Waiting for Democracy

Yesterday I phoned an old friend of mine back home in Morocco. We talked about the old days and of course we chatted about the elections to come. When I inquired about the enthusiasm for the upcoming legislative poll (if any), the answer of the old friend was:

“ما كاين لا ديموقراطية و لا يحزنون… بنادم غير كيتصطى عالوقت”
(There is no such a think as democracy in this country… they are just fooling around, wasting time)
I think it summed it up. Thinks aren’t always as they seem to be in the north African Kingdom.
Notwithstanding the pessimism of my friend but bearing in mind that the center of power lies in the royal palace and that next elections are more likely to produce a scattered, atomised and inconsistent parliament, I engaged in the painful exercise of listening to some of the participating parties’ presentations and campaign speeches.
Apart from some rare exceptions -mainly from the ‘moderate’ Islamists of the PJD and the leftists of the PSU (Unified Socialist Party)-, I often found my self wondering whether to laugh or cry at the abysmal depth of nonsense that most of those so-called political parties have to offer.

Amidst this sea of political cacophony, one may still discern some coherent voices that seem to hit the target in some way. But however sincere these voices may be, and assuming that they will make it to Majliss A’nouab (the lower house of the Moroccan parliament), they would still have to contend with the omnipresence, omnipotence of the Monarch. He still have the power to appoint ministers, dissolve parliament…etc.

Many still argue that Moroccans aren’t ready or mature enough to take matters into their own hands and that Monarchy is vital for the stability of the country. Whilst I agree that the royal institution has a pivotal role to play by bringing Moroccans together, cementing the national bound between the ethnically diverse groups in the country and as a symbol of common identity and prestige (no less), I reject the fallacious argument that implies that Moroccans need constant care because of some inherent immaturity! This nation is 12 centuries old and Moroccans have, throughout the years, seen all kinds of hardship and have experienced the worst forms of abuse by the power. There are undoubtedly strong ties between the people and the royal family and Moroccans would much rather see reform under an enlightened and more liberal monarchy, but they are fed up of being patronised and abused by the system.

It seems clear to me that the Makhzen, which cannot afford anymore openly stage the elections as it did in the very recent past, has resorted this time to gerrymandering to disallow any clear majority to come out of the polls. Due to the huge international focus and to the overwhelming development of information means, the regime has opted for a sophisticated (but previously experienced) system, allowing a record number of “parties” to engage in the vote and multiplying the number of electoral districts, hence diluting the votes which were expected to support the PJD in great numbers. So no clear and outright majority expected… as usual.

For the sake of all Moroccans and -in a way- for the sake of the Monarchy itself, real and genuine democracy is needed: Montesquieu style, not the facade, fake democracy aimed more at polishing the image of the regime at the world stage. The Makhzen agents must understand that it is no longer viable to act as if they owned the country, that the world is watching and that Moroccans are in urgent need for change… a real one!

(pictures respectively by “paulbence” & ” multum in parvo“)

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