By Mohamed Masbah
By Mohamed Masbah
Morocco World News
Rabat, April 19, 2012
Measures to rebuild trust in political work in parallel with economic and political challenges.
After a hundred days have passed since the Justice and Development party (PJD) led government has come to power, it seems that it is possible, without making any generalizations, to present an initial reading of the political scene in Morocco, and then to point out some indications of future changes in a country going through a transitional period within a changing and unstable regional and international context that doesn’t provide any guarantees.
There are two observations that could be highlighted after three months have passed since the appointment of the new government. The first observation has to do with the measures of trust building in political work, and the second has to do with the economic and the political challenges that the government faces in the short and long term.
Trust building measures:
Many researchers and analysts have considered the rise of PJD to power as a sign of political change. The rise of a political party with an Islamic background to power through the ballot box is an indication of political openness which is a translation of the popular will of a large class within society, especially since the results of the latest elections reflect that PJD’s influence and its ability to reach new regions and different social classes has grown considerably. The coming of PJD to power also embodies a desire for change while maintaining stability. This political change comes at period that has seen the retreat of state-sponsored political forces due to the Arab Spring and their poor performance in the latest elections.
The PJD’s transition from an opposition party to a ruling party has restored trust in politics, and represented a new phase of reconciliation between citizens and the ballot box. In fact, this has been reflected in the specialized opinion polls conducted by Actuel magazine and L’economiste newspaper. The opinion polls have shown that a sizable number of Moroccans trusts the new government. According to Actuel magazine’s opinion poll, 82% of Moroccans have a favorable opinion of the Moroccan government, while the percentage according to L’economiste is 88%. These results confirm the legitimacy that the PJD gained during the latest elections.
During the first three months after its appointment the government tried to translate many of its promises into reality by introducing a set of initiatives and measures that are social, economic and political in nature.
Exposing aspects of the rentier economy that are embedded in the structure of the economy. The most significant measures were taken by Benkirane’s government ministers, such as unveiling the identities of the figures who benefit from the rentier economy in the field of transportation as well as making public the details of the financial support that the government provides to newspapers and civil society organizations. In addition, there was a follow-up on the cases of suspects of public funds embezzlement.
The government has also shown a desire to rationalize public spending by adopting austerity measures, such as the return to the treasury of 2 million MAD (DH) from the unused funds that were given to PJD for election campaigning. Furthermore, some ministers of the new government have announced their salaries while others have given up some privileges normally given to ministers.
Political and security measures:
The release of political prisoners, namely the salafi detainees who were jailed for terrorism-related charges. Also the release of the detainees of Bouarfa.
The creation of a social solidarity fund with a 2 billion MAD contribution from the government to support poor families and provide healthcare coverage and services, as well to create another establishment for social solidarity for the benefit of 40 thousand female breadwinners. The government also raised the value of the stipends given to university students.
These measures have attracted wide media coverage, which resulted in large-scale publicity for the contents of the measures and engaged the public as well. The bulk of these measures attracted unprecedented attention if compared to the measures taken by previous governments.
Subjective and objective challenges:
We will be idealists if we evaluate the performance of Benkirane’s government during the past three months without identifying the aspects of insufficiency and the short and long term challenges which prevent the achievement of the planned objectives and hinders the democratization process in Morocco. In this context, economic, political and institutional challenges arise.
At the economic level, Morocco is going through a critical economic period. The Moroccan economy is affected by the repercussions of drought, especially in the field of agriculture this year. This accidental factor must not mask the structural crisis of the national economy. This crisis is manifested in poor economic competition and the relationship between power and money. This requires a readjustment of the Moroccan economy to pave the way for more economic liberalization of the market and open it for more competition. Consequently, new social groups will emerge and the middle class will expand, and thus stability becomes possible in the long term.
The other challenges have to do with political and institutional factors. In the short term, there is the task of continuing the harmony between the different parties that constitute the government and their ability to form a strong team capable of implementing the government’s program effectively. There is also the task of coordinating and managing the relationship with the king’s entourage. The mixed positions of some government members and the conduct of some circles affiliated with the royal palace in dealing with the government, and the positions of those circles that are passed through certain channels, might affect the government’s harmony and the trust between the government and the royal palace. In the long term, there are the tasks of building democratic traditions based on political pluralism, good governance, the peaceful transfer of power and the separation between wealth and power. These are the challenges that the current government must seek to overcome.
After three months have passed since the appointment of the current government, it seems that the guarantees for a democratic transition in Morocco have not fully ripened yet. Morocco is going through intense political travail. This requires researchers to invest enough time in order to objectively assess the possible ways that might lead to establishing democracy. However, there are other crucial factors that will determine the future of democracy in the country, such as the role of other players in the equation (e.g., civil society, the business elite, the growth of the democratic culture within society itself, and the Makhzen…). This is going to be the subject of another article.
Translated by Anouar M’zoudi
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