Jamai on the PJD polls

Abou Bakr Jamai, editor of Morocco's only truly independent publication, Le Journal Hebdo, has an interesting post on his WaPo blog about the biggest political controversy of the moment in Morocco: polls that indicate the Islamist PJD party is set to come about 30% ahead of the next party in next year's parliamentary election.

When first asked about the party they would vote for, Moroccans chose the socialist party with 13% in support. The Islamist PJD party ranked third with 9%. But more than 55% of the citizens polled claimed to be undecided. When those 55% were asked to make up their mind one way or the other, more than 66% chose the Islamist party. That gives the PJD a tremendous lead over the other parties.

These figures are interesting in that they show that the portion of the electorate that gives the PJD such overwhelming support are not diehard PJD followers. When asked about what qualities a political party should have to be effective, Moroccans cite honesty, fighting corruption, and responsiveness to citizens' needs as the main attributes. These are attributes that a secular party could perfectly claim.
So true of many other Arab countries.

There was a profile of Bou Bakr in the New Yorker [scanned 7.2MB PDF, it's not available online] in October, and I highly recommend it. It captures Bou Bakr quite well, including the incredible stubbornness that is his greatest strength and greatest flaw. The Arab world needs more people like him.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.