By Jamal Boubakri
By Jamal Boubakri
Morocco World News
Washington D.C., December 30, 2012
Morocco World News nominated Mr. Abelilah Benkirane as person of the year for 2012. His powerful position as “Head of government” has put him in the spotlight since last year’s elections.
As a result of the Arab Spring movement, Morocco accelerated its pace of reforms, resulting in the adoption of a new constitution and the holding of early elections. Under the new constitution, the Prime Minister must come from the party that won the most votes in the election. Also, it gives more power to the Prime Minister, making him “Head of Government.”
The opposition, along with pro-democracy demonstrations that took place in the kingdom early 2011 pressured the prime minister to take the initiative of making some changes and pushing for more reforms.
Mr. Benkirane, head of PJD, leads its more conciliatory pro-monarchy faction and has repeatedly stated his support for a strong king. He’s always defended the Moroccan monarchy on national and international media outlets.
Just four months after his election as head of the government, Mr. Benkirane showed strong determination to reform the compensation fund that puts a burden on the budget. He ordered a slight increase in gas prices in order to make available funds to tackle other issues such as high unemployment, reforming education and health care, and supporting those who don’t have a source of income. He argued that the compensation fund is benefiting big corporations rather than helping the middle class. His decision faced fierce criticism from economic lobbyists throughout the country.
Benkirane’s government has promised to keep unemployment below 8 percent and to grow the economy by about 5.5 percent annually. In fact, the impact of the European economic crisis can be blamed the most for the unmet goals by the government. The unemployment rate in Morocco is still above 9 percent and the economy is predicted to grow by less than 4 percent in 2012.
Although, Mr. Benkirane is pushing for more reforms in some crucial sectors, such as transport, education and judicial, he faces tough criticism from his opposition. Also, he has been talking about his tense relationships with the King’s entourage or advisers. He often describes them as “powerful creatures.”
Also, Mr. Benkirane faced pressures from the Independence Party, especially after Mr. Hamid Chabat was elected as head of the party; he has pressured the Prime Minister to reshuffle the current government cabinet.
Mr. Benkirane was born in Morocco’s capital in 1954. He’s a Moroccan politician who has been leader of the Justice and Development Party since July 2008, taking over from Saadeddine Othmani. After the PJD won the parliamentary elections in November 2011, by taking 107 seats out of the 395 in Parliament, King Mohamed VI appointed Mr. Benkirane as Prime Minister of Morocco. Benkirane’s first task was forming a governing coalition.
After the PJD won the parliamentary elections in November 2011, by taking 107 seats out of the 395 in Parliament, King Mohamed VI appointed Mr. Benkirane as Prime Minister of Morocco. Benkirane’s first task was forming a governing coalition.
The secretary general of the PJD made, sometimes, utterly violent statements. Behind the scenes of Rabat, it was rumored that the man was “supported”. In any case, the tactics of the PJD’s Secretary General paid off. During the November 25 legislative, Abdelilah Benkirane won a resounding victory. The PJD won 107 seats out of 395 and PAM was laminated. Appointed in the wake of the polls as Head of Government, Benkirane rapidly constituted a majority and is finally reaping the fruits of a position where he has always spared the monarchy. This makes him the first politician to become the head of government, not by defeating a government party, but by defeating another opposition party.