Monday, June 17, 2013

Is Moroccan Exceptionalism Falling Apart?

    Monday, June 17, 2013   No comments

The so-called Arab Spring, which is an “Arab Revolution” when its spirit of change is considered historically, has unveiled many masks of extremisms, be they religious or secular. The Arab Revolution has shown, until now, that there is still a long way to go for the affected countries – and the ones not affected alike – to build a “social contract” based on political consensus by the competing parties and bodies for the formation of modern nation states that could be able to cater for the major slogans of the revolution, “liberty, equality, justice, dignity.”

The demands of Moroccans – who are still moving from being subjects to being citizens – are not different from the rest of the Arabs protesting in the streets. What is different is the political history of the country and its present specificity. The seeming advantage of this specificity is that the country delights in having a reformist super-active king, Mohammed VI, who knew how to react to the Arab revolts with his speech on 09 March 2011. A new constitution was drafted by an appointed committee. About 73 % of Moroccans turned out in the referendum of 1 July 2011, and 98 % voted a “yes,” according to the official statistics.[1] The grey area is that the current government seems in a deadlock, unable to deliver its electoral campaign programme of reform because of what it claims to be “pressures” of “crocodiles and ghosts” in the system behind the scenes! The undemocratic games of the pre-Moroccan Spring still influence the political scene and ambiguity reigns over the future of the country. Will Morocco prove its exceptionalism to be that of a smooth democratic transition? If so, it will be “positive exceptionalism.” Or will it be an exceptionalism that blocks, or at least slows down, the rhythm of democratic reforms? If so, it will be “negative exceptionalism,” or “pejorative exceptionalism.” In both cases, the role of the monarchy is undoubtedly crucial, and whatever form exceptionalism takes, it will affect its place in Moroccan politics, future history, and most importantly the Moroccan psyche that overall sympathizes with the current reformist king.[2] This delicate situation of Moroccan exceptionalism stems from the broken post-2011 coalition government. There is a deep political crisis that the Moroccan Spring, and Arab Revolution in general, has not accounted for yet.

The moderate Islamist party of PJD (Justice and Development Party) won the elections of 25 November 2011, and has been running the country, in a coalition government, for the first time. The coalition is “hybrid”, composed of the Independence party that came second in elections, and now holds the offices of six ministries, the Popular Movement (MP) that runs four ministries, and the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS) that equally runs six others, besides the leading party PJD that runs twelve ministries. (The PPS should not be confused with the largest socialist party The Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) which is in the opposition.) The coalition took time to be composed, and signed a Charter of Coalition as a way of solidifying team work for one agenda and not as parties that each works its own electoral agenda in the ministries it runs. The electoral system in the country obliges such hybrid coalitions because of the fragmented political parties that it creates.[3]

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