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Morocco's Arab Spring election won by Islamists

The dominant showing by an Islamist Party in Morocco's parliamentary elections, according to partial results, appears to be one more sign that religious-based parties are benefiting the most from the new freedoms brought by the Arab Spring.

world Updated: Nov 28, 2011 02:09 IST

The dominant showing by an Islamist Party in Morocco's parliamentary elections, according to partial results, appears to be one more sign that religious-based parties are benefiting the most from the new freedoms brought by the Arab Spring.

Across the Middle East, parties referencing Islam have made great strides, offering an alternative to corrupt, long serving dictators, who have often ruled with close Western support.

The Justice and Development Party dominated Morocco's elections through a combination of good organisation, an outsider status and not being too much of a threat to Morocco's all-powerful king.

By taking 80 seats out of the 282 seats so far announced in Friday's elections, the party ensured that King Mohammed VI must pick the next prime minister from its ranks and to form the next government out of the dozen parties in Morocco's parliament.

It is the first time the PJD -- as it is known by its French initials -- will be part of the government and its outsider status could be just what Morocco, wracked by pro-democracy protests, needs.

Although it didn't bring down the government, the North African kingdom of 32 million, just across the water from Spain, was still touched by the waves of unrest that swept the Arab world following the revolution in Tunisia, with tens of thousands marching in the streets calling for greater freedoms and less corruption.

The king responded by modifying the constitution to give the next parliament and prime minister more powers, and held early elections.

But there was still a vigorous movement to boycott the elections. There was only a 45% turnout in Friday's polls, and many of those who went to vote turned in blank ballots or crossed out every party listed to show their dissatisfaction with the system.