The Fight for Istiqlal Becomes Tense as Parties Build Coalitions

Rabat – After Friday’s national legislative elections, political parties have begun holding meetings to determine their alliances for the next five years.The elections gave a 55-seat boost to the opposition Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) and an 18-seat increase to the ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD) – revealing a new bipolarity in Moroccan politics that pits secularists against Islamists.Neither PAM, nor PJD holds a majority of seats, meaning alliances with the Istiqlal Party, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) and other moderately powerful parties will be essential in determining the legislative strength of the opposition and government coalitions. PAM’s Ilyas El-Omari, Istiqlal’s Hamid Chabat and USFP’s Driss Lachgar held an unofficial meeting on Saturday to see if the three-way opposition coalition could be feasible. No final decision has yet been made regarding the alliance, according to Le360.Together, the trio would control 168 seats, while the PJD alone holds 125 seats.If Istiqlal (46 seats) chooses to side with the PJD, the government coalition would have power over 210 seats, when the Popular Movement (27 seats), and the Party of Progress and Socialism (12 seats) are taken into account.The PAM’s success in doubling its presence in the House and PJD’s modest rise in representation caused several other parties to hemorrhage seats on October 7th.Voters awarded the National Rally of Independents, which used to be led by Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar before he resigned yesterday, 37 seats – 15 less than they did in 2011.The Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) saw its representation in the parliament nearly halve, from 39 seats in the previous elections, to 20 seats this time around.The Constitutional Union (UC) lost four seats and the Popular Movement (MP) lost five.

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