SITTING PRETTY: Will Morocco’s Elections Reduce The King's Powers?


SITTING PRETTY: Will Morocco’s Elections Reduce The King's Powers?
by Darius Kadivar

Moroccan select a new lower house of parliament on November 25th, in the first national vote since the approval of constitutional reforms billed as laying thefoundations for a fully-fledged constitutional monarchy. About 13.6 million Moroccans have registered to vote. About 4,000 observers from 16 Moroccan and foreign bodies have been accredited by the electoral authorities.

King Mohammed VI presented the changes as a far-reaching concession to Arab Spring-style pro-democracy protests, but activists believe they will do little to change the actual power structure and have called for a boycott of the elections.




(ALJAZEERA – June 19th, 2011)



Morocco's King Mohammed VI promises changes as part of a "historic transition" into democracy but are people buying it ?


NOV 25TH :






Q&A: Morocco elects new parliament (bbc)

Moroccans elect a new lower house of parliament on 25 November, in the first national vote since the approval of constitutional reforms billed aslaying the foundations for a fully-fledged constitutional monarchy.

King Mohammed VI presented the changes as a far-reaching concession to Arab Spring-style pro-democracy protests, but activists believe they will do little to change the actual power structure and have called for a boycott of the elections.

Moderate Islamists are hoping to do well in the vote after a similar success in Tunisia's first democratic election a month ago.

How significant are the elections?

As a result ofthe constitutional changes approved by 98% of those voting in a 1 July referendum, the new parliament will have a greater share of power and - in theory - will play the leading role in a legislative process previously dominated by the king. The position of the prime minister, who must now be appointed from the largest party in parliament, has also been enhanced, gaining the authority to appoint government officials and dissolve parliament. The reforms were supported by all the main political parties, which called on their supporters to back the proposals in the referendum.

Morocco :Youth Elections Al Arabiya (Nov 4th, 2011)

The Moroccan Parliament opened its doors for the first time in its history to 30 young Moroccans who hope to shape their country's destiny by participating in the legislative process after the next elections.

Morocco Leads Muslim World in Women's Rights (The VJ Movement TV, April 18th,2011) :
A look at the changing nature of woman's rights in Morrocco. Especially highlighted is female participation in politics and electoral processes, and the effect of the 'moudawana' on women in Moroccan society.

What do the critics say?

The 20 February movement, which spearheaded Morocco's pro-democracy protests earlier this year, has called for a boycott of the elections, dismissing them as a "piece of theatre".

It says the constitutional changes approved in July are superficial, and perpetuate a "facade of democracy" that - it says - has disguised continuing royal rule for decades.

Critics of the reforms point in particular to the fact that the king will still have wide-ranging executive powers, in particular control over foreign, defence and security policy.

Activists also say the reforms will not end the behind-the-scenes dominance of the "makhzen" - a power apparatus of veteran politicians, powerful business people, the security forces and royal officials controlled by the king through a system of patronage.

What are Moroccans voting for?

The vote is for the lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Representatives, which is elected for a five-year term.

The upper house, the Chamber of Counsellors, which is elected indirectly by local councils, professional organizations and trade unions for nine-year terms, is not involved in this election.

How does the system work?

Of the Chamber of Representatives' 395 members, 305 are elected in 92 multi-seat constituencies from electoral lists put together by the parties. Under the "closed-list" system, voters can only chose between the party lists, and cannot modify the order of candidates on them.

Of the remaining 90 seats, 60 are reserved for a national list of women. A further 30 seats are newly earmarked for candidates under the age of 35, in a move widely seen as a concession to the largely youthful pro-democracy activists.

About 13.6 million Moroccans have registered to vote.

What is the voters' mood?

In contrast to the excitement on display in Tunisia's first post-dictatorship elections in October, there are fears of a low turnout, which could be seen as potentially undermining the credibility of the king's reforms.

At the last elections in 2007, only 37% of the electorate bothered to vote, amid a widespread sense of disillusionment with Morocco's established politicians.

