Saturday, September 8, 2007

And the Winner is... the Party of Abstention & Disafection

The main figure of significance to come out of the Moroccan legislative elections has been the rate of abstention: around 60% of those registered to vote have not bothered casting their votes yesterday (bear in mind that very few people registered in the first place). The minister of interior himself couldn't deny what he called "a rate of participation lower than expected."

The first results though, surprised many of the observers who were expecting a significant increase in the number of seats for the 'moderate'
Islamists of the PJD (Party of Justice and Development). One spokesman of the party said in an interview with Aljazeera that his party was struggling more against the money used by its opponents, than with opposite candidates themselves. He also referred to what he called "the negative neutrality" of the authorities in the face of such illegal use of money and influence.

The Proto-nationalists of the Istiqlal, a party made up of rich businessmen and some notables and which can be described as conservative to some extent, came first "with 52 seats, ahead of the PJD with 47 seats and the regionalists of the Popular Movement with 43," according to Aljazeera.net (2000GMT).

What wasn't a surprise at all, is the atomized and fragmented political scene the elections have yielded. This scattered picture was planed and encouraged in advance by the regime. Remember that a record number of 33 parties were participating in the poll.

So a question remains: It may sound legitimate or (rather) expected from a regime deeply rooted in Moroccan "tradition" of governing, to preserve itself and try to discredit whatever opponent might appear in the way. But is the repetition of the recipes of the past -and I mean the co-option of the opposition to discredit them in the eyes of the people and the attempts to weaken the recalcitrants-, is this still an intelligent strategy for the regime to preserve itself? As the cousin of the King, Prince Hicham said yesterday on the BBC, "there is a difference this time around: this will eventually have a cost; one can not repeat the same [mistakes] over and over again. Socialist and nationalist movements who have been waiting for decades, have been discredited by their participation in the government over [the last] ten years. It will be difficult to discredit again the PJD without paying a higher cost down the road. And the cost can be a very serious setback for the country and the monarchy itself."

On the phenomenon of the personalization of politics in Morocco, read the first hand analysis of Ibn Kafka (a Moroccan affairs pundit, more recommended -as far as I'm concerned- than the official Moroccan press agency).
(pictures respectively by "Kali.ma" & "Martin and Cathy Daddy")

5 comments:

Abdelilah Boukili said...

Hi Hisham,
Good article about Moroccan election results. It seems that PJD will have little chance to be in the government . I suspect Abbass El Fassi will emerge as the future PM pending on the support he can first get from the other parties like USFP, without forgetting that the final choice will be in the hands of the King.

As For Fouad Ali Al Himma, he is unlikely to be the PM, but he may continue as the dragon behind the throne.

eatbees said...

One wonders whether the PJD, in rushing to make itself palatable to the Palace and the Western powers, may have gone too far and convinced those who want change that they are "just like the others" after all...

I'm reading Quand le Maroc sera islamiste (I guess the answer to that is "later"...) and found this quote from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that sums it up beautifully, even though it was written over a year ago:

"The perception that the PJD has been corrupted by power could cause it to lose the support of the numerous Moroccans it attracted, not because it is an Islamic party, but because they believed it is the only honest party in Morocco, which was not bound by compromises with the Palace."

I agree with Prince Hicham that this game of cooptation and delay can't go on forever! Maybe it's worked brilliantly to make the Makhzen stronger for the last 40 years, but it isn't working for the majority of Moroccans who live in poverty and have no access to the system. Sometimes I feel that many Moroccans themselves aren't aware of how the majority of their countrymen live.

I am in awe at Moroccans' long-suffering patience, but something's got to change!

Hisham said...

@Abdelilah: I wish I knew, my friend, what was going on right now in the (real) corridors of power in Morocco. Abbas al Fassi, the archetype of the opportunistic nepotistic politician, responsible for the scandal of A'nnajat (النجاة)...as a PM?
what kind of nightmare would that be? In a perfect world, not only would he be ineligible, but he would be in the docks, paying for the hundreds of families destroyed, and hopes aborted. But everything is possible under the sky of Morocco; as the old adage goes: إذا كنت في المغرب فلا تستغرب
As for the PJD, and as cleverly noted by the Prince the other day, and by the wise Morocco adopted American, eatbees (see comment number #2... by the way Abdelilah, I highly recommend his blog for a clever fellow like you to consult), it is inexorably in the path of confrontation with the monarchy if its leadership is not coopted... which I'm affraid (unless the monarchy gets rid of its old reflexes) may prove to be dangerous for the country.
Finaly if I were to bet a million dollars (provided that I have them of course... which I'm not at all :) ), I would still say, Fouad Ali l'Himma is the next on the Moroccan "10 al-3awnat (العونات) street"
Ha Ha! (I may be wrong... I hope I'm wrong). Thanks a lot mate!

@eatbees: Always a pleasure to hear from a wise moroccan savvy like you.
I wholeheartedly agree. The PJD has very little choices under the current status quo! I guess the temptation whitin the party is very strong to participate in the government. But I'm quite sure that the leadership knows very well that participating in the government will announce the end of the strategic low-profile that the party has been adopting for years. As the Prince noted the other day, and as you cleverly mentioned: it would be very interesting to see the behavior of the party in the next five years:
-if it eventually participates in the government it would unavoidably run the risk of being discredited in the eyes of the people, hence oppening the the pandora box of radicalism, giving the perfect argument for groups waiting in the sidelines
-if it stays in the opposition, it will inexorably enter in frontal confrontation with the implacable machinery of the Makhzen. Unless -as some skeptics have commented- it continues to play the role of the safety shield for the monarchy.
In both cases the futur seems uncertain, and unfortunatly, progressists (like those of the PSU) are still too weak to shake up the status quo
Always touched by your compassion towards the plight of the most destitute Moroccans. Thanks fellow!

casa said...

prince hisham you sounds like one of those supporter of al 3adl wa al ihssan their way or the highway you criticizes everything except yourself

Hisham said...

@casa: First, casa, I wouldn't have dared giving my self the title you've just sarcastically attributed to me. You're welcome to put your agruments and discuss whatever you like here, but please, don't engage in personal attacks against people again because you don't like their politics. I think you've mistakingly landed in the wrong place!