The much-anticipated Moroccan parliamentary elections have finally come to a close, with surprising results. Although the Islamist PJD (Justice and Development Party) was expected to sweep the polls, the conservative Istiqlal (Independence) Party won 52 seats  (the PJD won 47), leaving some to speculate upon the fairness of the voting (although Reuters Africa reports  that the elections were quite orderly).
Yesterday, Global Voices Online's Francophone editor Jennifer Brea  shared with us an interview  with Intikhabat2007.com , a submission-driven photoblog dedicated to getting Moroccans to express their thoughts on politics. The site's organizers stated in the interview that few political parties in Morocco have managed to get the attention of the people and unfortunately, only an estimated 37% turned up on voting day.
Author Laila Lalami  lamented her inability to vote:
By the way, even though I have dual Moroccan and American citizenships, and even though the constitution provides for the voting rights of MREs (or Moroccans Residing Abroad) I am not able to vote in these elections, because no procedures have been put in place for absentee ballots. Voters must be present at their precincts. More than 3 million Moroccans are thus excluded from the democratic experiment.
Agadir  (fr) was disappointed in the lack of voter turnout:
Avant de nous aventurer dans des lectures zélées et des prédictions hasardeuses, une chose est sûre, le taux de participation n’a pas atteint les espérances de tous acteurs politiques. Jusqu’à hier soir à 18h, on parlait de 34% de taux de participation avec une estimation du Ministre de l’Intérieur allant jusqu’à 41% lors de la fermeture des bureaux de vote.
Yassine shared the sentiment:
What I can see is that though the Moroccan government for the first time have put a big budget on advertising, turnout was bellow expectations as can be seen from the news. May be the cause of this is that there was “no real debates by either the government or the opposition”, and the parties’ platforms were “global and ambiguous” as Mohammed Tozy has suggested.
Agora  (fr) speculates that perhaps the elections are only the first step:
Pour moi les enjeux sont ailleurs. Ils sont dans l'éducation -elle doit être revue de fond en comble-, la santé et la justice. Quand ces trois piliers de ce qu'on appelle “l'Etat moderne” seront réunis le reste suivra. Et les gens se déplaceront d'eux même pour voter sans qu'on ne les supplie pour le faire.
Blogger Selwa  (fr) celebrated the PJD's non-victory:
- Contente que le PJD ne soit pas premier…Qui l'aurait dit…70 à 80 sièges ils pensaient avoir…Et beh!
Moralité de l'histoire: Il ne faut pas avoir les yeux plus gros que le ventre.
Finally, Eatbees  offered highlights of the elections, summing up his thoughts on the whole thing:
Anyone who says this is a victory for Moroccan democracy has been smoking something. This was a victory for subtle, technocratic gaming of the system that gave the Makhzen exactly what it wanted, a free ride for five more years. I don’t see how this can be healthy in the long run, because the disillusionment bubbling beneath the surface is not going to go away, only now the safety valve is shut for five more years. The only other “winners” in this process are those who boycotted the elections altogether in order to discredit the system, since it will be hard for the powers that be to spin a 41% turnout as a vote of confidence.
Blogger Bill Day  adds:
As Eatbees sees it, the only winner was the Palace.
For more blogger reactions to the elections in French, English, and Arabic, check out the Blogma Aggregator .
Image Credit: Intikhabat2007.com