What explains the victory of the governing Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) in Morocco, especially in light of the unexceptional performance of Islamists in the region’s other recent elections? asks Marwa Shalaby , the director of the Women’s Rights in the Middle East Program at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. A new research paper, analyzing the legislative behavior of political parties in Morocco’s 2011 to 2016 Parliament, found that, put simply, the PJD prioritized the concerns of the broader Moroccan public rather than issues important to its Islamist base, she writes for The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage:
Previous work on electoral politics in competitive authoritarian regimes argues that given the amount of clientelistic politics, existing political institutions (i.e., parties in parliaments) tend to distribute benefits to their support base, rather than to the general public. Generally, once in power, the political elites and parties will pay more attention to the priorities of the party’s supporters to be reelected.
The PJD was different. Contrary to these expectations, it proved to be more responsive to the general public than to the party’s supporters, particularly when it comes to legislative questions. In fact, our data shows that the PJD was two times more responsive to the priorities of the general public compared with its own supporters. The PJD’s high level of responsiveness to the priorities of the general public may partially explain why they won reelection.