What are the main political groups?

Istiqlal (Independence) Party

Founded in the1940s as the main opposition to French rule over Morocco, the centre-right Istiqlal is one of the country's oldest parties.

It has been a member of numerous government coalitions in the past few decades, having softened its traditionally critical stance towards the monarchy.

Its leader, Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi, has headed a five-party coalition government since the party become the largest in parliament at the last elections with 52 seats.

Justice and Development Party (PJD)

The PJD is Morocco's largest moderate Islamist force, and won 46 seats to become the second largest party in parliament at the last elections.

Modelling itself on Turkey's Islamist-derived governing party of the same name, the PJD is widely tipped to make further gains this time around, following the victory ofthe similar Ennahda party in Tunisia's elections. PJD leader Abdelillah Benkirane has said his party is "ready for the responsibility of government".

Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP)

Traditionally seen as Morocco's main centre-left force, the USFP is currently a member of the government. Formed in the 1970s, it is, along with the rest of Morocco's left, widely seen as a fading force.

The party won 38 seats in the last elections, down from 50 five years before. Its leader is veteran politician Abdelouahed Radi. In the run-up to the 25 November poll ithas cooperated closely with two smaller centre-left parties - including anothermember of the governing coalition, the Party for Progress and Socialism (PSS - 17 seats) - in a bid to revive the left's fortunes.

Alliance for Democracy

The Alliance for Democracy, a loose eight-party pro-monarchy electoral bloc, was formed on 5 October in a move widely seen as aimed at countering the predicted rise of the PJD.

It includes two of the current five governing parties - the centre-right liberal Popular Movement, which won 41 seatsin the last parliamentary polls, and the royalist National Rally of Independents, which won 39.

Party of Authenticity and Modernity

, which was founded in 2008 - a year after the last elections - by one of the king's right-hand men, Fouad Alial-Himma. It subsequently won 19% in local elections, prompting speculation that it might become a significant new force in Moroccan politics.

Media observers believe the bloc is an attempt to form a "party of the king" capable of becoming the largest party in parliament, which would allow the monarch to pick one of its members as prime minister. The bloc itself says its aim is to prevent the "Balkanisation" of Morocco's already fractious political landscape.

Will the elections be monitored?

About 4,000 observers from 16 Moroccan and foreign bodies have been accredited by the electoral authorities.

Related Blogs :

Morocco vote to curb king's powers, abolishing death penalty

Can Sarkozy's 'Mediterranean Union' Boost Middle East & North African Democracies?

Other Related Blogs:

Morocco's King Mohammed VI allowing Female Imams to takecharge

King Mohammed VI declares Morocco a constitutional monarchy

Abbas Milani Guest of Morocco’s Prince Moulay Hicham

Morocco's King Mohammed VI pledges constitutional reform

ROYALFORUM: Morocco's Steady Path Towards Democracy


more from Darius Kadivar
Darius Kadivar

CNN's 'Inside the Middle East' travels to Morocco

by Darius Kadivar on

Inside the Middle East' travels to Morocco (cnn)


'Inside the Middle East' wrapped shooting in Morocco this week, and the team is now preparing the program's 104th episode, which airs on October 3rd.

Check with our colleagues at the CNN Press Room for more information and the air dates and times.

Here's a brief synopsis of the upcoming show:

In October, 'Inside the Middle East' travels to Morocco, the North African kingdom located on the western edge of the Arab world.

In a nation where nearly half of those between the ages of 15 and 29 are either unemployed or out of school, frustration at the lack of opportunities is mounting. Some young Moroccans took to the streets over the past year to protest these realities while others took to the recording studio to speak out – both of which come with risk. One Moroccan rapper, El Haqed, was imprisoned earlier this year because of his lyrics. Show host Leone Lakhani meets several young rappers – from Casablanca to Tangiers – to hear some of the sounds of Morocco’s urban rage.

