October 7, Moroccans went to the polls to vote in second parliamentary election since the 2011 constitutional reform. Voters from Morocco’s 95 electoral districts are electing members to serve five-year terms in the 395-member Chamber of Representatives, the lower House of Parliament. In an official announcement on the elections on Friday night Moroccan Interior ministry Mohamed Hassad said turnout was temporarily 43% after the closing of the polls.
Elections are expected to provide some indication as to the likely makeup of a future government, for, in Morocco, the winning party in the poll provides the premier – who then recommends his preferred cabinet to the King.
The importance of these elections and have been enthusiastic about developments in Morocco which they see as momentum for a genuine democracy.
What the elections augur for the future may be unclear. What is crystal clear is that Morocco has set its sights on being a model for regional reform.
Now, arguably for the first time in decades, there is an alternative to ideological repression in the Arab community. Morocco is not yet an exemplar of Jeffersonian liberalism, but it is on a path paved with democratic principles. These general elections held in Morocco enhanced further local democracy and advanced regionalisation projects launched by King Mohammed VI.
A constitution and an election, while essential building blocks for democracy, are not in themselves dispositive. What counts is this new ability of Moroccans to express these feelings and emotions through the ballot box. Morocco has become a trend setter, so we should expect similar results in years to come in neighboring countries. The positive aspect of this change lies in its non-violent character of these elections where honesty and transparency have prevailed.
The reforms initiated by King Mohammed should be greeted with gratitude and respect. At long last there is another model for the Arab future, one that Americans and Europeans should embrace wholeheartedly. It is true that there are still challenges ahead of the democracy path in Morocco but the most important is that Moroccans (civil society, political parties and most important youth) have made their irreversible choice to continue their peaceful struggle towards full democracy. Democracy, therefore in this part of the Arab region, is no more a myth. It is a reality. It is often noted, correctly, that elections are not the whole of democracy. But when thousands of people vote in serenity and peace (in a region where turmoil and political instability prevail) is a heartening sight. Therefore, what is most important now is not who will win most of the seats but rather the fact that the electoral process was carried out in total transparency, fairness and in the end democracy triumphs.