Backgrounder: Basic facts about Morocco
Backgrounder: Basic facts about Morocco's parliamentary elections
RABAT, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- Morocco will hold its parliamentary elections Friday after a constitutional referendum was launched on July 1 in which the king ceded part of his power to the government and parliament amid mounting calls for reforms in the kingdom.
The elections come less than five months after a July 1 referendum on a new constitution which was proposed by King Mohammed VI in an attempt to appease anti-government protests that toppled regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
The legislative elections were brought forward from September 2012, when the term of the current government expires.
A total of 7,102 candidates from 31 parties are competing for the 395 seats in the parliament, 70 more than in the previous elections in 2007.
The turnout of 2007 elections was disappointing, with only 37 percent of registered voters casting ballots, showing Moroccans' lack of interest in politics.
The main opposition Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD), G8, which includes eight parties grouping around the National Rally of Independents close to the royal family, and Ketela coalition comprising the ruling Istiqlal Party are the three front runners.
Radwan Mossa, one of the voters, said he could express his opinion by casting a ballot which may help the government solve problems.
"I want to change the status quo in a civilized way. Other Arab countries also have many social problems. I prefer the moderate reforms adopted by our country," Mossa said.
However, Mohammed Mosodi, a protester urging the government to tackle the high unemployment, said that "the government did not give solutions to creating jobs, neither would the parties who are competing for the parliamentary elections."
"So, I would not vote in the elections," he added.
As one of the opposition groups, the February 20 Movement insisted that the new constitution retain the king as head of the army, religious authorities and the judiciary, which did not meet the protesters' demand that the king should only be the symbol of the country.
The February 20 Movement, the radical Islamic group Justice and Charity, and other minor leftist parties called for boycotting the upcoming parliamentary elections.
On Feb. 20 this year, thousands of Moroccans took to street, demanding resignation of the prime minister, dissolution of the government and early legislative elections.
The protesters also urged to amend constitution to cut the king 's power and improve people's lives.
Facing protests in the region, King Mohammed VI announced on March 9 that he would amend the constitution and draft a new one to empower the government and parliament.
On July 1, Moroccans agreed through the constitutional referendum to empower the prime minister to dissolve the parliament and to dismiss and appoint senior officials, powers that were restricted to the king before the referendum.
On July 30, the king said reforms outlined by the referendum should be implemented through parliamentary elections and brought forward the elections to Nov. 25 this year from September 2012.