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Morocco: The Upcoming Elections

The Moroccan legislative elections are looming – with 33 parties, 1,870 local candidate lists and 26 national candidate lists of women all vying for the 325 seats of lower parliament, the elections will prove to be interesting.

This year marks Morocco's eighth legislative elections, which started in 1960, just after Morocco gained independence. Parliament was dissolved by King Hassan II in 1965, but the elections started up again in 1969, albeit to a different tune. Driss Basri, who just passed away, reportedly falsified votes (among other offenses), leading to the discrediting of Morocco's democratic process.

It is only in the past 10 years that the elections have gained some semblance of democracy. King Mohammed VI has put considerable effort into making the process fair; since 1997, proportionally representative candidate lists have been used as the basis for elections. In addition, a national list of female candidates has been formed to fill 30 parliamentary seats (although women may also vie for the other 295 seats).

For the next two weeks, I will give as much coverage as possible of the Moroccan elections as they unfold.

Ibn Kafka, who usually blogs in French, has written a detailed three-part analysis of the upcoming elections (see part one, and part two) in which he explains the history of the elections, as well as the history of repression. Of the latter, he says:

It would be wrong to think that these practices have stopped: they have merely subsided, since the fragmentation of the Moroccan political scene, with thirty-three parties competing in the 2007 elections and a few other who haven't bothered, means that no clear opposition, save of course the PJD, emerges. The current electoral system, in place since 2002 and based on proportional representation ensures that no party can emerge with an outright majority. The only conceivable parliamentary majority is thus a coalition of parties – and to underline the structural character of this partisan fragmentation, Morocco is probably the only country having experienced the first-past-the-post electoral system for six elections in a row (1963, 1970, 1977, 1984, 1992 and 1997) without ever having known a bipolar partisan system or a party winning an outright majority of seats in Parliament. Of course, this was the intended outcome under Basri's watch, and his successors under Mohammed VI's reign have only had to fine-tune things a bit.

Another concern amongst Moroccan voters is voter turnout. Although this year has seen many campaigns to encourage voting (particularly amongst youth), there are those such as Soumiaz who are worried:

I just wanted to share with you- and you can quote me on this, NEITHER THE GOVERNMENT, NOR THE KING WILL CHANGE ANYTHING, we have to claim the change! We Moroccans have to start thinking and acting as citizens. Kick your representatives’ butts, make them work … show them that you are no longer a subject but “un citoyens Marocains comme il se doit”. [a Moroccan citizen, as it should be]

For a long time, we let ourselves be misled; the administration is the servant and not us. Remind the clerk who is giving you an attitude “au service des mines,” that he/she was hired to serve you and that if it were not for you she/he would be still waiting at the temps agency… that will hopefully remind them who they are.
Don't give away your voice, VOTE. That is the only way for us to reclaim our BEAUTIFUL country.

Agadir Souss (fr) is concerned as well:

A la veille des législatives du 7 septembre liées intrinsèquement au projet démocratique marocain –avec à la clé un nouveau gouvernement et un nouveau Premier Ministre élu par le peuple– beaucoup d’électeurs connaissent trop peu de choses sur la trentaine de partis politiques en lice pour les commandes du Royaume. Certes, les compagnes électorales viennent de débuter, mais l’on connaît déjà les atouts et les objectifs de chacun.

With the day before the legislative elections of September 7 intrinsically related to the Moroccan democratic project – with the key to a new government and a new Prime Minister elected by the people – many voters don't know enough about the thirty political parties in line to rule the Kingdom. Admittedly, the electoral campaigns have just begun, but one knows already the assets and the objectives of each one.

Rissani Election Wall

Amazigh Blog (fr) isn't so confident that things have changed:

Mais QUOI DE NEUF en 2007?

Personnellement, si je devais résumer le tout en un seul mot, je dirais RIEN.

La démocratie?

Depuis belle lurette je ne crois plus en la politique marocaine, surtout quand il s'agit des urnes. Tous les partis prêchent pour la démocratie, mais qu'en est-il vraiment?

WHAT IS NEW in 2007?

Personally, if I had to sum it up in one word, I would say NOTHING.

Democracy?

I have not trusted Moroccan politics for a long time, especially when it comes to ballot boxes. All of the parties preach democracy, but what is it really?

Myrtus shares the news that a Moroccan female Jewish candidate will be running for parliament:

It was big news around the world a few years ago, when a record amount of women were appointed to fill various positions in Moroccan parliament which was considered unique in the Arab/Muslim world. Now we have yet another noteworthy situation, equally deserving praise.

Ange Bleu (fr) is frustrated over the lack of young people in the lists of candidates:

Tous les marocains connaissent ces visages, pour cause : ces gens là occupent la scène politique marocaine depuis l’indépendance.
Le plus jeune d’entre eux A « tenez-vous bien » : 76ans. c'est des veritables Dinosaures.

All Moroccans recognize these faces, with good reason: these gentlemen have occupied the Moroccan political scene since independence. The youngest of them is…76 years old. They are veritable dinosaurs.

The blogger adds:

On veut des jeunes bien formés avec de nouvelles idées et de nouveaux projets.

We want educated young people with new ideas and new projects.

Ange Bleu‘s closing words seem to echo the sentiment heard all over the blogoma. Look for more coverage of the Moroccan elections here in the weeks to come.

Creative Commons-licensed photo by pintxomoruno

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