Morocco’s ruling Islamists have suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the liberals in the country’s parliamentary elections, according to preliminary results announced on Thursday.
Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit announced the early results after 96 per cent of the vote had been counted, Morocco’s official news agency MAP reported on Thursday.
The Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which has been in power for over a decade, won just 12 seats in the country’s 395-seat parliament, plummeting from the 125 seats it got in the 2016 parliament.
The PJD’s liberal rival, the National Rally of Independents (RNI), won 97 seats to become the largest party in parliament.
The Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) came in second, winning 82 seats to retain its position as the second biggest party, despite winning fewer seats than in the last parliament.
The conservative Independence Party came third, winning 78 seats.
Several other parties also won more seats than the Islamists, who have lead government coalitions in the North African country since 2011.
Following recent electoral changes in Morocco, this was the first time parliamentary and local elections were held on the same day in an attempt to boost voter turnout.
Laftit said 50 per cent of the nearly 18 million eligible voters cast their ballots, a marked improvement on the 43 per cent turnout in 2016.
The polls are Morocco’s third legislative elections since the monarchy adopted constitutional reforms in response to the street protests that erupted during the 2011 Arab Spring.
Despite the changes, King Mohammed VI remains the most powerful person in the country and continues to take most major political decisions himself.