Morocco World News
Morocco World News
Ifran, Morocco, July 23, 2012
The 25 November 2011 Parliamentary Election: Future Scenarios
The last Parliamentary elections of November 25, 2011 were of special value since they took place at a very sensitive time in both domestic and international political developments. It came as a result of the overthrow of four long lasting political systems thanks to the Arab spring’s peaceful protests: Zayn EL Abidin Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Moubarek in Egypt, Ali Abdellah Salih in Yamen and Muammar Kaddafi in Libya‘s reign came to an end. Importantly enough, it came in the wake of adopting a new constitution for the Kingdom, the break out of 20th February movement protests all over the county and a financial crisis and demonstrations that crawled from the East and swept different regimes in its way.
Morocco has been taken by pro-democracy protests decrying lack of freedoms, unemployment, poverty and widespread corruption and thousands of problems that the new elected head of the government must deal with. King Mohammed VI sought to soothe tensions by ordering a constitutional reform – in his speach of 9 March – that gives parliament more power and moved up legislative elections by a year
The PJD performed remarkably well; it succeeded to sweep the last election, rising from 9 seats in 1997, 42 seats in 2002, 47 seats in 2007 to 107 seats in 2011. It came first achieving approximately 29 % of seats
Under a new constitution proposed by King Mohammed VI in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings that was approved in a July referendum, the monarch accordingly selected a prime minister from the winning party instead of naming, as in the past, whoever he pleased.
The new government will have to work with the king, who still retains broad powers and acts as an arbitrator, at a time when Morocco is facing significant challenges, such as high youth unemployment, increased social awareness, and a growing sensibility of protests. Additionally, public finances have worsened for the following reasons: the decrease of international investment by 24%, and the decrease of remittances from Moroccan immigrants abroad by 36%, subsequent years of drought, an unbearable rise of oil prices (over $100 USD per barrel), the awful rise of the Subsidy Fund’s (SOUNDOUK AL Makassa) expenditure to more than 20 million dirham a year, and many other hectic and decisive problems like the aggravation of foreign debts of unprecedented levels. On the other hand, the electoral campaign of the PJD promised to cut poverty in half, raise the minimum wage by 50%, create jobs for more than 200,000 unemployed persons, and finally to improve the annual rate of development to 7%
Being under the anvil and hammer of its promises to the Moroccan citizens and local and international demands, the PJD was elected to lead the government.
While it remains notoriously difficult and risky to predict a future decline of the Islamists based on reading either the flow of social and political events or the process of these movements starting from the seventies, for this thesis it would nonetheless seem likely that major changes are to occur in the near future, either within the major Islamist organizations (Al Adl and MUR/PJD) or in the Makhzen’s responses to them.
The most probable near term future scenario is a decline in the influence of the Islamists and their representation either in the Parliament or in the government as “they will not be allowed to gain considerable influence but will be kept ‘in place’ at their current level of support via electoral rules and continued support to the PAM,”  which means that the process adopted by the authorities for more than four decades to tame the Islamists finally will come to an end and succeed in its endeavor -as it did with USFP and the leftists.
That is, for both the Islamists and the leftists, the system used the same methods; the system via democracy’s game, attempted successfully to boost its political opponents’ reputation in the opposition before allowing them – in a challenging period – to lead the government, from where they automatically would be unable to fulfill their promises and lose Moroccan citizens’ trust for ever. Furthermore, the authorities push one of its hawks to found a political party that can curb either the Islamists or the left to gain more power, as has been the case of the party founded by Mohamed Ossman, a friend of Hassan II, who established the National Rally of Independence (RNI) and the party of the Constitutional Union (UC) after the Kutla parties dominated the Moroccan political sphere or the case of the party of The Authenticity and Modernity (PAM)
In practice this implies, from another perspective, that it seems most likely that the MUR/PJD will be allowed to continue on the formal political scene – in return for its continued support of the regime, the fundamental rules of the political game and to create a certain political balance in case it may be used in the future against an emerging political power.
