Morocco: Towards a cohabitation between the King and the Islamists?

The overwhelming victory of the Moroccan Islamists at the legislative elections of 25 November 2011 allowed Morocco to defuse the popular protest represented by the 20 February movement, and announced a new political turn of events: the cohabitation between the Palace and the Islamist government led by Abdelillah Benkirane.

The legislative elections of 25 November 2011took place in the context of a process of political reform. This was initiated to absorb the shockwave created by the Arab Spring, and to defuse the wave of protest that shook in Morocco, known as the 20 February movement. The major reform was the adoption of a new Constitution in July 2011 . This broadened the competences of government and parliament, and made executive power the responsibility of the head of government. This new institutional deal has made legislative elections a focus of interest and has sharpened competition between political parties standing for election.

The Parti de la Justice et du Développement (PJD) is well-organised and has an ideological line and political proposals that make it stand out from other Moroccan parties. It won a massive victory in the 2011 ballot, becoming the leading political force in the country. The current political configuration is thus exceptional, with an Islamist-led government, experimenting a form of ‘cohabitation’ with the King. How this experience turns out will be decisive when it comes to the effective repartitioning of powers between the Palace and the head of government, but also for the future of the Islamist party itself. As illustrated by its strong showing in the legislative elections, the party is very popular.