Moroccan general election, 2011

Moroccan general election, 2011
25 November 2011

All 395 seats to the Assembly of Representatives of Morocco
198 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Abdelilah Benkirane Abbas El Fassi Salaheddine Mezouar
Party PJD Istiqlal RNI
Leader's seat Salé Meknes
Last election 46 52 39
Seats won 107 60 52
Seat change Increase61 Increase 8 Increase13

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Leader Mohamed Cheikh Biadillah Abdelwahed Radi Mohand Laenser
Party PAM USFP Popular Movement
Leader's seat Sidi Slimane Boulmane
Last election x 38 41
Seats won 47 39 32
Seat change Increase47 Increase 1 Decrease 9

Prime Minister before election

Abbas El Fassi

Elected Prime Minister

Abdelillah Benkirane

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

An early parliamentary election was held in Morocco on 25 November 2011, brought forward from 2012 and then postponed from 7 October 2011.

Public protests as part of the Arab Spring in February 2011 led King Mohammed VI to announce an early election, a process of constitutional reform granting new civil rights, and the relinquishing of some of his administrative powers. Following a referendum on 1 July 2011, the new constitution was ratified on 13 September.

Of the Lower House of Parliament's 395 seats, 305 were elected from party lists in 92 constituencies and the additional 90 seats were elected from a national list, with two thirds reserved for women and the remaining third reserved for men under the age of 40.[1][2]

30 parties participated in the elections, 18 of which gained seats. The vast majority of seats was won by three political groups: the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD); an eight-party "Coalition for Democracy" (led by the RNI) headed by Morocco's incumbent minister of finance Salaheddine Mezouar; and the Koutla ("Coalition") alliance of the incumbent prime minister Abbas El Fassi.[3]

Results of the election, in terms of numbers of seats won by each party, were announced on 27 November 2011. But no voting figures of any kind were released, and still had not been by the end of 2011. This was in contrast with the 2007 elections, for which voting figures were released by the Interior Ministry. The official turnout was 45%, but some comments suggested it was much lower.[4]

The Justice and Development party won 107 seats, giving it the largest parliamentary representation, although not a majority. According to the new constitution, this made its leader, Abdelillah Benkirane, prime minister.


2007 parliamentary elections

The 2007 parliamentary elections were the second of King Mohammed VI's reign. They were characterized by a relatively low turnout of 37%, 15 points down from that of 2002 (52%).[3] The Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) - the largest party in the outgoing government - unexpectedly lost 12 of its seats. The Istiqlal Party came first with 52 seats, ahead of the Justice and Development Party with 46, despite the latter coming first in terms of number of votes. A coalition of five parties (Istiqlal, Popular movement, National rally of independents, Party of Progress and Socialism and Socialist Union of Popular Forces) with a narrow combined majority in the House of Representatives formed a government headed by Abbas El Fassi, the president of the Istiqlal party.

Arab Spring and protest movement

Following national protests held in early February 2011 in solidarity with the Egyptian revolution, a youth group (later known as the 20 February movement) and the Islamist organization Al Adl Wa Al Ihssane called for a day of protests.[5][6] Among the demands of the organisers was that the constitutional role of the king should be "reduced to its natural size".[7] On 20 February, several thousands of people participated in demonstrations across Morocco.[8] On 26 February, a further protest was held in Casablanca.[9] Further protests were held in Casablanca and Rabat on 20 March.[10]

On 9 March, King Mohammed announced that he would form a commission to work on constitutional revisions, which would make proposals to him by June, after which a referendum would be held on the draft constitution.[11]

2011 Constitutional reforms

A committee representing various parties was tasked by the king to prepare the new constitution. A draft was published in early June 2011.[12][13] A referendum for its adoption was conducted on 1 July 2011 and registered a record high participation rate with a 70% turnout; the reforms were passed with 98% approval.[13] The protest movement however, previously called for a boycott of the referendum.[13] Consequently, the date of the parliamentary election was brought forward from September 2012 to October 2011.

The new constitution, entered into effect on 1 August 2011, created a number of new civil rights, including constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression, social equality for women, rights for speakers of minority languages and the independence of judges.[14]

Changes to electoral and administrative law were also significant. The king rescinded his power to appoint prime ministers, obliging himself to appoint a member of the party winning the most seats in a parliamentary election.[14][15] The office of prime minister, in turn, was given additional powers to appoint senior civil servants and diplomats, in consultation with the king's ministerial council.[16][17] The prime minister replaced the king as the head of government and chair of the government council, gaining the power to dissolve parliament.[18]

The voting system was also changed so that the number of parliamentary seats decided on a constituency basis was increased from 295 to 305. Additional seats were reserved for election from national party lists, 60 consisting only of female candidates and 30 for male candidates under the age of 40.[1][2][3]

