Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Morocco: The Parties And The New Constitution

By Mohammed al-Ashab

The ongoing debate in Morocco concerning the time of the upcoming legislative deadlines cannot be separated from the political reality that was imposed through the passing of a new constitution with broad jurisdictions. The ball has now moved to the field of the political partners that will have to deal with the current developments with a mentality that is akin to the practice of self criticism, i.e. the uncovering of the weaknesses and strengths in the partisan experience. The latter has gone through different forms of confrontation and has settled at complete normalization within the requirements of democratic legitimacy.
The growing fears resulting from the premature elections, even if these took place less than a year before their term, are due to the fact that no partisan partner had considered this option. Most of the parties in the opposition and pro-government sides had programmed the agenda of their conferences based on the preparations for the 2012 elections. It seems that the constraints imposed by the passing of a new constitution – which is supposed to be accompanied by new elected institutions – are pushing in the direction of launching the electoral competitions prior to the re-structuring of the partisan camps that were affected by the erosion of the political atmosphere. But what is certain – based on the former electoral experiences – is that whoever takes part in them as part of the opposition has more chances [of success] than whoever is defending the interests of the government side.
Hence, there is a belief that the Islamists, namely the Justice and Development party, enjoy luck that seems to exceed all expectations. However, this does not cancel out one of the most prominent hypotheses, which indicates that any party or political bloc may feel secure as to having a comfortable majority. Indeed, the logic of the monopolization of political power is over since all the partners accepted the coexistence, which calls for the need to build alliances even between the foes, in order to form a cabinet.
For this reason or others, the new cabinet has made a link between the appointment of the new prime minister and him belonging to the party that comes first. The constitution did not mention anything about the parliamentary majority in order to leave the door open to the expected alliances. The socialist union, during the era of Prime Minister Abdel-Rahman al-Youssifi, was forced to summon the MPs of the Justice and Development in order to support his government before the Islamic party [i.e. the Justice and Development party] decided to move to the opposition ranks.
Nothing prevents the replacement of the rotation system with an Islamic leadership. The past experience has gone gradually from the socialists to the technocrats then to the Independence Party, which has an Islamic reference and a conservative tradition. The moderate Islamists are no longer hiding their aspirations to lead the upcoming [phase] in the event that the voting ballots allowed them to carry out this – now natural – transformation.
On the other hand, the supporters of the popular movement – which has an Amazigh reference – are now weaving the threads of alliances that are focusing on bringing together intentions and references and making use of the presence of the elites and the tribes. They are supported in that by the fact that this is the first time where the Amazighs have had their language officially acknowledged in addition to Arabic. In fact, those who aspire to join the movement of the liberals are also working on building a new bloc to bring together the pieces of the parties of the middle and the right.
The surprise might be created by the partners at the democratic bloc (the Independence, the Socialist Union, the Progress, and the Socialist party) if these were to nominate common candidates with a unified program. However, this depends on the political mood that might separate the partners of the one road. The most important thing is that the political game has opened up to all horizons. However, the voters are the decision makers and they alone can settle the kind of rotation that they want. Will it be a continuing one with new faces, or will cloning be always there?
In all cases, the premature [electoral] deadlines have taken everyone by surprise. But the demands of the Street remain unchanged, pending a translation of the new constitution into new solutions to the old problems.
This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 12/07/2011

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