The PJD takes responsibility for electoral decline

The Islamist party blames their failure on themselves and declares that they "failed to understand society"


Morocco's Justice and Development party has changed its discourse with respect to the electoral debacle it suffered in the last national elections. This is what the party's secretary general, Abdelilah Benkirane, and other leaders of the political party wanted to make clear, after assuming in different speeches that the defeat of the PJD is the consequence of an "internal failure". 

Benkirane has been the political figure who has been most vocal in this regard. In this regard, the Islamist leader admitted how the party had failed to "understand and assimilate our society, our state and our international and regional circumstances". This statement comes in response to the abrupt fall of the PJD after the party lost 112 MPs out of 125, ending a decade of governance.


The party, which was once a favourite of Moroccan citizens for its promises to fight corruption and defend social justice, lost the confidence of Moroccans due to its inability to respond to citizens' demands. In this vein, the PJD gained strength in the context of the Arab Spring, when its populist discourse managed to gain traction among citizens. Although they did not lead the key portfolios such as Foreign Affairs, Economy or Religious Affairs, which are headed by personalities appointed directly by King Mohammed VI, they did maintain an important and influential presence in the rest of the Executive, where, according to various experts, "they were not up to the task", in addition to pointing out that there was a democratic deficit in the party's internal management.

In fact, members of the PJD were able to use the religious component to reach out to certain social sectors. Islamists claim that it is their "duty" to fight immorality and to enter politics so that, through politics, they can combat lack of morality or "decadent" and "indecent" behaviour.

During the 2011 elections, with 27.08% of the vote, the Islamist party managed to form a government with nationalists from Istiqlal, liberal-conservatives from the Popular Movement and ex-communists from the Party for Progress and Socialism. Four years later it improved its results with 27.88% of the vote and it was at this time that its leader, Abdelilah Benkirane, was ousted by Sadd-Eddine El Othmani.


Following a populist strategy, the party advocated a slogan based on "give me your votes and let me face them for you", thus trying to win popular sympathy. Even so, they did not succeed in this endeavour and this ignited rejection from different social groups.

At this stage, El Othmani's mismanagement in the cities of Marrakech, Tangier, Meknès, Agadir, Kenitra, Salé and Fez caused him to lose followers rapidly and abruptly. According to various experts, "the presidents of the communal councils had put their presence and influence in parliament ahead of the management of the cities, which led to his downfall".

Furthermore, the new reforms approved during this period, such as the approval of French as the language of instruction in technical courses, replacing Arabic, and Morocco's own rapprochement with Israel and the support of the PJD leadership, influenced by US support for Moroccan sovereignty in the Sahara, may have contributed to the party's sharp fall. 

Moreover, the fact that the PJD was more concerned with pursuing an Islamist agenda than with social demands caused the party to lose followers and sympathy. Benkirane himself is now the most critical in this regard, declaring that "our inability to understand and accommodate our society, our state and our international and regional circumstances is what led us to the situation we are in". 


In the last elections, which saw a high turnout partly because they coincided with regional and municipal elections, the liberal centrist National Rally of Independents (RNI), led by Aziz Akhannouch, won. Since the RNI has been in power, the new government has committed itself to social welfare, as well as approving a series of economic reforms aimed at "stimulating the national economy for the benefit of employment", something it is so far succeeding in doing. 

In addition, the new government is being characterised as more inclusive with regard to gender equality. Although Morocco, like other Arab countries, is still far from being fully inclusive, the Alawi kingdom has six women ministers, something that has never happened before in the country. In this vein, the former Minister of Tourism, Nadia Fettah, now heads the Ministry of Economy, one of the kingdom's most important ministries.