|The PJD is thought to be Morocco’s
most popular party [AFP]
Morocco’s political system favours often unwieldy coalition governments, and even if a party wins a majority, the country’s prime minister is chosen by King Mohammed VI.
Driss Jetou, the current prime minister, was not from a political party when he was appointed to head the coalition government.
There are 33 political parties competing in the September elections and dozens of independent candidates.
Of the parties, though, there are three key political players in the 2007 elections.
The Justice and Development party
Founded in 1989, the Justice and Development party (PJD) is thought to be Morocco’s most popular party and is tipped to win the September elections.
An Islamic party, in recent years it has toned down its condemnation of un-Islamic behaviour, and is running on a platform promoting education and fighting corruption.
The party’s clean image has won it support from Moroccans fed up with the corruption in public life which has seen Morocco listed as 78th in Transparency International’s latest corruption survey.
The PJD’s Islamic credentials also mean it has clout with many voters in Morocco, a Muslim country. But those same credentials have prompted nervousness from others, especially after the 2003 suicide bombings in Casablanca.
In the 2002 elections, coming only a year after the September 11 attacks on the US World Trade Centre, the PJD limited its participation and put up candidates for only 55 of the electoral districts.
Even so, it tripled its representation to become Morocco’s third-largest party and the government’s main opposition.
The Independence party
Jetou was appointed prime minister, but did
Also known as Istiqlal, the Independence party is part of Morocco’s ruling coalition and currently holds 48 seats in parliament.
It was founded in the 1940s, and was one of the main political forces pushing for Morocco’s independence from France in 1956.
In 1959, a breakaway group from the party formed the National Union of Popular Forces (UNFP) and in the 1970s the two parties, having lost popular support, banded together to establish the National Front and boycott elections. But the front fell apart again in 1972.
The Socialist Union of Popular Forces
Currently the largest party in Morocco, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) began as a division within the UNFP and split from them in 1974.
The USFP won 50 seats in the 2002 election and is part of the current governing coalition, alongside the Independence party.
The Justice and Charity party
The banned Justice and Charity party, known as Al-Adl wal-Ihsan, is the country’s foremost religious party. Popular among many of the poor, the party promotes a Sufi Islamic agenda and opposes violence.
Under Abdesslam Yassine, the party leader, it opposed the monarchy and, though banned, it remains tolerated.