Morocco World News
Casablanca, June 24, 2013
The Islamist party is finally in power but the first signs are far cry from being reassuring. Being a novice in macro governance and trapped in one of the most critical economic downturns in the history of Morocco, the Party of justice and development struggles to prove its exaggerated promises feasible. The Istiqlal party (IP) has been going through a slow process of internal disintegration and the fact that it can still secure large number of votes should not be misleading. It is true that IP has aggregated a valuable expertise in vote winning, but the withdrawal of its disgruntled senior members is an imminent threat to the IP viability in the political scene.
The left wing parties are not in a better shape either. The Social Union of Popular Forces (USFP) is already weakened by divisions among its ranks. This last bastion of socialism is wading in stormy waters and unable to wear the opposition’s mantle with ease and efficiency. The Unified left on the other hand is more engrossed in ideological debates haunted by the so called “Islamist tide” which has not turned to be that “Islamist” after all. In the midst of this dialogic wrangling with the PJD, the left wing parties seem to overlook the two most crucial aspects of politics: governance and economy.
In the interstices of Moroccan partisan politics, there are also those parties from the right wing such as the Constitutional Union and other minor parties who have always their share of the pie and their say in politics despite the weakness of their ideological advocacies and their waning credibility.
Faced with this political lethargy, the Moroccan voter can either abstain from voting or cast the ballot randomly for a relative, an acquaintance, a famous figure or just as a nostalgic tribute to the reminiscence of what those parties were once in the past. It is no wonder that the role of political parties in energizing the political life in Morocco is shrinking.
Political parties play a cardinal role in the organization of the political life and the consolidation of democracy. They represent the most important linkage between the citizen and the political process. They enable different segments of society to aggregate diverse interests and passions into a coherent system.
It is primarily the fierce competition between political parties that provides the most dependable assurance of accountability among decision makers. But most importantly, political parties should offer the electorate different ideological and managerial alternatives as far as political practice is concerned. 
Political parties represent initially an institution that encloses individuals sharing similar claims on society and politics. Political parties are initially founded around political ideas and a set of common interests. But in the process of their expansion and the practice of power, they may go astray from their ideological grounding to embrace more utilitarian principles that are likely to ensure their durability in a highly competitive context.
Despite the fact that most political parties veer from their initial ideological tenets, they withhold nonetheless the same political discourse centered on utopian values. It is no wonder then that the constituencies may notice a stark contrast between the parties’ manifestos and their real political praxis.
Following the same descending curve, Moroccan parties, as real political agents, are losing momentum amid the electorate and youth in particular. Many young Moroccans are seeking new channels of emancipation of the public life through the associative work rather than political activism. Discouraged by the glass ceiling policies and the absence of internal democracy within these parties, Moroccan youth seem to have repudiated politics.
In the democratic systems, the electorate should normally have at their disposal an array of political alternatives. But what happens when the voter is offered identical political agendas but under different banners? It becomes obvious then that the mushrooming of parties in Morocco is not a sign of a healthy democracy. Politics becomes a pure investment of funds and means with the expectation of colossal profits. That is not to say that the exercise of politics is based solely on ideologies rather than the pragmatic pursuit of interests. Nevertheless, when the game of interests takes over the nobility of principles, democracy is in peril.
Let’s consider the case of two of the most powerful political parties in Morocco: the Istiqlal party and the Socialist Union of Popular Forces. The former represents the conservative wing, a vehement defender of Arabism and the Islamic character of the Moroccan culture, whereas the latter places more premium on socialist principles, namely democracy, accountability and the equal distribution of wealth without any emphatic reference to religion.
Generally, these parties do not offer the Moroccan electorate two diametrically opposed modes of governance or set of priorities, more particularly in economy. But these solid institutions have been sailing in stormy waters with the budding of a dozen of minor parties and the scissions within their own ranks. The USFP has been striving to stay afloat whereas the Istiqlal Party (IP) has been more concerned with its internal cohesion.
Additionally, the recruiting capacity of these parties has strategically shifted from ideological indoctrination to a typically utilitarian mobilization of human resources that starts only few months before the elections. The electoral lists are swiftly filled with new comers who are neither militants nor faithful to the parties’ credentials, but being real for votes’ magnet, they stand firmly as the new winning cards.
Ironically, the new comers will be propelled into the leading positions leaving behind all those senior members who have consumed the vigor of their youth in political activism. Prey to alienation, some senior members would retreat from the limelight and relinquish their seats to the new political upstarts whereas the most steadfast ones would sever all ties with their parties and observe from a distance with concern and disaffection.
If there is a real contingency in Moroccan politics today, it is because of the ethical crisis plaguing the Moroccan political parties today. The rise of nepotism and unprincipled political practice is nothing but the predictable outcome of dysfunctional political parties. It is true that other intermediary organizations such as NGOs are a surrogate to politics but their potential for change is extremely diminished since they fail to secure positions in the legislative and the executive institutions. Despite their recent integration into the social and economic council, the contribution of Moroccan NGOs remains mere consultative since they can neither draft bills or pass laws.
 Schmitter, Phillipe (2001). « Parties are not what they once Were ». Political Parties and Democracy. Jhon Hopkins University Press.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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