The legislative elections in Morocco came and went, and the much hyped Islamist tsunami never materialized. As I suggested here on Friday, the PJD (Party of Justice and Development) failed to win a majority of seats–which would have been nearly impossible anyway, thanks to recent electoral reforms–or even to come in first place. They ended up in second place with 47 seats. The pre-election hype about a possible PJD win did serve the Makhzen well, however, presenting the monarchy once again as a bulwark against Islamists of all stripes, even moderate ones. Meanwhile, press and civil freedoms continue to be eroded.
What is surprising, however, is that Istiqlal, the conservative party whom many would have written off as a group of has-been politicians from Fes, took the lead, with 52 seats. The USFP, whose leftist credentials have long been forgotten, were big losers, coming in fifth place with 36 seats. The 2002 elections ushered USFP to power, and they had formed a coalition with Istiqlal in order to keep PJD in check. Now comes news that, in the wake of the 2007 elections, Istiqlal plans on creating a coalition with USFP. The more things change, the more they stay the same.