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Said Zaghouti

The Moroccan left fights back

Islamists won the last parliamentary elections in November 2011 [AFP]

Date of publication: 25 December, 2014

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A federation of left-wing parties in Morocco is preparing to challenge the Islamists in upcoming elections.

Observers of the Moroccan political scene have commended the merger of three leftist political parties earlier this year as a sign that the left is now prepared to fight for its relevance on the national political scene.

The Socialist Democratic Vanguard Party, the National Congress Party and the United Socialist Party, formed a bloc called the Federation of the Democratic Left on 23 March 2014. The date is the anniversary of the 1965 student uprising, and symbolised the union's aim to follow in that movement's footsteps.

According to its founders the federation aims to rebuild the Moroccan left based on principles of modernity, democracy and human rights, including complete equality between men and women, the separation of political power from capital and the equal distribution of wealth.

     The Arab Spring revived the left that had been declining in recent years.

In Morocco, the Arab Spring, especially the 20 February movement that organised protests, revived a left that had been declining in recent years.

The official response to the protests was to call for constitutional amendments and early elections, which helped subdue the movement. In June 2011, King Mohammad VI announced a series of reforms that would turn the country into a constitutional monarchy.

The Islamist Justice and Development Party (JDP) that had also been repressed and persecuted by the authorities, voted in favour of the constitutional amendments.

However, sections of the left saw the amendments as an attempt by the state to sidestep the demands of the 20 February movement, voted against them and boycotted parliamentary elections held at the end of 2011. As a result the elections were won by the JDP and it has headed parliament for the past three years.

Similar dynamics elsewhere during the Arab Spring allowed Islamist movements to rise to power. In Morocco, however, the left has reacted by increasing efforts to remain relevant on the national political scene. Forming the Federation is one way the left hopes to increase its power and unite civil society, student and human rights groups within a unified framework. The federation has announced it will take part in upcoming elections.

The left has thus chosen to fight for change from within government institutions, rather through revolutionary activities.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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