'Inside the Middle East' also journeys to the southern stretches of Morocco's Atlantic coastline, to the traditional Berber city of Agadir. Berbers were the first inhabitants of North Africa, and many still follow older customs and practice ancestral crafts. One of these – a beauty oil made from Argan tree seeds – is quickly becoming all the rage among celebrities and high-end shoppers in the West. Lakhani meets one Moroccan who is helping to produce the oil – and jobs for women in the country.

And what trip to Morocco would be complete without tasting the nation's world-famous cuisine? The team heads north to Fes, Morocco's culinary capital, to receive cooking lessons from Lahcen Beqqi, a top chef who has figured out how to blend traditional cooking with modern techniques.




Darius Kadivar

Islamist named as new Morocco PM

by Darius Kadivar on

Islamist named as new Morocco PM (bbc)


King Mohammed VI of Morocco appoints moderate Islamist leader Abdelilah Benkirane prime minister, following his party's election victory. 

Darius Kadivar

Video Report:'Hopes of genuine change' as Morocco holds election

by Darius Kadivar on

'High hopes of change'Watch (BBC)    

Morocco's moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) has won parliamentary elections, officials have said

According to provisional results, the PJD won 80 seats in the 395-seat assembly, Interior Minister Taib Cherkaoui told a news conference.

That would make it the largest party and give it the right to lead a government but it is still likely to need to form a coalition, as the BBC's Richard Hamilton explained.

He said that though the king still held a lot of power in Morocco, people in the country were optimistic of "genuine change".

Under a new constitution adopted in July, King Mohamed VI must now appoint the prime minister from the party which wins the most seats, rather than naming whomever he pleases. The BBC's Richard Hamilton says there high hopes for "genuine change" in Morocco. 

Red Wine


by Red Wine on

داریوش جان،همانجور که میبینی‌،اسلام گرایان در مغرب به پیروزی رسیدند،تمامِ شهر‌هایِ بزرگ اینجور که میبینم به اینها ری داده اند،هر چند که درصدِ رأی‌گیری چندان زیاد نبوده است چون اعتمادی در این ساختارِ سیاسی وجود ندارد،ملک محمد،پادشاه مغرب باید با اینها کنار بیاید و تصور نمیکنم که تغییری خاص در زمینه قانون اساسی‌ِ مغرب ایجاد شود،امکان دارد اختیاراتِ پادشاه در موردِ تصمیماتی که مربوط به احزاب و فعالیتِ آنها است اندکی‌ کم شود،اما بیش از این خیر !

آخر هفته خوبی‌ داشته باشی‌ کاکو .

Darius Kadivar

Morocco's Moderate Islamists ahead in poll

by Darius Kadivar on

Morocco Islamists ahead in poll (bbc)


Morocco's moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) is on course for a strong showing in parliamentary elections, early results suggest. 

Darius Kadivar

Moroccans prepare to head to poll

by Darius Kadivar on

Moroccans prepare to head to poll (bbc)


Moroccans are getting ready to cast their votes in a parliamentary poll, elections brought forward in response to the uprisings in neighbouring states. 

It is expected to be a close contest between a moderate Islamist opposition party and a new coalition of liberals with close ties to the royal palace. 

Both parliament and the prime minister will have greater powers under the new constitution. 

The prime minister must now be appointed by the king from the party which wins the most seats in the assembly.

However, the king still has the final say on issues of defence, security and religion. 

Darius Kadivar

FYI/ Why has Morocco’s king survived the Arab Spring?

by Darius Kadivar on

Spring Survivor By Aidan Lewis  (bbc)


Morocco's new constitution

  • King selects prime minister from biggest party
  • Amazigh (Berber) becomes second official language after Arabic
  • King is no longer "sacred", but he is "inviolable"
  • International human rights conventions take primacy over national law


Morocco's ruling elite thinks it has skilfully sidestepped the revolutionary fervour sweeping the Arab world by offering a milder, more peaceful vision of change.

Following Friday's elections, King Mohamed VI is for the first time obliged to choose the prime minister from the largest party, rather than naming whoever he pleases.

