Washington, D.C. — Moroccans went to the polls on Friday, October 7, 2016 to vote in the second parliamentary elections since the constitutional changes that followed the Arab Spring protests in 2011. Alhurra Television and Radio Sawa provided special coverage on television, radio, and online of this significant event in which 30 parties competed for 395 seats in Morocco’s Parliament. Alhurra and Radio Sawa’s correspondents criss-crossed the country from key cities such as Rabat, Marrakesh, Casablanca, Fez, as well as, the Atlas Mountains countryside to report on the voting and on the issues driving Moroccans to the polls.
Alhurra’s coverage featured a variety of interviews and extensive live programming, highlighting Morocco’s party system, parties’ priorities and constituencies, the balance of power between the legislature and the monarchy, the current challenges ahead of Moroccan voters, the presence of women and youth in elections, unemployment, and corruption—the major impetus for the 2011 protests. Alhurra also took a closer look at the rivalry between the two main parties, which embody two halves of a divided society, the Party of Justice and Development (PJD), which has led a coalition government since 2011, and the Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM), which is battling the rise of religious fundamentalism.
Starting on October 3, Alhurra’s political talk show “Free Hour” moved to Morocco for a series of special programs for six days surrounding the Moroccan parliamentary elections. Free Hour brought the candidates to viewers with a series of in-depth interviews with figures such as Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane of the Justice and Development Party; General Secretary of the Authenticity and Modernity Party, Ilyass El Omari; General Secretary of the Independence Party, Hamid Shabat; General Secretary of the Unified Socialist Party, Nabila Muneeb, General Secretary of the Moroccan Democratic Way Party, Mustafa Barahma; as well as, human rights activists, political leaders and academics.
Alhurra’s flagship program “Al Youm” discussed women candidates and their aspirations for political success in the coming parliament, the demands of people in rural areas, the debate over Islamic education in Morocco, the face-off between Islamists and liberals in elections, elevated youth unemployment, and Islamist extremism’s rising challenge in Morocco.
Alhurra’s “Eye on Democracy” also dedicated an episode to the election with Moroccan experts and analysts examining the calls for boycotting the elections and the protection of civil liberties in Morocco.
Radio Sawa’s coverage of the Moroccan elections ran from October 2 through October 8, keeping listeners abreast through news reports and interviews with analysts and candidates. Radio Sawa provided reports on the decrease of the electoral threshold for a party to gain parliamentary representation from six percent to three percent, women’s participation and the gender balance among the candidates, the role of the Special Commission for Accreditation of Election Observers to report violations, and the role of youth in the elections and the quota for their minimum representation in parliament. Radio Sawa’s Sawa Magazine examined the reasons some groups have called for boycotting the elections and the financial impact of elections on Moroccans and their country.
Online, Alhurra and Radio Sawa’s digital platforms highlighted the kingdom’s calibrated process of political change and public expectations amid worries about youth joblessness, high debt and Islamic extremism. Alhurra’s website published stories on the rivalry between Islamists and liberals, the outcome of which will define the political map of the North African country. The website also featured articles examining the achievements of Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane after leading the government for five years.
Radio Sawa’s Facebook page provided a second-screen experience with live discussions about the elections and voter turnout. It also engaged with online users in real-time Qs-and-As about the Moroccan elections answered by Radio Sawa’s journalists.
On Twitter, Alhurra’s Free Hour tweeted up-to-the-minute news and information about the elections, providing information about candidates and issues including the electoral success of parties, winning of parliamentary seats by women and youth, as well as an examination of possible irregularities in the elections.
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Contact Chams Eddin
Communications Specialist, Alhurra Television, Radio Sawa