Istiqlal Party
حزب الاستقلال
Parti de l'Istiqlal
General SecretaryNizar Baraka
FounderAhmed Balafrej
FoundedApril 1937; 85 years ago (1937-04)[1]
Headquarters4, rue Ibn Toumert, Rabat
NewspaperAl-Alam (Arab)
L'Opinion (French)
Political positionCentre-right
Regional affiliationDemocrat Union of Africa
European affiliationEuropean People’s Party (regional partner)
International affiliationInternational Democrat Union
Centrist Democrat International
House of Representatives
81 / 395
House of Councillors
24 / 120

The Istiqlal or Independence Party (Arabic: حزب الإستقلال Ḥizb Al-Istiqlāl, French: Parti de l'Istiqlal) is a political party in Morocco. It is a conservative and monarchist party and a member of the Centrist Democrat International and International Democrat Union. Istiqlal headed a coalition government under Abbas El Fassi from 19 September 2007 to 29 November 2011. From 2013 to 2021, it was part of the opposition. Since 2021 it is part of a coalition government led by Aziz Akhannouch.

The party emerged in the anti-colonial struggle against French and Spanish imperial rule.[5][6][7]

History and profile

Ahmed Balafrej, founder of the Istiqlal Party in 1950
Ahmed Balafrej, founder of the Istiqlal Party in 1950

The party was founded in April 1937[1] as the National Party for Istiqlal, and became the Istiqlal Party 10 December 1943.[8][9] 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 gaining independence 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.

There was a movement within the Istiqlal Party to unite Muslims and Jews called al-Wifaq (الوفاق), with prominent Jewish figures such as Armand Asoulin, David Azoulay, Marc Sabbagh, Joe O’Hana, and Albert Aflalo.[10]

Together with the leftist National Union of Popular Forces (UNFP), which split from Istiqlal in 1959, and later the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (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-1980s. 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.

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,[11] and subsequently the party's leader, Abbas El Fassi, was named Prime Minister by King Mohammed VI on 19 September 2007.[11][12]

The party won 60 out of 325 seats in the parliamentary election held in November 2011, being the second party in the parliament.[13]

Istiqlal office of the Al-Fida Derb-Soltane district, Casablanca
Istiqlal office of the Al-Fida Derb-Soltane district, Casablanca

Abbas El Fassi resigned as Prime Minister 29 November 2011, and resigned as Secretary-General of Istiqlal on 23 September 2012, following Justice and Development Party victory in 2011 elections.

In September 2012, Hamid Chabat was elected secretary-general of the party succeeding Abbas El Fassi.

In 2016, Istiqlal won 46 seats in parliamentary elections, a loss of 14 seats. The party joined the opposition.

Istiqlal is a member of the Centrist Democrat International and International Democrat Union, and an associate member of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists.

On October 7, 2017, Nizar Baraka was elected Secretary-General of the Istiqlal party, by 924 votes against 230 votes for his rival and outgoing secretary-general Hamid Chabat.

Electoral performance

House of Representatives

Election Votes % Seats Status
1963 1,000,506 30.0
41 / 144
1970 Boycotted
8 / 240
1977 1,090,960 21.62
51 / 264
1984 681,083 15.33
40 / 301
1993 760,082 12.2
52 / 333
1997 840,315 13.8
32 / 325
Part of the government
2002 14.77
48 / 325
Part of the government
2007 494,256 10.7
52 / 325
Leading the government under Abbas El Fassi
2011 562,720 11.9
60 / 395
Part of the government until October 2013
2016 620,041 10.68
46 / 395
81 / 395
Part of the government


  1. ^ a b Ring, Trudy; Watson, Noelle; Schellinger, Paul (2014). Middle East and Africa: International Dictionary of Historic Places. Routledge. p. 607. ISBN 9781134259861.
  2. ^ Alami, Aida; Casey, Nicholas (9 September 2021). "Islamists See Big Losses in Moroccan Parliamentary Elections". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Daadaoui, Mohamed (May 2010). "Party Politics and Elections in Morocco" (PDF). Policy Brief. Middle East Institute (29). Retrieved 29 September 2021.
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  7. ^ Joffé, E. G. H. (1985). "The Moroccan Nationalist Movement: Istiqlal, the Sultan, and the Country*". The Journal of African History. 26 (4): 289–307. doi:10.1017/S0021853700028759. ISSN 1469-5138. S2CID 154810750.
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  9. ^ "Moroccan Political Parties". Riad Reviews. Archived from the original on 4 September 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  10. ^ Boum, Aomar (16 October 2013). Memories of Absence : How Muslims Remember Jews in Morocco. ISBN 978-0-8047-8851-9. OCLC 1198929626.
  11. ^ a b "Morocco's king names new PM", Xinhua, 20 September 2007.
  12. ^ "El Fassi named Moroccan prime minister"[permanent dead link], Associated Press (Jerusalem Post), 20 September 2007.
  13. ^ "Morocco". European Forum. Archived from the original on 10 September 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014.