Political parties in Morocco entered the final stage of election campaigning this week. Polling day?
TOP GV Large crowd listening to speakers at USFP rally, Casablanca, Morocco
LV Candidate speaking to crowd
SV PAN FROM election posters TO large crowd listening (2 shots)
GV Crowds gather waving yellow flags and clapping at the end of speech (3 shots)
TOP VIEW Crowds chanting and throwing paper streamers into the air
SV Istiqlal supporters waving blue flags, chanting and marching into square and waving to candidates on balcony (4 shots)
LV Crowd carrying candidates and chanting (3 shots)
GV Supporters waving blue flags and chanting (3 shots)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Political parties in Morocco entered the final stage of election campaigning this week. Polling day in the general election is on Friday (3 June) and there are seven parties bidding for votes. Two main opposition groups -- the Istiqlal party and the Union Socialists Des Forces Populaires, or USFP -- held big rallies in Casablanca over the weekend.
The general election is expected to strengthen the position of King Hassan as a Third World ruler prepared to encourage parliamentary democracy based upon a multi-party system. King Hassan has ruled by decree since 1970. Both the Istiqlal and the USFP call for radical changes. They say the Independents were created by the administration to perpetuate a system which exploits the masses for the benefit of a few. While also stressing Moslem and Arab values, the Istiqlal calls for social and economic egalitarianism, more power of decision for parliament and local government and a vigorous campaign against corruption and the abuse of power. The USFP is much more radical. It demands the introduction of sweeping Socialist policies to eradicate unemployment, illiteracy, crime and shanty towns in which it says two million people live, plus industrialisation and agrarian reform.
SYNOPSIS: The left-wing USFP meeting attracted hundreds of supporters. Both the USFP and the Istiqlal party have waged vigorous campaigns.
The elections are the first to be held in Morocco since 1970. The elections then were boycotted by the main parties because they were rigged, they said. The parties agreed to participate this time when the Moroccan ruler King Hassan guaranteed a fair and honest poll. The yellow flags of the USFP are part of a special colour scheme so that voters can easily identify the parties. The reason for the scheme is that about three quarters of the six and a half million voters are illiterates.
Istiqlal supporters wore their colour as well as waving it at their rally. The campaign was a peaceful one until recently when a member of the Istiqlal youth wing was killed and seven others injured in a clash alleged to have involved USFP members.
The party's newspaper said that the clash was with "groups of fascists pretending to be socialists." It was the first serious incident in two weeks of intensive campaigning, and there have been no reports of further trouble. Feelings ran high at this rally, but they were enthusiastic ones.
None of the parties are considered to have any chance of winning an overall majority in the Chamber of Representatives at Friday's poll. The winners are expected to be the Independents, the vast majority of whom are loyalists or supporters of the government.