Justice and Development Party, a strong coalition partner in the previous two governments collapse from 125 seats to just 12 after a count of 96 percent of all parliamentary seats.

A man casts his ballot inside a polling station in Casablanca, Morocco on September 8, 2021.
A man casts his ballot inside a polling station in Casablanca, Morocco on September 8, 2021. (Abdeljalil Bounhar / AP)

Morocco's ruling party has suffered a crushing defeat to opposition parties in parliamentary elections.

The Justice and Development Party (PJD) saw its support collapse from 125 seats to just 12, far behind its main rivals, the National Rally of Independents (RNI) and the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), and the centre-right Istiqlal Party, the interior minister said on Thursday. 

RNI, led by billionaire agriculture minister Aziz Akhannouch, took 97 of the 395-seat parliament, followed by PAM with 82 seats and the Istiqlal with 78 seats.

Above 50% turnout

The PJD, which had been a coalition partner in the previous two governments had only taken few seats after a count of 96% of all parliamentary seats.

The results show a massive turnaround in fortunes as the RNI had only won 37 seats at the last election in 2016, while the PJD took 125.

RNI ministers controlled the key economic portfolios of agriculture, finance, trade and tourism in the outgoing government.

Turnout in Wednesday elections improved to 50.3 percent, up from 43 percent in 2016, as Morocco held parliamentary and local elections on the same day.

Constitutional monarchy

Morocco is a constitutional monarchy where the king holds sweeping powers in the North African country.

He picks the prime minister from the party that won the most seats in parliament who will then form a cabinet and submits it for the King's approval.

The Palace has the last say on appointments concerning key departments including the interior, foreign affairs and defence.

New voting rules were expected to make it harder for bigger parties to win as many seats as before, which means the RNI will have to enter into coalition talks to form a government.

The palace also sets the economic agenda for the country of 37 million people and has commissioned a development model that the new government is being asked to implement.

Vote-fraud allegations

On Wednesday evening, PJD had raised allegations of "serious irregularities," including "obscene cash handouts" near polling stations and "confusion" on some electoral rolls, with some voters finding they were not listed.

However, the interior minister said voting took place "under normal circumstances" apart from some isolated incidents.

In 2011, Morocco adopted a new constitution devolving many of the monarch's powers to parliament and the government. However, decisions in key areas continue to come from initiatives of King Mohammed VI.

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Source: AFP