However, many of the protesters who took to the streets in February feel the reforms still fall far short of their demands for a democratic, constitutional monarchy, and have called for a boycott.

A low turnout in the parliamentary poll would detract from the legitimacy of King Mohamed VI's reforms and could hint at future problems. Ahead of the poll, the sleepy calm of the capital, Rabat, was occasionally punctuated by the marches of unemployed graduates.

But the country's powerful monarchy and the system that supports it appear to have averted any direct, mortal challenge for now.



by oktaby on

Good clips DK. Moroccan stability has legs for many reasons. Not the least of which is lack of oil or other precious resources. Of Arab spring the only one getting the benefit of Nato was the only country that had Oil. Libya was nothing but a manufactured play coupled with usual dose of incompetence. The alghaeda element started with Madrasas that were promoted by U.S. in early 60 as part of regional approach to anti-communism, later becoming The Green Belt that devoured Iran. Moroccans have learned how to deal with it thanks to Hassan II. The islamist devolution in Iran and then islamist problems of Algeria over the past decade helped ensure Moroccans won't follow path of violence. Uneven distribution of wealth there parallels the trend globally so it is not a bigger factor than anywhere else and generally speaking their economy has grown and more people have prospered in relative terms.

Changing Monarchy faster than their culture can absorb it, will result in Iran or Algeria like fiascos. Most of the people demonstrating for democracy have a limited or biased view of what it means when they get the power. Monarchy or not.


Darius Kadivar

Red Wine jan what you say regarding Polisario & Al Qaeda is true

by Darius Kadivar on

But I think no one is naive to think the challenges and the stakes are not high.

That is one of the reasons why the Situation in Libya is far from solved. Disarming the rebels but more importantly making sure these sophisticated arms and ammunition don't fall in the wrong hands or smuggled into Nigeria or other neighboring countries is a constant pre occupation.

That said I am not as worried about Morocco as I am about other countries in the region. The Moroccans may feel frustrated and they may face many obstacles on their way but they are also aware of the volatility of all these newly acquired ( or even "imposed" ) freedoms. 

But If they manage to pull it through and combine their reforms with economic development and a particular insistence on education but also allowing more participation in the political decisions they may be able to satisfy many of the countries democratic aspirations.

But the fate of Morocco's long term political stability will largely depend on how things evolve in the region and particularly in Libya and maybe tomorrow in Algeria ( untouched by the Arab Spring to date).

So yes all this is easier said than done.

But as you can see even having a democracy like in France or Spain or other European Nations is not a guarantee of economic prosperity.

Europe is deeply focused on it's own challenges and that is why their leaders need to keep an eye open on what is taking place on the otherside of the Mediterranean.

Again it's in our mutual interests.


Only time will say if it will work. it is far too early to judge on any of these events at this stage. If only we could accelerate history and see how the situation looks like in 10 years time.

Unfortunately history moves far more slowly than what politicians wish to suggest.

Nevertheless I am still optimistic for North Africa ... Far less for our poor Middle East.


Red Wine


by Red Wine on

داریوش جان،جریان آنقدر پیچیده هست که جایِ هیچ گونه راه حالی‌ نیست.ملک محمد ششم از لحاظِ مردم جایگاهِ خوبی‌ دارد، مغربیها او را دوست دارند (حتی جوانان) اما جریانِ سیاسی که در این چند ماه در شمالِ آفریقا رخ داد،باعث شد که مغربیها نیز تا اندازه یی خواهانِ حق و حقوقِ بیشتری شوند.

اما این داستانم فقط بدین نحو تمام نمی‌‌شود،جریاناتِ مسائلِ القاعده به شدت مغرب را تهدید می‌کند،دائماً اینها با صحرا و جبهه‌ پولیساریو در جنگ و گریز هستند و اهمیتِ این قسمت از صحرا باعث شده است که تنها اسپانیا و فرانسه دخالت کنند.

شاهزاده فلیپ میانجی گری بینِ مغرب و اروپایِ مشترک را قبول کرده است،چند ماهِ پیش به صورتِ سربسته چند بار به مغرب و به بلژیک سفر کرد تا هر دو را بر سرِ یک توافقِ درست،متحد کند.

