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Monday, 30 September, 2002, 03:25 GMT 04:25 UK
Socialists set to win Morocco poll
party voting
Islamists have made big gains
Provisional results from the parliamentary election in Morocco suggest the main party in the outgoing coalition, the Socialist USFP, is in the lead, although the Islamist party has made strong gains.

Provisional results
UFSP: 45 seats
Istiqlal (Independence): 43 seats
PJD: 38
RNI: 38

The official results indicate that the USFP has won 45 seats of the 295 so far declared, and its main coalition partner, the conservative Istiqlal (Independence) party, has 43.

The moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) has more than doubled its number of representatives to 38, according to the early results announced by Interior Minister Driss Jettou.

The centre-right National Rally of Independents party, RNI, also took 38 seats, though reports say the four main parties could add to their tallies before the final division of seats is announced.

Toned down

The current standings mean that the USFP - with the support of its six allies in the outgoing ruling coalition - will have more than half the 325 seats. The Socialists have already ruled out including the Islamists in any new coalition.

We kept our promise to organise clean elections

Driss Jettou
Interior Minister
However, these elections mark a significant success for the Islamist Party, which was only formed six years ago.

Many of its members have a more radical Islamist past, but toned down their politics in order to become a legal party.

Observers say much of their support comes from the fact they have a clear programme and work hard at local level, particularly in poor urban areas.

A Moroccan woman washes her linen in front of empty electoral posters in Casablanca
One in five Moroccans lives below the poverty line
The delay in giving the final result is due to the complexity of the new voting system brought in for these elections, according to the interior ministry.

The Socialist USFP has been the main opposition party in Morocco since independence and many of its members are former political prisoners.

Five years ago, the late King Hassan decided to give the party the chance to govern for the first time and the poll was rigged accordingly.

First elections

The authorities maintain that this time, the elections have been free of interference.

"We kept our promise to organise clean elections," Interior Minister Driss Jettou said as the results started to come.

It was the first general election under King Mohammed VI and attracted a "very respectable" 52% turnout, the interior minister said.

However, parliament in Morocco has only limited power.

The last government was dominated by ministers who were appointed by and answerable to the king and not to parliament.

Many observers say that meant the Socialists were blocked from carrying out their programme.

It is not clear whether the king will also appoint the key ministers in the next government.

The BBC's Stephanie Irvine
"The king has promised there'll be no interference in the result"
See also:

25 Sep 02 | Media reports
14 Sep 02 | Africa
18 Mar 02 | Business
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03 Oct 00 | Business
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