By Aimane Cherragui
By Aimane Cherragui
Casablanca – As an independent political observer, I think that the recent end of the governmental negotiations is the biggest political crisis since the 2011 Arab Spring protests.
After the recent parliamentary elections in October 2016, the Justice and Development Party (PJD) came first. As stipulated in the Moroccan constitution, King Mohamed VI had to choose the Chief of Government from the party which comes first in the general elections.
It could have been anyone from the PJD, but the King chose to renew the position of Abdelilah Benkirane as the head of the Moroccan government for the next five years, 2016 to 2021.
Abdelilah Benkirane began his constitutional obligation of forming the governmental coalition. The Moroccan constitution sets no specific deadline for the formation of this coalition. It has now been exactly three months since King Mohamed VI nominated Benkirane as head of government and yet no coalition agreement has been reached among the political parties interested in joining the future government.
The power and force of the negotiations of any political party in coalition talks is based on its electoral weight. However, in Morocco this rule does not seem to apply. Abdelilah Benkirane met with all political leaders and took account of all political forces after the last general elections. As any political observer knows, with new elections come new configurations and new political leverages.
Some Moroccan political parties refused to be in the same coalition with other parties. Some other parties set specific conditions that were not acceptable to Abdelilah Benkirane and gentlemen’s agreements between some parties made it difficult for Benkirane to find a suitable majority, both numerically and qualitatively.
His last action was to announce that the coalition talks have ended without any decisions on the next coalition, nor on an amicable solution to solve this political dead end.
This current situation has a cost:
On a political level: Instability and lack of vision on the work of institutions and public administrations; Parliament on standby; laws and regulations on hold; ministries without leadership; and the delay of signature on several strategic agreements.
On an economic level: National and foreign investors who delay their investments for lack of political stability; the ambiguity concerning the state of finances in 2017, which impact all expenditures and revenues of the state; the dynamics of Moroccan Small & Medium-Sized Entreprises (SME’s) delayed because of the paralysis of government spending, with 95% of Moroccan companies categorized as SME’s.
Wise men once said, “With extraordinary times must come extraordinary measures,” and this situation requires them. If the head of government does not manage to create new common ground with the political strength needed to form the next government, a royal arbitration (or refereeing) may be necessary, as allowed by the Moroccan constitution. The King can either choose another head of government from the PJD, or withdraw trust in Parliament and call for new general elections to take place. In my opinion, any other solution would be unconstitutional.
I presume that the next move of the PJD would be to support the position of the head of government, Abdelilah Benkirane, and to stably hold position in the coalition talks. The party is heavily confident and relying on its 125 seats in the Parliament from a total of 395 seats.
Moreover, a few days ago, the General Secretary of the party released a statement asserting that the PJD will be supporting Benkirane in all possible outcomes. This solidarity is a clear message to other political parties and to the royal palace that there will be no Judas within the PJD to propose him or herself instead of Benkirane.
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