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Morocco Democracy: Benkirane Creates Narrow Coalition

Rabat, Morocco --- December 10, 2011 ....Abdelilah Benkirane, Morocco’s next Prime Minister, decided to expedite the formation of his new government by immediately forming a narrow, small majority government. This way, it would be possible to begin implementing the new Constitution and the new good governance socio-economic policies immediately. The new government’s focus on domestic issues was clearly stated.

“Social issues will be given priority by the incoming government in Morocco, which will put emphasis on the sectors of education, health, employment, housing and justice,” Benkirane told a gathering of political leaders.

In the immediate future, Benkirane’s Justice and Development Party (107 seats - 27%) agreed to form a narrow-majority government with the two parties with whom he reached agreement on the key policy issues - the venerable Independence Party - Istiklal (60 seats - 15%) and the Popular Movement (32 seats - 8%) that is predominantly Amazigh/Berber. Together, the three-party coalition will have 199 seats (50%) - one more than the 198 seats required for a majority.

As indicated before, the trial and tribulations of Morocco’s coalition-building process is far from over. Moroccan parties and their leaders still grapple with the complexities of coalition forming negotiations under the authority and responsibility accorded by the new Constitution.  After first demonstrating interest in joining the government, the National Rally of Independents now decided to join the Authenticity and Modernity Party in the opposition.

On the other hand, the Party for Progress and Socialism (18 seats - 5%) that had broken down the Koutla alliance and thus scuttled the initial coalition negotiations is now having second thoughts given the socio-economic character of Benkirane’s plans.

Mustapha Adichane of the party’s policy committee informed Benkirane’s negotiators that the Party for Progress and Socialism was once again leaning towards joining the coalition. Adichane acknowledged that being part of a government implementing profound socio-economic reforms would be “the best way to serve the interests of the country, even though some voices within the party are [still] calling for it to join the opposition.”

A final decision will be made after the central committee’s meeting during the coming weekend.

Regardless of the trial and tribulations of the initial coalition-forming negotiations, Benkirane still plans on subsequently expanding the coalition with both mainstream-centrist and socialist-oriented parties. He is convinced that it is imperative for Morocco to consolidate a wide, national-unity government that will have the broad-based grassroots mandate required to oversee the implementation of the profound domestic socio-economic reforms Morocco needs.

In his meetings with Morocco political leaders Benkirane stressed that “the current situation is quite unusual and requires everyone to join forces to lead Morocco towards the development that people are counting on.”

He did not try to conceal the differences between his own Islamist Justice and Development Party and the other parties - be their secular socialist oriented or centrist-royalist. He argued that working together in order to meet Morocco’s needs should be the overriding priority of everybody.

“Of course we have our differences at the ideological level, but we are agreed on a number of points,” Benkirane emphasized.

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