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Morocco Schedules Parliamentary Elections for October 7

  • Reuters

FILE - Austerity measures that the Moroccan government launched to revive public finances have started to weigh on the popularity of Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, who is shown above talking to reporters in Madrid in June 2015.

FILE - Austerity measures that the Moroccan government launched to revive public finances have started to weigh on the popularity of Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, who is shown above talking to reporters in Madrid in June 2015.

Morocco's government said Thursday that parliamentary elections would be held October 7, the second ballot since the kingdom adopted constitutional reforms designed to calm protests during the Arab Spring uprisings.

The Islamist Justice and Development party, known by its French acronym PJD, won elections in 2011 and has led the government since then. It was the first time King Mohammed had allowed an Islamist group to take power.

The reformed constitution has shifted some powers to the elected government but Mohammed still retains ultimate authority.

Analysts believe the PJD could win a second term in the October vote, although austerity measures that the government launched to revive public finances have started to weigh on Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane's popularity.

Benkirane's government may face even further pressure this year as weak growth is expected, with a drought looming after an exceptional cereal harvest in 2015. Agriculture accounts for more than 15 percent of the Moroccan economy.

The government sees gross domestic product growing by only 3 percent in 2016, down from 5 percent last year, as agricultural output is expected to drop sharply. The central bank is forecasting only 2.6 percent this year.

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