Liberals dealt a crushing blow to Islamic parties in Morocco’s parliamentary election on Thursday.
The National Rally of Independents party gained 97 seats, while the Justice and Development Party (PJD), affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, recorded a significant decline, winning only 12 seats – down from 125 – after 96% of the votes were counted, according to the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior.
Other rival parties – the Authenticity and Modernity Party and the center-right Istiqlal party – won 82 and 78 seats respectively in the 395-seat assembly.
Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani, who is also head of PJD, resigned on Thursday. King Mohammed VI will now name a prime minister from the winning party.
The parties that gained seats in this election are more closely aligned with the king, who decided to normalize relations with Israel last year and join the historic Abraham Accords.
Since its participation in the first parliamentary elections in 1997, PJD eventually reached the prime ministership in 2011 and has been holding onto power since then. Hence, the election results came as a shock.
The Brotherhood’s loss in Morocco, which comes after the party was excluded from the Tunisian government this year, marks a major decline of the group in the Middle East and North Africa since its rise to power during the Arab Spring. The Brotherhood presented itself at the time as an alternative to dictatorships in the Arab regimes, but the popularity of the group has gradually waned over the years, likely due to its hardline stance and threats of terror attacks against Christians and other minorities in the region.
After its dismal showing in Morocco’s election this week, the Muslim Brotherhood blamed its failure in Morocco on the normalization agreement with Israel, despite the agreement being approved by the previous government which the PJD led.
Though voter turnout was only 50%, it exceeded 66% in certain regions and represented an overall increase from 43% in the 2016 elections.