid expectations that the ballot boxes will produce new, younger local leaders, replacing the old elite that have been in their posts for many years.

These are the first regional and municipal elections to take place after a new amended constitution was approved by Moroccans in July 2011, in the wake of the Arab Spring and the February 20 movement protests that year.

More than 131,000 candidates from 29 parties are vying for around 32,000 seats across the kingdom's regions.

The elections are seen as a gauge of the popularity of the government of Abdelilah Benkirane and his party, the Islamist Justice and Development Party, a year ahead of a general election.

The vote will offer a snapshot of the political climate, four years after the Arab Spring swept through the kingdom.

The general election that followed the Arab Spring had brought Benkirane's party to power, after years in the opposition.

Key parties competing in Friday's election

- The Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM)
- The Independence Party
- The Islamist Justice and Development Party (JDP)
- The National Rally of Independents (RNI)
- The Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP)
- The Popular Movement
- The Party of Progress and Socialism

Benkirane remains popular despite limited success in tackling corruption.

He has been credited with bringing down the budget deficit to less than five percent of GDP, down from seven.

But speaking to AFP, Mustapha Bakkoury, leader of the opposition Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), has criticised Benkirane's rule.

"His priority over the last four years has been his own clan, rather than all the people of the country," said Bakkoury, a close adviser to the king.

With less than half of registered voters taking part in the election of 2011, turnout at Friday's polls is being closely watched for an indication of the state of political transition in one of the region's more stable countries.