That is, I tried to analyze the impact and the makhazen’ intervention in the process of taming the Islamists: the political gains, losses and future scenario as a result of the official authorities’ successful strategy. A strategy that can be divided into two phases: the first phase started in the seventies with Mouti’ and Chabiba Islamiyya/ Islamic youth and ended in 1996 when the movement of Reform and Renewal changed its name into movement of Unity and Reform in the wake of being encouraged to integrate in an already existent political party as we have seen in the previous chapter. The second phase, started with the Islamists’ acceptance to integrate into the party of Abdelkarim EL Khatib in the 1996 onwards, an ex- doctor of King Hassan II.
This chapter concludes that the limited electoral performance of the movement of Unity and Reform and its political wing PJD came mainly as a response to the state-level dynamics- the change of the election law and limitations put upon the political space of the PJD.
As argued throughout the chapter, Morocco started implementing a controlled strategy so as to domesticate the Islamists. The most important manifestation of this strategy was the political integration program launched by the state in the late 1990’s. The system’s strategy aimed at integrating the Islamists, promoting the Kingdom’s image internationally in regards to political participation, civil liberties and human rights practice. This 1990’s political opening presented on one hand an unprecedented opportunity for Islamists to officialize their political status, and on the other hand another occasion for the authorities to complete implementing their program about the Islamists as it did with the USFP – a program that started in the early seventies.
That is, the 1997 parliamentary election gave the freshly-built PJD the political wing of the movement of Unity and Reform the opportunity to take part into official political processes, which means, as we have seen in their electoral program, the non-recourse to Islamic ideologies as a political party. The PJD’s participation in the 1997 elections, albeit modest, proved to be promising and presented the party as a strong organized political structured force. Most importantly, the 1997 elections yielded alternative authorities and brought the opposition into government. In view of campaigning effectively for the 2002 elections, the Islamist party counted on its political freshness, ‘moderate’ pan-Islamic agenda and also capitalized on the Socialists’ failures as the alternative authorities to address socio-economic difficulties in Morocco. However, despite its broad popularity, the PJD did not achieve a parliamentary majority, compelling itself to operate as an opposition force. This outcome was mainly attributable to the King’s supremacy over electoral laws.
In fact, the amendments introduced by King Mohammed VI, such as the substitution of the “single-member electoral districts” law with “multi-member districts” ones in the electoral laws, and in general his constitutional prerogatives, led the party to adopt a self-restraint policy as a contract with the palace. The King sought to carefully manage the electoral process in ways that would preserve its supremacy while allowing room for Islamists to take part in the electoral process. The appointment of Driss Jettu as Prime Minister is another aspect of the King’s manipulative potential over electoral outcomes and a reminder of his absolute supremacy over domestic politics and decision-making. The subsequent elections of 2007 saw an important decline in the expectation that the PJD may perform better in subsequent elections, through garnering more seats in the parliament, which effectively happened in the last parliamentary elections of 25 November in the context of the overwhelming victory of the Islamic Movement in the elections of Tunisia and Egypt.
The system used the Islamists and their reputations in that very sensitive period so as to:
1 – To ride out the storm brought about by the Arab spring until the situations calm down
2 – To appear as a democratic system. Its historical hostility with the Islamists does not prevent it from handing over tp the Islamists “the reins of power.”
3 – To implicate the Islamists in the crisis that it is not theirs and cannot bear its responsibility, which will lead the Moroccan citizens, after the Islamists will fail to fulfill their promises, to say that: “The Makhzen gave power to the Islamists, but they were not up to the level of responsibility, so that people despair of any good to be expected from them.”
4-To declare the end of the cold war against the Islamists through a process that started the day that the Islamists were found to curb the influence of the left wing and will last until the end of their existence as the head of the current government, as happened with the USFP.
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 Julie E.Pruzan-Jergensen 2011 “ The islamist Movement in Morocco: Main Actor and Regime Responses “Report for Danish Institute For International Studies, P24 available at http://diis.dk/graphics/Publications/Reports2010/RP201005_Islamist_movement_Morocco_web.pdf
 Watch the broadcasted interview of Fouad Ali Alhimma with Abdessamad Bencherif on 2M