Election timetable

After negotiations between the interior ministry, which oversees elections, and some 20 political parties, the government proposed that parliamentary elections should be moved to 11 November, with the possibility of shifting it due to its proximity to the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.[19] In the end, the election was held on 25 November 2011. The electoral campaign took place from 12 to 24 November.[20]

There were fears that a low voter turnout, already traditionally a problem, would be further exacerbated by a boycott call by the pro-reform February 20 movement and the Islamist organization Al Adl Wa Al Ihssane, who felt that the constitutional reforms were insufficient.[3][21]

Electoral system

The election follows the closed list proportional representation system (with a 6 percent threshold) using the largest remainder method. Voting is conducted through universal suffrage in secret ballots.[2]

There are two types of list, local and national.[2] 305 seats are allocated for the local lists spread over 92 electoral districts, while the national list consists of 90 seats, putting the total number of deputies at 395 - 70 more than the last election.[2][3]

The national list consists of a 60 seats list reserved for women and another of 30 seats for candidates under 40.[2][3] The list follows the same proportional representation system but on the level of the country.


All Moroccan citizens are eligible for voting if they are at least 18 years old and have their civil and political rights unrestrained by a court order.[2] A person is eligible for candidacy if they fulfil the conditions set out in the law regulating parliament (law 27.11 articles 6 to 10), according to which the following are ineligible:[2]


Participating parties

A total of 30 parties proposed candidates in the election[23] while three far-left parties - the communist "Talia", the Unified Socialist Party and the "Nahj Ad-Dimuqrati" - called for a boycott.[24] The Islamist organization Al Adl Wa Al Ihssane and the 20 February protest movement also called for a boycott.[24]

Istiqlal was the only party that filled a list for every constituency. The Justice and Development Party and the Socialist Union of Popular Forces both fielded 393 candidates.[25]

Party number of candidates
Istiqlal Party395
Justice and Development Party (PJD)393
Socialist Union of Popular Forces393
Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS)386
National Rally of Independents (RNI)381
Popular Movement377
Front of Democratic Forces365
Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM)365
Constitutional Union340
Democratic Oath Party (SD) 305
National Congress Party (PCNI)300
Labour Party (PT)297
Democratic and Social Movement (MDS)261
Environment and Sustained Development255
Socialist Party (PS)244
Moroccan Liberal Party (PLM)221
Green Left Party204
Social Centre Party (PCS)182
Party of Renewal and Equity (PRE) 162
Reform and Development Party (PRD)154
Action Party (PA)149
Party of Renaissance and Virtue (PRV)128
Union and Democracy Party (PUD)121
Moroccan Union for Democracy UMD117
National Democratic Party115
Citizens' Forces (PFC)110
Party of Hope (PE)103
Party of Liberty and Social Justice (PLJS)100
Democratic Society Party (PSD)72
Democratic Independence Party (PDI)58
Independents 6


Major competing parties

The eight leaders of the coalition for democracy

The main contestants in the election were three political formations : the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), headed by Salé's deputy Abdelillah Benkirane; the "Coalition for Democracy" which is an alliance headed by Morocco's current minister of finance Salaheddine Mezouar; and the Koutla alliance of the incumbent prime minister Abbas El Fassi[3]

The Coalition for Democracy was formed on 10 October 2011 and groups eight parties: the National Rally of Independents, the Popular Movement, the Constitutional Union, the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), the Labour Party, the Green Left Party, the Party of Renaissance and Virtue and the Socialist Party.[26]

The Koutla groups three parties which are members of the 2007-2011 government; namely the Istiqlal Party, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces and the Party of Progress and Socialism.[27] The Koutla alliance criticized the decision of two other member parties of the current government to join the Coalition for Democracy alliance with other parties of the opposition.[27] Consequently, the leaders of the Koutla made implicit calls for the Justice and Development party to join their alliance.[27]

the three leaders of the Koutla (center)

The below table lists the most prominent parties in the Moroccan political scene (bold indicates members of the 2007-2011 government):

Party Ideology 2007 Seats
Istiqlal PartyNationalism-Conservatism52
Justice and Development PartyIslamism (right-wing)46
Popular MovementConservative liberalism-Economic liberalism41
National Rally of IndependentsLiberalism39
Socialist Union of Popular ForcesSocial democracy38
Constitutional UnionConservatism-Economic liberalism27
Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS)Socialism17
Authenticity and Modernity Party*Conservatism-Economic liberalismx
Al Ahd union (joint list)** Socialism14
Front of Democratic ForcesSocialism9
Democratic and Social MovementSocialism9
PADS Union (joint list)*** Socialism6
Labour partyLabor rights-Socialism5
Environment and Development PartyGreen politics5

