Parliamentary elections in Morocco: statement by the PACE observer mission

Strasbourg, 26.11.2011 – The parliamentary elections held in Morocco on 25 November 2011 went off calmly, allowing the voters to choose freely among the different political parties.

The delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) notes with satisfaction that following the adoption of the new Constitution on 1 July 2011, the Moroccan authorities improved the electoral framework, which facilitates the organisation of free and fair elections provided this text is properly implemented. The delegation does, however, regret that the amendments to the electoral legislation were adopted late, less than one month before the launch of the official campaign, which is incompatible with the Council of Europe’s recommendations on electoral practices.

The delegation welcomes the increased turnout as compared with previous parliamentary elections. Despite the brevity of the election campaign, which officially began on 12 November, the main political players managed to motivate the electorate, which was one of the major issues at stake in this poll.

According to Ministry of the Interior statistics, some 13.4 million Moroccan citizens were on the electors’ lists. As exhaustive electoral registers were a key element in the electoral process, the delegation regrets that, according to some of the people it spoke to, the current election system fails to encourage the registration of large numbers of citizens. A considerable proportion of the 20 million or so Moroccans who are of legal voting age were left off the lists. In this connection, the delegation also stresses that the procedure for voting by proxy, aimed at Moroccan citizens who reside abroad, does not facilitate the exercise of the constitutional right to vote.

The delegation was informed of a number of alleged irregularities during the election campaign. They concerned cases of vote-buying, undue use of administrative resources, and also intimidation and exertion of pressure, particularly in respect of those who had called for a boycott of the elections. Consequently, the delegation has asked the relevant authorities to fully elucidate these allegations and, should they prove founded, to establish the responsibilities and notify the Moroccan population and the international observers as quickly as possible. It is vital to prevent the recurrence of such practices at future elections, so as to reinforce the Moroccan citizens’ confidence in the democratic functioning of their institutions.

The delegation would like to highlight the remarkable work of the High Authority on Audiovisual Communications. The media coverage of the campaigns by the opposing parties was generally fair. However, the delegation stresses that it is vital for any balanced media coverage to properly reflect the expressions of all shades of opinion, including those advocating abstention.

The delegation salutes the remarkable work of the Moroccan National Human Rights Council throughout the election campaign.

It recalls that the Assembly is prepared to step up its co-operation with the newly elected Parliament in the framework of Resolution 1818 (2011) on “Partner for Democracy” status, and encourages the authorities to intensify their co-operation with the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission in order to improve electoral legislation.

PACE will be adopting its final report on the election observation on 23 January 2012 in Strasbourg.


Delegation members:

Tomáš Jirsa (Czech Republic, EDG), Head of delegation
Khadija Arib (Netherlands, SOC)
Joe Benton (United Kingdom, SOC)
Miljenko Doric (Croatia, ALDE)
Josette Durrieu (France, SOC)
Sergei Egorov (Russian Federation, EDG)
Mladen Grujic (Serbia, EPP/CD)
Margus Hanson (Estonia, ALDE)
Francine John-Calame (Switzerland, SOC)
Jan Kazmierczak (Poland, EPP/CD)
Pietro Marcenaro (Italy, SOC)
Yves Pozzo di Borgo (France, EPP/CD)
Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC)
Mehmet Tekelioglu (Turkey, EPP/CD)
Katrin Werner (Germany, UEL)

Contacts:

Chemavon Chahbazian, Interparliamentary Co-operation and Election Observation Unit, mobile: +33 (0)6 50 39 29 40
Francesc Ferrer, PACE Communication Division, tel. +33 (3) 88 41 32 50, mobile (from 23 to 26 November) +212 (0)6 78 86 88 73.