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Morocco: Islamist PJD Victory in Post-Reform Parliamentary Election

This post is part of our special coverage Morocco Protests 2011.

Moroccans took to the polls on Friday 25 November, 2011, to elect a new parliament. It is the first election since a constitutional referendum in July approved a series of amendments introduced by King Mohammed VI.

The youth-based pro-democracy movement, known as February 20, have criticized the new constitution for leaving the King with a strong veto power over the government, and have called for the boycott of the elections.

Voter turnout

According to the Moroccan Interior Ministry, 45% of registered voters cast their votes on Friday – a low turnout - and the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) recorded a clear victory.

Based on official data, Reda Lemniaï (@Redalinho) posts a comparative graph visualizing voter turnout in the Moroccan election, as opposed to Tunisia and Spain where legislative polls were conducted earlier this month. He tweets [fr]:

#Infographie : Résultats des #Intikhabates au #Maroc wp.me/p1fQiD-g7

#Infographic: Moroccan election results wp.me/p1fQiD-g7
Graphic posted on Twitter by @Redalinho

Graphic posted on Twitter by @Redalinho

According to the graph, 63% (13.5 million) registered to vote and only 29% of the total potential 21.6 million Moroccan eligible voters cast their ballot.

Mahjoub Feryate (@feryate) posts [ar] the following graph showing the evolution of voter turnout in legislative elections in Morocco since independence in 1956:

مهم جدا: رسم مبياني لنسب المشاركة في جميع الانتخابات المغربية http://pic.twitter.com/D7xiYntr
Very important: Graphic showing voter turnout in every poll in Morocco http://pic.twitter.com/D7xiYntr
Voter turnout in Morocco since independence, posted on Twitter by @feryate

Voter turnout in Morocco since independence, posted on Twitter by @feryate

According to official figures, 20% of the votes were blank or canceled. Mahjoub Feryate (@feryate) posts this picture taken in a polling station during the vote count. An official shows a spoiled ballot:

Picture posted on Twitter by @feryate

Picture posted on Twitter by @feryate

Reactions to the participation rate were mixed.

Khalid Aarifi (@khalidaarifi) tweets [ar]:

بنسبة مشاركة افضل من سابقتها و بالفوز الكبير للبيجيدي، انتخابات 25 نونبر شكلت فعلا محطة جديدة في المسار الديمقراطي للبلاد،#intikhabates
With a participation rate better than 2007 and with this great victory of the PJD, we can consider that this is a great step in the democratization process of the country.

Ichrak Ma (@ichrak_ma), however, tweets:

@ichrak_ma: I am proud to announce that the vote turnout in my family is 0% :) #intikhabate #Morocco poke @Tama_Hanich

And the winner is…

As the first preliminary results were announced, the Twitter account of the PJD party, @PJDofficiel, started gathering new followers and attracting the attention of Moroccan Twitter users. Mehdi TAZI (@passiondcrire) tweets [fr]:

Les marocains ont voté à 45% pour #intikhabates mais je suis sur que l'attention de plus de 50% des marocains est porté sur @pjdofficiel.

45% of Moroccans may have voted in these elections but I'm sure more that 50% of them have their eyes on @pjdofficiel [tonight].

Soon, the hashtag #PJD started trending, as highlighted by Okbi Moncef (@zeplintor) who tweets:

#PJD en trending TOPIC mondial sur twitter d.pr/2Efg sur tweet stat bit.ly/PyWVm #intikhabates

#PJD is now a global trending topic on Twitter according to Tweet Stat d.pr/2Efg #intikhabates

Okbi Moncef posts the following screenshot, supposedly showing the main topics trending globally on Friday night:

PJD trending

The unprecedented victory of the Islamist party elicited many responses amongst Moroccan tweeps. Wasseem Kabbara (@kabbara) is quick to remind the winners of the following:

Let us not forget that a true democratic system respects the minority and is responsible to offer equal opportunity.

Ibn Kafka (@IbnKafka) wonders:

Does @pjdofficiel have it in them to evolve like the AKP and challenge the “deep state” institutions? I doubt it #morocco #intikhabates

Reda Lemniaï (@Redalinho) is skeptical. He tweets [fr]:

Au 1er de l'an 1433, le #PJD gagna les élections au #Maroc. Cela ne changea rien, le Royaume étant une monarchie absolue. #Intikhabates

On the first day of the year 1433 [in the Hegira Islamic] calendar, the PJD won the elections. This will not change anything, since the kingdom is an absolute monarchy.

Moroccan expats

Moroccans living abroad and willing to vote, had to cast their ballot by proxy. Samia Errazzouki (@charquaouia), a Moroccan living in Washington DC, demonstrated in front of the White House to express her frustration for not being able to vote for herself. She tweets:

Since we couldn't vote today, me and @ManalBou decided to protest instead! http://yfrog.com/ny7xghtj #intikhabates #morocco

Samia posts the following picture on Twitter:

Picture posted on Twitter by @charquaouia

Picture posted on Twitter by @charquaouia

“A joke is a very serious thing”

Very late on Friday night a hashtag spread like wildfire on Twitter: #fakepress. As press releases announced the victory of the PJD, Twitter users started tweeting fake and humorous headlines, playing with popular clichés and stereotypes.

Rajae blogging on twitto ergo sum collected [fr] some of the irreverent tweets:

Benkisition !

Benquisition! [in reference to Abdelilah Benkirane, the leader of the PJD party]

Vote pour un, voile pour toutes

Vote for one, and veil for all.

Après le printemps arabe, l'hiver islamiste

After the Arab spring, here comes the Islamist winter.

Some have celebrated the PJD victory in the most unexpected places. Late on Saturday night, Yacine Baroudi (@FasTake) tweets [fr]:

L'exception #Marocaine: #Photo célébrant la “victoire” du PJD dans… la boîte le “Silver”!!! #Marrakech http://fstk.it/xppvp #intikhabates

Moroccan Exception: Picture of a party celebrating PJD victory in… “Silver” night club in #Marrakech http://fstk.it/xppvp #intikhabates
Picture posted on Twitpic by @FasTake

Picture posted on Twitpic by @FasTake

PJD's victory in the parliamentary elections is a first in Morocco. Also unprecedented, is the way Twitter and social networks in general, have been used to monitor the poll and engage with political figures.

As an increasing number of Moroccan political parties, public figures, government and non-governmental organizations join online network, it is very likely that these channels will play a greater role in the future political life in the country.

This post is part of our special coverage Morocco Protests 2011.

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