(*): Was formed after the 2007 elections.
(**): Joint list of the National Democratic Party and Al Ahd
(***): Joint list of the National Congress Party, the Democratic Socialist Vanguard Party and the Unified Socialist Party


  Istiqlal Party (60 seats)
  Popular movement (32 seats)
  Constitutional Union (23 seats)
  Labour party (4 seats)
  Other parties (13 seats)

The spokesman of the ministry of the interior announced on the evening of Friday 25 November that the turnout in the election was 45%, up 8 points from that of 2007.[3] By the time of the initial results on 26 November, covering 288 of the 395 seats being contested, it had become clear that the Justice and Development Party had secured a plurality. It had secured 80 seats by this stage, with Istiqlal having secured 45. News organizations speculated that the Justice and Development Party would govern in coalition with several left-wing political parties.[28]

Names of successful candidates were announced on 27 November 2011.[1] The Justice and Development Party won a plurality of seats, making its leader, Abdelillah Benkirane, prime minister designate under the rules of the new constitution. "This is a clear victory," he said,"but we will need alliances in order to work together".[29]

Party Votes Votes % Total seats Seats % Seat change Const. seats List seats
Justice and Development Party (PJD)1,080,91422.810727.1Increase618324
Istiqlal Party562,72011.96015.2Increase 84713
National Rally of Independents (RNI)537,55211.35213.2Increase134012
Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM)524,38611.14711.9Increase473512
Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP)408,1088.6399.9Increase 1309
Popular Movement (MP)354,4687.5328.1Decrease 9248
Constitutional Union (UC)275,1375.8235.8Decrease 4176
Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS)269,3365.7184.6Increase 1126
Labour party (PT)107,3992.341Decrease 140
Environment and Development Party (PED)109,3352.320.5Decrease 320
Democratic and Social Movement (MDS)81,3241.720.5Decrease 720
Party of Renewal and EquityXX20.5Decrease 220
Democratic Oath Party (SD) XX20.5Increase 220
Front of Democratic Forces135,1612.810.3Decrease 810
Green Left Party 33,8410.710.3Increase 110
Action Party (PA)14,9160.310.3Increase 110
Union and Democracy Party (PUD)XX10.3Increase 110
Party of Liberty and Social Justice (PLJS)XX10.3Increase 110
Socialist Party (PS)XX00Decrease 200
Moroccan Union for Democracy (UMD)XX00Decrease 200
Citizens' Forces (PFC)XX00Decrease 100
Party of Renaissance and Virtue (PRV)XX00Decrease 100
National Congress Party (PCNI)XX00Decrease 600
Moroccan Liberal Party (PLM)XX00Steady00
Social Centre Party (PCS)XX00Steady00
Reform and Development Party (PRD)XX00Steady00
National Democratic PartyXX00Steady00
Party of Hope (PE)XX00Steady00
Democratic Society Party (PSD)XX00Steady00
Democratic Independence Party (PDI)XX00Steady00
IndependentsXX00Decrease 500
Total valid votes4,745,45377.7395100%Increase7030590
Invalid votes1,361,51122.3
Total votes cast (turnout 45.4%)6,106,964100.0

Source: Moroccan government.[1][30]

Assembly of Representatives of Morocco results grouped by coalition

Coalition Total seats Seats % Seat change Constituency seats List seats Votes Votes %
Coalition for Democracy 159 40.3 Increase 44 121 38 XX
Koutla 117 29.6 Increase 10 89 28 XX
Justice and Development Party10727.1Increase 618324XX
Other 12 3.0 Decrease 45 12 0 XX
Total (turnout 45.4%)395100%Increase 7030590XX

Government formation

The Justice and Development party is expected to ally with the Koutla and form a government that will be likely headed by Abdelillah Benkirane or Saadeddine Othmani, who are respectively the current and former party leaders.[31] Benkirane held talks with the King on the evening of 28 November, and declared that he is not going to announce an alliance before the prime minister is appointed.[31] He has previously stated that he is open to an alliance with the Koutla and made positive signs towards it.

After the announcement of the final results, some leaders of the Coalition for Democracy stated that they have no reason to still maintain the alliance.[32] Mohand Laenser of the Popular Movement and representatives from the Constitutional Union said that they were discussing whether to stay or retract from the coalition.[32] Salaheddine Mezouar of the National Rally of Independents, and Mohamed Cheikh Biadillah, leader of the Authenticity and Modernity Party, said that they choose not to participate in the upcoming government.[32][33][34]

On Tuesday 29 November 2011, as expected, Abdelilah Benkirane was nominated by the king as the new prime minister.[35]

On 9 July 2013, Istiqlal's six ministers resigned from the cabinet over subsidy reforms.[36]


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  15. Article 47 of the 2011 Moroccan constitution
  16. Article 91 of the 2011 Moroccan constitution
  17. Article 49 of the 2011 Moroccan constitution
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