مثلِ سلطنتِ اسپانیا هیچگاه در مغرب (و هیچ کشوری دیگر!) ایجاد نخواهد شد اما ملک محمد میل دارد که بسیاری از مشکلات را حل کند،چندین زندانیِ سیاسی را آزاد کرده است،مسائلِ مالیاتیِ افرادِ فقیر را حل و فصل کرده است و دیگر نکاتِ خوبِ دیگر ...


Darius Kadivar

Red Wine Jan I hear you ...

by Darius Kadivar on

Thanks for your knowledgeable insights Red Wine Jan.

I agree with all of your observations but what gives me hope for not just morocco but North Africa in contrast to the Middle East is precisely the Mutual interdependence the European Continent has with it's North African neighbours.

This is why Sarkozy has been initiating the Union for the Mediterranean which started off a year Prior to the Arab Spring but which at the time was merely seen as a French "Gadget" by many participants:


Can Sarkozy's 'Mediterranean Union' Boost Middle East & North African Democracies? 


But today one can see the benefits of such a cooperation between Europe and North Africa which will benefit both continents on the long term.

This won't be achieved without it's ups and downs. The democratic transitions in North Africa are still in their early stages and the road is still quite Bumpy but it is precisely the "Interdependence" between North and South which will be mutually beneficial on the long term.

One of the major geo strategic shifts of the 21st Century in relation to Europe and the Rest of the World will be defined in my humble opinion by a an economic concentration of developing programs surrounding the Mediterranean. 

Europe doesn't want nor has the capacity of accepting foreign labor anymore due to all the problems it creates in their societies. On the otherhand all these North African countries cannot blame the "Bad Bad" Europeans for harboring Colonialist ambitions anymore. They have to accept responsibility for their own shortcomings and take the necessary actions if they wish to be seen as Reliable partners and treated as Equals ( which they are absolutely entitled to).


I know Spain and Morocco also have differences which they need to overcome with time. But Europe's economic survival may well depend on this new partnership on the long term all the more that we are being squeezed by economic competition from China and Russia.


ROYAL FORUM: China signs $7.5b deals with Juan Carlos' Spain


All the more that our traditional partner and Ally America is focusing it's own priorities on developing ties with the Pacific Nations and turning it's back on Us Europeans in favor of other continents like Australia:


BBC News - Obama visit: Australia agrees US Marine deployment plan 


And South America:


Obama's South America Trip to Focus on Economics and Trade 


So we might as well try and help the North African nations and Morocco in a constructive way so that this "transition" however "bumpy" and "imperfect" will be successful on the long run.


That will not merely depend on the King or other future leaders it will also depend on the people's wisdom and particularly the political elite in guaranteeing that the transition will be peaceful and constructive even if not perfect on the short term.

My humble Opinion,


Red Wine


by Red Wine on

داریوش جان،خوشحالیم دوباره تو را میبینیم :) .

این تنها مشکلِ ملک محمد ششم نیست،از چند ماهِ پیش،اروپایِ مشترک شدیداً اخطار به سزمینِ مغرب داده که تمامِ ابعادِ دموکراسی را در مملکت باید پیاده کند،چه سیاسی ،اجتماعی و چه اقتصادی،مغرب احتیاج به ساخت و سازِ تشکیلاتِ مدرنی‌ دارد که از هر نظر زندگی‌ِ مغربیان را از این حال نجات داده و تغییر دهد،ملک محمد مجبور است بای یک سری تغییراتِ حکومتی بسازد و هیچ نگوید،البته در ابتدا بدین نحو خواهد بود و در ادامه شاهِ مغرب میبایستی فعالیتِ احزاب را بهبود بخشد و مجلس قدرتِ بیشتری بدینها دهد.این کشور احتیاج به کمکهایِ اروپایِ مشترک دارد و از همه مهمتر صنعتِ توریسم.