Polling stations closed in Morocco's parliamentary elections Friday, an official said, as the governing Islamist party hopes to repeat a landmark win from five years ago.
Polling stations across the kingdom were opened at 8:00 am local time (0700 GMT) an Interior Ministry official, who declined to be quoted by name, told dpa.
The moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which has led a governing coalition since 2011, is facing its keenest competition from the more liberal Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), which is seen as close to the powerful monarchy.
The elections, for 395 seats in the House of Representatives, are the second to take place under a 2011 constitution that transferred some powers from King Mohammed VI to the parliament and prime minister in an attempt to defuse protests.
In the previous elections, in 2011, the PJD came first with 107 seats, while the conservative Istiqlal (Independence) Party took 60, the National Rally of Independents (RNI) 52 and PAM 47.
The Islamists were able to form their first government in Moroccan history, in coalition with Istiqlal (which later withdrew and was replaced by RNI) and two smaller parties.
However, local elections last year saw a struggle primarily between the Islamists and PAM, with the former gaining the most seats due to strong support in cities while the PAM did well in rural areas.
Ahead of the polls, Interior Minister Mohammed Hassad promised that authorities would be impartial and said that any evidence of electoral fraud or malpractice should be brought to the relevant judicial authorities.
About 15.7 million Moroccans, 45 per cent of them women, are eligible to vote, according to official figures.
Saturday, October 8, 2016 - 10:18