The PJD’s second term as head of government was marked by a series of major concessions that fractured the party and caused mistrust of the electoral base. We take a look back at five key events where the PJD was forced to swallow snakes.
The head of government was not mistaken on various occasions when he had to justify certain decisions taken by the government to his own. In the envy, Saâd-Eddine El Othmani defended the need to “put the interests of the country first, before those of the party”.
It is because the Islamists’ second term as head of government has seen various issues put on the table that contradict the party’s very ideology. Normalization with Israel, alternating languages in education, use of cannabis for therapeutic and industrial purposes … The head of government has often found himself caught in the crossfire and a fracturing partisan entity.
“Being head of government and leader of a big party and having your own positions is not easy”
The fault of an ideological reference that the Islamist formation, in power since the end of 2011, is ordered to sacrifice on the altar of the supreme interest of the nation (the case of normalization with Israel), or the economic reality of the country ( the case of legal cannabis use).
“Being head of government and leader of a big party and having your own positions is not easy. In life, we face difficulties ”, justified, in an interview with TelQuel, Saâd-Eddine El Othmani.
Strong entry into the matter for the second term of the “brothers”. In the wake of the legislative elections of October 2016, the Islamist party experienced all the difficulties in forming a coalition capable of securing a majority in Parliament. Then secretary general of the party, Abdelilah Benkirane had been renewed by Mohammed VI to form a new government.
Begins a standoff and arduous negotiations with the leader of the National Rally of Independents (RNI), Aziz Akhannouch. The latter, supported by his harakist ally Mohand Laenser, had notably demanded the withdrawal of Istiqlal from the race for ministerial morocco in the aftermath of the controversial statements of the secretary general of the Libra party, Hamid Chabat, on Mauritania. A godsend for the RNI-MP tandem who did not expect so much to oust Istiqlal from the future majority. Especially since Aziz Akhannouch had pushed for the integration of the USFP into the coalition.
After six months of stalemate between the two men, Mohammed VI finally removed Benkirane from his post and appointed PJD number two, Saâd-Eddine El Othmani, to replace him. His arrival after this long political sequence left traces within the Lamp party and revived tensions.
Throughout 2019 and until the summer before the start of the school year, the framework bill on education was at the heart of many tensions within the majority. Largely inspired by the work of the Higher Education Council (CSE), the project established in its articles 2 and 31 “the adoption of linguistic alternation”, introducing the teaching of scientific subjects in French.
The article met with strong opposition from the PJD, as well as from Istiqlal, on ideological grounds. The latter protested against the use of the language of the “colonist”, as Abdelilah Benkirane had mentioned during one of his speeches, calling on his “brothers” to vote against. He even said at the time of the adoption of the framework bill – “a catastrophe” – that this vote was the “first serious mistake” made by the PJD since taking office as head of government in 2011.
Placed between a rock and a hard place, Saâd-Eddine El Othmani had proposed to cut the pear in two: that the elected members of the PJD vote for the framework bill as a whole, by abstaining from voting on articles 2 and 31. Approved with 241 votes in favor and four against, only two PJD deputies and 16 brothers abstained.
Within the party, the adoption of the text will leave traces, to the point of pushing Driss El Azami Idrissi to leave the head of the PJD parliamentary group, thus creating new lines of split within the party.
It is certainly the most difficult “snake” to digest in the last Islamist term. And it holds in a moment which made date, on December 22, 2020, with the signing before the king, by the head of government, of the joint declaration between the kingdom, the United States and Israel, under the barely disguised smile by Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita.
A few months earlier, in August, at the PJD’s National Youth Forum, Saâd-Eddine El Othmani had declared “to refuse any normalization with the Zionist entity”. After the announcement of normalization with the Hebrew state tweeted by the US president, it took several days for the head of government to come out of his silence.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, he ended up declaring that “States are, at times, forced to make difficult decisions”, otherwise the re-establishment of ties with Israel “would not have taken so long”.
On the partisan side, the decision does not pass. At the end of the National Lamp Party Council, the PJD’s decision-making body issues a statement in which members reiterate their absolute “condemnation” and “rejection” of the deal, holding El Othmani “responsible”.
It is certain that the PJD did not vote in favor of the passage of Bill 13.21 relating to the therapeutic and industrial use of cannabis. The only party to have resolutely opposed the adoption of the bill, the PJD has once again played the blocking card, considering that the subject is far too important to go through a simple legislative procedure, especially in the middle of an election year.
The text finally voted will accentuate the dissensions within the formation. Drop of water too much, the president of the National Council, Driss Azami El Idrissi, resigned at the end of February from the party authorities, before having his departure refused.
The PJD has approached the electoral season in a political context which is hostile to it. In addition to the law on the legalization of cannabis, which he equates to an attack on its ideological foundations, the ruling party sees its domination at the polls directly threatened by the reform of the electoral quota.
Deeming the reform unconstitutional, the PJD considered that the new electoral quotient constituted a “political turnaround including a desire to cap electoral results by distributing seats in the House of Representatives equally among all political parties”.
The formation fears an electoral setback. 104 deputies of the Lamp Party (PJD) voted against this provision and rejected the organic bill in the House of Representatives.