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Istiqlal offices in Casablanca

The Istiqlal or Independence Party (Arabic: حزب الإستقلال hizb al-istiqlāl, French: Parti de l'Istiqlal) is a political party in Morocco. It is a conservative monarchist party and a member of the Centrist Democrat International.

Originally founded in the 1940s, Istiqlal held strongly nationalist views and was the main political force struggling for the independence of Morocco. The party was often critical of the ruling monarchy, after being instrumental in liberating the country from French colonialism. Independence was achieved in 1956, and the party then moved into opposition against the monarchy, which had asserted itself as the country's main political actor. Together with the leftist UNFP, which split off from Istiqlal in 1959, and later the USFP, the Istiqlal would form the backbone of the opposition to King Hassan II in the years to come. The Istiqlal party has taken part in many coalition governments from the late 1970s until the mid-'80s. In 1998, together with the USFP inside the Koutla and other smaller parties, the Istiqlal formed the Alternance, the first political experience in the Arab World where the opposition assumed power through the ballots.

For the party's leader Allal El Fassi, a proponent of "Greater Morocco", Morocco's independence would not be complete without the liberation of all the territories that once were part of Morocco. Allal initiated this plan by sending a letter in 1951 to Ahmed Belbachir Haskouri, the right-hand man of the caliph of Spanish Morocco requesting urgent help to prevent Spanish Morocco from obtaining independence separately.

In the parliamentary election held on 27 September 2002, the party won 48 out of 325 seats.

In January 2006, Istiqlal criticized Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's visit to the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the north African coast, reflecting its nationalist heritage.

Istiqlal won 52 out of 325 seats in the parliamentary election held on 7 September 2007, more than any other party,[1] and subsequently the party's leader, Abbas El Fassi, was named Prime Minister by King Mohammed VI on 19 September 2007.[1][2]

References

  1. ^ a b "Morocco's king names new PM", Xinhua (People's Daily Online), September 20, 2007.
  2. ^ "El Fassi named Moroccan prime minister", Associated Press (Jerusalem Post), September 20, 2007.

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