Morocco to hold parliamentary elections in 2016

Moroccans will go to the polls on October 7 for the second general election since the king made constitutional reforms in 2011

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Morocco will hold a parliamentary election on Oct. 7, the second ballot since the kingdom adopted constitutional reforms designed to calm protests during the Arab Spring uprisings.

The Islamist Justice and Development party, known by its French acronym PJD, won elections in 2011 and has led the government since then. It was the first time King Mohammed had allowed an Islamist group to take power.

The reformed constitution has shifted some powers to the elected government but King Mohammed still retains ultimate authority.

“The next parliamentary elections will take place on Oct. 7, 2016,” a government statement issued after the weekly cabinet meeting said.

Analysts believe the PJD could win a second term in the 2016 election although austerity measures that the government launched to revive public finances have started to weigh on Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane’s popularity.

Benkirane’s government may face even further pressure this year as weak growth is expected, with a drought looming after an exceptional cereal harvest in 2015. Agriculture accounts for more than 15 percent of the Moroccan economy.

The government sees gross domestic product (GDP) growing by only 3 percent in 2016, down from 5 percent last year, as agricultural output is expected to drop sharply. The central bank is forecasting only 2.6 percent this year.

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