The Moorish Wanderer

Moroccan Elections for the Clueless Vol.16

Posted in Flash News, Intikhabates-Elections, Moroccan Politics & Economics, Read & Heard by Zouhair Baghough on November 12, 2011

Following the previous post on party logos, here are the remaining items selected from a pool of political parties in Morocco

Party Logos - Please notify me if I have missed one out (significant parties, that is)

1997 MPDC

MPDC/PJD Mouvement Populaire Démocratique & Constitutionnel – Parti Justice & Développement: yes, PJD party has not been created out of thin air; some Radical Islamists, in their bidding to join mainstream politics, were offered the possibility to join a small MP breakaway and gain respectability through it. It is amazing however, that even though PJD has been formally founded in 2002, they kept MPDC’s lantern -with some minor upgrades. Depending on how you see it, PJD is, at heart, either an administrative party (its surrogate organization, MPDC, is an MP split-off) or a National Movement party (PJD founder and father-figure, Dr. Abdelkrim Khatib, was an MLA commander prior to independence)

I suppose the symbolism encompassed in the lantern is pretty similar to that of OADP’s candle. Although it does carry a stronger sense of PJD/MPDC being a truth-seeker, a moral crusader (Jihadist in that context) vested with the sacred mission to right the wrongs of this society.

Pre-2002 UC Logo

UC – Union Constitutionnelle: perhaps the only true conservative party in Morocco -conservative on economics, that is- whose founder was, ironically, a former UNFP Casablanca boss (Mâati Bouabid). The Orange, both as a colour and as a symbol belies its hard-line on liberalization they supported in the 1980s; that is why perhaps they have switched to the Horse.

An orange could be a symbol of “It’s the Economy, Stupid” kind of stump-speech: the fruit is a key component of Moroccan exports, especially at the time when Moroccan officials thought of Morocco’s mission to be Europe’s supplier in cheap and abundant food and raw agricultural products. As for the colour, orange is usually associated with centrist policy, a broad theme both UC and RNI exploited as a strategy to advertise themselves as above-partisan politics organizations.

PND (defunct) pre 2002

PND – Parti National Démocrate: a rural breakaway from RNI, PND paradoxically prides itself of its union roots. The breakaway occured first in 1979 when a dissident RNI caucus decided to veto the Budget Bill (over a famously disastrous football match Morocco lost to Algeria 5-2) and formally founded itself as a party in 1984.

Its founder and most famous leader, Arsalane Jadidi, a former union leader, brought that unique brand of union populism to the party, and much of it symbolism: the way ears of corn are displayed, the balance and the torch reminds us of UMT’s own logo; the logo embodies the official PND line: proudly rural-oriented party, and focused on achieving social justice and liberty (the hand-held torch here borrows from the Thatcherite symbolic instead of MLA legacy) PND eventually merged into the now PAM (authenticity & modernity Party) juggernaut.

MDS Logo

MDS- Mouvement Démocratique et Social: that party really is a Sphinx to the observer Moroccan politics. Mahmoud Archane, MDS founder and lifelong leader managed to scrap a respectable number of seats during the 1997 elections, essentially as a competitor to MP and MNP is mountainous and peripheral urban-rural constituencies. The symbolism behind the Palm-tree belies that; but I assume since Al Haraka had already their hands on the ear of wheat, MDS had to settle to the next rural symbol, and there comes the Palm-tree – even though it refers more to desert or Saharan-like rural set-up.

Moroccan Elections for the Clueless Vol.7

Posted in Moroccan ‘Current’ News, Moroccan Politics & Economics, Morocco, Read & Heard, The Wanderer by Zouhair Baghough on October 15, 2011

A little-known party (for the younger generation, anyway) plays an important role in the A8 Alliance, an establishment party with a very good chance to go back into office, although with junior positions, compared to the portfolio it held some 30 years ago.

Maâti Bouabid (1927-1997) managed to be a UNFP labour relations minister in 1960, a independent justice minister in 1977, and Prime Minister in 1979.

the Union Constitutionnelle (UC) is one of these administrative parties created conveniently to deny the Koutla opposition any chance to take over parliament and government. After all, UC party was dubbed “Parti Cocotte-Minute” (pressure-cooker party) as it was founded April 1983, contested local elections in June 1983 and got a plurality of votes in the general elections of September 1984. And ever since then, their caucus has retained a respectable number of representatives; In 2007, they pulled off about the same number of  representatives as USFP did (not a very flattering comparison for the left-leaning party)

But the trademark of this obscure party remains its almost brazen embracing of Neo-conservative, right-wing economics right from day one. During its first convention, the ground rules of its self-proclaimed ideology had been laid out, especially in its economic manifesto: State property (SODEA and SOGETA, mainly) of farmlands needs to be divested by leasing them to farmers and sometimes to cooperatives. UC was also the first party to push for privatization to roll back state intervention in output production, a lighter fiscal apparatus for everyone and developing private financial institutions. And its staunch commitment to right-wing economics is somewhat at odds with the self-proclaimed left-of-centre stance from its senior partner, the RNI; but on policies and broad ideological lines, both parties are a perfect match. So perfect that they have managed to strike a deal in merging their representatives into one single caucus (RCU) even though one party is in the opposition and the other in government.

Tall Brother Mezouar (RNI) and Small Brother Abied (UC). (Picture: le Matin)

Although UC has not been directly involved with privatization policies that have started with the 1990s, the subsidy lift on some strategic goods that triggered bloody riots on June 1984 happened under UC founder and grandee, the late Maâti Bouabid. Incidentally, his background, as well as the connotation behind the party’s name, where a bit of a pied-de-nez to the socialist opposition (at that time, USFP has taken over from UNFP a long time ago) with an emphasis on established institutions (namely the 1962 constitution and its subsequent reforms of 1971 and 1972). Mâati Bouabid was also UNFP Representative to Casablanca in the 1963 Parliament, as well as  the city’s first head of local council.

Though Bouabid’s death in 1997  has brought the party into political obscurity, the A8 Alliance could well be an opportunity for Mr Abied, UC Leader, to add one last line to his public service résumé by holding a second ministerial position after 1992 (Social Affairs and Traditional craftsmanship minister) before retiring from politics.

Just like Independents-turned-RNI in 1977, UC candidates wiped the floor with the whole political spectrum by capturing 55 seats in the general elections, and some 1.1 Mln votes. With indirect-ballot elections, the 83-members strong UC caucus fielded a healthy house majority of 27.6%, about the same number of seats RNI and PND carried after the election, and way before the Koutla (USFP, Istiqlal and PPS) And that decline referred to earlier on is not such a dramatic one, all things considered: the arithmetic of parliamentary caucuses establishes a certain threshold when it comes to “hizbicules” and “mainstream parties”; so far, with the UC caucus ranging from 49 seats in 1997 (7 less than USFP) and 27 in 2007 (6 less than USFP) figures that still make UC look like a mainstream party, albeit in a state of discrete opposition.

Why care about this party? One might think the alliance is not likely to stand the ensuing political horse-trading that follows election results (unless they have already agreed on who gets which ministry, which brand of car, etc.) but, if the RCU is in charge of the economic strategy, both UC and RNI have the credentials, as well as a respectable record in implementing right-wing, unpopular, trickle-down, voodoo economics, that is, slashing taxes for the rich, freezing and cutting front-line services at the expense of a majority of citizens… The nasty coalition is back.

1997 UC Logo. They retained the orange colour, but traded the fruit for a horse.