Abu Dhabi - The protests in the Rif have conveyed several political and social messages that raise questions regarding the ability of Morocco’s political system to react positively toward such a new wave of protest dynamism. Indeed, the current uprising widens the gap between political power and social classes, who have suffered from political crackdown, oppression, corruption, and negligence.
Abu Dhabi – The protests in the Rif have conveyed several political and social messages that raise questions regarding the ability of Morocco’s political system to react positively toward such a new wave of protest dynamism. Indeed, the current uprising widens the gap between political power and social classes, who have suffered from political crackdown, oppression, corruption, and negligence.
Roughly six years after the collapse of the Arab spring, Morocco’s dream of changing corrupted political apparatus has been overwhelmed. The intermediary institutions, such as the political parties, have been criticized for their inability to enact change and provide efficient political mediation to help citizens to get their basic needs. Political parties concentrate solely on the electoral process, hence no real, effective partisan opposition is working in place. The majority of parties have been co-opted by the monarchy institution.
The new authoritarian power has overcome the deep state skirmishes, which could have heavily undermined the image of royal institution, considered to be the main actor in the Moroccan political scene. The submergence of political life by the royal monopolistic practice out of 2011 constitution’s framework has helped destabilize the other institutions’ role in the political scene. The revised constitution has been largely seen as a simple analgesic to avoid the Arab spring fallouts.
Despite Morocco’s success containing the 20 February Movement, which rose up demanding the eventual constitutional-political task of “parliamentary monarchy” instead of fighting for social tasks. This demand was identified as incompatible with Moroccan political practice, which prefers to postpone crises instead of resolving them.
The Absence of Reform: The drop that over-spilled the vase
It’s clear that the current political authoritarian structures are incapable of exerting social control, which cannot allow, according to certain social norms, the harmonization of citizens’ ideas, attitudes, and behaviors. Morocco’s state is losing control of its marginalized populations. Morocco’s political system has retracted all the gains of the revised Constitution, which were intended to form a superior normative law organizing the relationship between citizen and power and underscoring a balance between rights and duties.
The dynamism of protest was like a latent flame that did not extinguish, but it has remained on the crater of a volcano waiting for predictable reforms. However, this has not come from the political system, which still proceeds with an amalgamation of force and judicial proceedings policy. Many observers have highlighted the considerable decline of freedoms and human rights in Morocco’s political scene.
The return of the narrow security approach helps fuel a direct confrontation between monarchy and society, which might lead to a strangulation of Morocco’s political structures. The state needs to adopt a global comprehensive development approach, exerting real reform within a political lethargy due essentially to reliance on fake political elites deprived of a long-term strategic view.
Contrary to the mantra in politics which said “when in a hole, stop digging,” Morocco’s Makhzen (governing institution) mentality continues to use this approach, which causes a deep gap between the monarchic institution and its citizens. At the beginning of his reign, King Mohammed VI succeeded to persuade Moroccans with constructive initiatives as well as an inherent historical legitimacy. However, the corrupted maneuvers adopted by Morocco’s authoritarian, unscrupulous bureaucratic elite have sidestepped the monarchy’s achievements.
The “new authoritarianism” has adopted a zealous political practice behavior, resisting demands for a new political system of openness that could upgrade democratic political practice, implement transparency, and link responsibility with accountability. The unsettled political system cannot quickly be unlocked in such a way, since some policy makers still trust a small circle of beneficiaries. That means largely that Moroccan citizens remain unable to take part in the decision-making process, and so they reject the poor parliamentary representation and the political party’s mediation as well.
Dynamic protest: social tasks with no separatist agenda
The constitutional vacuum witnesses in Morocco’s political during the unprecedented long negotiations to form the government led by the Justice and Development Party (PJD) has increased Moroccan citizens’ distrust of the government’s ability to deal with vital issues. It was largely felt that the vacuum caused by the political institutions had contributed to the escalation of protests for more than eight months in the Rif region.
It should be said that the presence the Justice and Charity group does not reflect the role of this group in the social mobilization and does not indicate its prominent role to protect and guide this societal dynamic. However, this Islamic movement plays a “catalyst role,” as was the case for the 2011 uprisings, taking advantage of the social crisis in order to strengthen the disharmony between the political authority and the Moroccan citizens to serve their interests and strategic objectives. The political use of the Rif crisis by the group is an attempt to extend the social protest to other regions in Morocco, which could have serious consequences. Despite the fact that the group wanted to be in the protest to shows its strength and organizational capacity to other organizations, more than two-thirds of the demonstrators in the Rabat march were neither political nor politically affiliated.
The protest movement represents a new wave of social dynamic, one which focuses only on social demands, extending solidarity ties among Moroccans in their entire spectrum with the Rif region and all marginalized Moroccan regions as well. That has spurred the government to its failed approach and added fuel to the fire of sectarian strife and cultural differences, which is a source of strength and attractiveness of Morocco’s multi-identities and culture.
The Rising of Margin Power
The pivotal component of the current protest dynamic is the emergence of marginalized urban areas coming from marginal zones, similar to the situation in various Latin American countries. In Morocco today, there are two distinct classes: the rich, made up of politicians, industrialists, financiers, rentiers, and bourgeoisie, and poor people, the grassroots, and the destitute who live from day to day in total poverty. A middle class, serving as a “shock absorber” between the rich and the poor, disappeared from Morocco’s social scene a long time ago (1) . This prominent indicator means that the current political conflict is between the political system and the people who manifest their readiness to show their refusal toward current government policies for not adopting new alternatives responding to their social fear demands. Instead, Morocco’s security forces continue to use repressive methods to extinguish the fire, with so many young outrageous protesters arrested, persecuted, and wounded during the standoffs.
Upgrade intermediate institutions
By adopting anti-corruption slogans and focusing on the development approach, the protest actions point the finger to the importance of values to guide the country’s management of public affairs, stressing its critical rhetoric on the obligation of change to curtail false images of democracy which are no longer useful. The chronic problems must be addressed, like unemployment, corruption, nepotism, and the reliance on a insincere elite. The arbitrary political behaviors contribute to the loss of confidence in the moral dimension of political decision-makers, which may produce a wide sector of people disgruntled with the political system.
The political parties and trade unions have been co-opted by the Makhzen, and as a result have lost their political “virginity” in the eyes of the population, having failed to play a mediating role representing citizens and express their concerns and problems. The parliament underestimates the legislative institution by opting for the opportunist behaviors, lack of rigor, and discipline through the constant absence during the parliamentary sessions.
In fact, the protest dynamic is a major social upheaval testing the ability of the political system to deal with their fair causes, waiting for its reaction to correct all the erroneous paths and bypass the standoff, especially since many international reports show Morocco’s low status ranking in the human development index. In the era of globalization, information about Moroccan political abuses and distortions is evident, at the level of both local and national governance and the management of public institutions.
Morocco’s political system needs to adopt national development strategies to fix social problems and to put many efforts on the social programs. This requires a credible and transparent handling of social demands, including changing the bureaucratic mentality, intensifying the efforts of all political actors in Morocco’s landscape, and upgrading and improving the performance of intermediary institutions to serve the internal development goals. Morocco’s regional role, politically, and in terms of security and stability, cannot be realized due to its weak internal economic and political structures and the escalation of political and social grievances.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity.
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