Partnership for Democracy with Morocco: legislative elections well administered but with a low turnout

Following the invitation of the National Council of Human Rights (CNDH), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) observed the elections to the House of Representatives of Morocco on 7 October 2016.

This is the second time PACE has observed elections in Morocco since the country’s parliament was granted “Partner for Democracy" status with PACE as the first non-European parliament in 2011 and committed itself to do everything possible in order for elections to be conducted according to international standards.

The PACE delegation, led by Ian Liddell-Grainger (United Kingdom, EC), welcomes the professionalism of the authorities, who organised the poll with integrity and in full transparency. It commends the professionalism and courtesy of the members of the polling stations that the delegation met during its visit. “Moroccans, called upon to organise these elections within a modified legislative framework, have risen to this important challenge,” the delegation said.

It noted that some aspects of the electoral process could be improved by receiving advice from the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, of which Morocco is a full member. Cases of electoral fraud were reported, even though the members of the delegation didn’t see them; however, any such case should be investigated.

The creation of an independent Central Electoral Commission could be considered, the delegation said.

It welcomes changes in legislation opening the young people list to women and the choice made by some parties to include a majority of women in their young people lists; it regrets that these and other legislative changes were made only at a late stage.

It also regrets that the current voters’ registration system and the awareness campaign have not produced a turnout higher than in 2011, particularly among young voters, and notes the surprisingly high amount of spoilt ballot papers. The late release of party programmes/manifestos might have been one of the reasons for the low turnout, the delegation said.

The fact that the voting/representation of Moroccans living abroad is organised only by proxy voting could be discussed or reconsidered.

Finally, the organisation of the polling stations in a more structured manner could be improved; particularly in the counting process, through the adoption of two ballot papers (one for national and one for local lists) and the improvement of access for disabled people.

The PACE delegation salutes the commitment demonstrated by members of the Moroccan delegation, which participated very actively in its work after obtaining Partner for Democracy status in 2011. The Moroccan delegation was able to showcase the development of the democratic process in their country but also helped make members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe more aware of the challenges Morocco faces.

In the context of its work with the Parliament of Morocco, PACE continues to actively support the Moroccans in their efforts towards the consolidation of the democratic process in their country. PACE is naturally ready to continue working with renewed interest with the new delegation which it hopes will be designated as soon as possible.

PACE will discuss the report on the parliamentary elections during the November 2016 Standing Committee meeting in Cyprus.

The PACE delegation visited Morocco between 5 and 8 October. It met with some of the candidates, representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, the President of the CNDH, and several representatives of civil society, media and international organisations. On election day, seven teams of observers were deployed and observed the vote in Rabat and its surrounding area, as well as in the regions of Casablanca, Fes, Marrakech and Tangiers.

For further information, please contact:
Alessandro Mancini, PACE, + (212) (0) 609 00 18 93 / + 33 6 09 17 61 70, alessandro.mancini@coe.int