Thursday, September 6, 2007

Vote for the PSU?

Being a Moroccan expat, I'm deprived from my inalienable right to vote. As are all Moroccans living outside their country of origin. However, the Moroccan constitution provides the right, in principle, for Moroccans abroad to cast their votes. But even if I had the opportunity to vote indeed, I would still wonder whether to do it or not, under the current constitution which is anything but democratic.

Despite all the doubts, fears and passions that next Moroccan legislative elections have aroused, I'm not really a supporter of boycotts. The electoral process and the behavior of both the Makhzen and the Cocotte-Minute parties have caused a real disgust and rage amongst supporters of liberal democracy in Morocco (and they are so many), nevertheless there may still be a point in casting its vote, and maybe this time more than ever. The reason is that the Makhzen will have troubles playing the dirty tricks it used to adopt in the recent past (even if the temptation is very strong to stuff the ballots and fabricate the figures again...). The methods used this time are, yes, more subtle but not as effective as the good old political chicanery was. As Ibn Kafka (an erudite and wise Moroccan savvy) pointed out, the only method left for the power to prevent a landslide victory for the PJD ('moderate' Islamists) or any other party for that matter, is gerrymandering: i.e. the multiplication of electoral precincts where the Islamists are believed to be most popular and also by helping create new opportunistic and obsequious "parties," with no ideological basis whatsoever, hence weakening and diluting the vote.

The good news is that there are still honest people out there, candidates, men and women, who are known for their integrity and loyalty for liberal democracy and justice. I'm talking about the PSU (Partie Socialiste Unifié). This party is composed of left-leaning groups mainly the OADP and the Fidélité à la démocracie movement (a splinter group from the USFP). My view is that the PSU has today united under its wing the finest militants and pro-democracy partisans in the country. Many of whom have accepted to go through the painful experience of confronting the power's restrictions and the so many hurdles. They have taken the risk of exposing themselves to the attacks and intimidations. Yes the party is still organising itself and in many respect, is still quite weak, they are far from contemplating the majority in the parliament (who can, anyway), nor are they as popular as the PJD, but as far as many people are concerned, these are part of the elite of the nation, the crème-de-la crème of Moroccan intelligentsia. And If I were to vote next Friday, my vote would definitely go for them. But would that be of any good?

Of course a constitutional reform is crucially needed, and I can understand the view point of many of my countrymen who refuse to vote and/or call for the boycott of the process. Indeed the Moroccan constitution is fundamentally undemocratic, giving the monarch total preeminence over other institutions which are, completely emptied from any substance. That leaves the King, the real power holder, with absolute supremacy. Untouchable. This, obviously, in the final analysis, destroys the elementary notion of accountability. Bearing all this in mind, I wonder if boycott is strategically sound, at this point in time at least. The archaic makhzenian system ought to be defeated by its own means. Casting it's vote tomorrow may be a kind of endorsement for the process, which is touted as democratic by the regime, but dismissed by large parts of the population (very few Moroccans registered to vote). But what if parties like the PSU succeeded in putting some of it's members in the next parliament; wouldn't that be a push for progressive politics in the country? wouldn't that give them some nuisance power by putting them inside the system? I'm wondering...

(picture by"snarl")

5 comments:

Yassine said...

I think the Makhzen doesn't play the role it used to. As a journalist put it on today's Almassae paper: "There has been a privatisation of chicanery and the makhzen no longer plays that dirty role. People do it in a modern way!"

Hisham said...

Hi Yassine! Yes you're perfectly right; the "new era" ("العهد الجديد") should be understood as the NEW MAKHZEN (المخزن الجديد). The old crooks have been simply replaced by new, highly educated ones, disguised in their fancy suits and ostentatiously waving their dubious credantials.
Thank you mate!

nadia said...

I would like to congratulate you on your website. As a moroccan who has never lived in 'her' country (being born and raised in Europe), it's great to find a place on the blogopshere where not only my political viewpoints but also my cultural background finds resonance.
shukran!
nadia

Abdelilah Boukili said...

Hi Hisham,
It was a pleasure to be on the BBC with you.
I read all your comments about the political system in Morocco. As you know what Morocco needs is an enlighted political class, not one that sell just dreams during campaigns just to get to power. The Moroccans feel disappointed in the leftist political parties like USFP because it wore a completely new face once in government. The Moroccans again are trying their luck with PJD. As you know the reality of power changes everything. If there is anything good about these elections is that the once popular and now disappointing parties won't have the majority they were enjoying. When there are voters who know exactly who they are voting for and when all elected people are endowed with integrity and not easily lured by the glamour of power, then democratic practices will be a driving force leading to fundamental changes.

Hisham said...

Hi dear Nadia, Hi dear Abdelilah (my old chap from WHYS!)

@Nadia: I'm much honoured to know you. May the spirit of freedom and emancipation blow on all of our countymen and women who still don't have a say and still are being exploited under all pretexts. You're much welcome, my pleasure!

@Abdelilah: صديقي العزيز. Always a pleasure to hear your voice, with your unique Marrakshi accent on the BBC :) . Yes indeed, we're all fed up with the status quo, aren't we?
I have to admit, I have a selfish interest in pressing -as I modestly do- for a more liberal and free Morocco: I want this to happen NOW and HERE! You may say that's utopian, that's a naive dream, I believe it's a dream worth fighting for. Have you ever heard the Lennon song "Imagine;" that's what I'm talking about. Now me and you have had the opportunity through the sacrifices of our parents, to study, to get a degree, a job, to get access to literature, to science, to enlighten our minds. Our duty is not only to fill up our bank accounts (even if that's a legitimate thing to do... I'm not moralizing here), but it is to give back to our beautiful, beloved country what it deserves: a beautiful and respectful state on its own, with people taking matters into their own hands. What I, you and Nadia and our likes are doing maybe considered futile (if our efforts are taken individually), nevertheless by attracting people to our cause, hopefully our effort will get greater and greater, and people calling for progress and liberal democracy wont be taken for cranks anymore.
Always a pleasure my friend.

Don't make it your last visit Abdelilah and Nadia