The Moorish Wanderer

Le Corps Electoral, Circa 2013

Posted in Intikhabates-Elections, Moroccan ‘Current’ News, Morocco, Read & Heard by Zouhair Baghough on December 12, 2013

Sur le fil twitter de l’ancien Ministre des Affaires Etrangères, M. Saaddine Othmani:

Il est toujours agréable de trouver sur internet des bribes d’informations à priori publiques, mais dont l’accès est jalousement gardé, et dont la rareté oblige à une certaine créativité en matière d’inférences statistiques.

En l’occurrence, le Ministère de l’Intérieur a bien voulu mettre en ligne quelques aspects généraux des caractéristiques du corps électoral, sans pour autant se risquer à les mettre à disposition des citoyens sous un format exploitable, ou dans un  détail qui permet d’en faire une bonne interprétation. Mais je ne suis pas ingrat; comme disent les petits Martiens dans Toy Story: ‘Nous vous devons notre reconnaissance éternelle’.

J’ai souligné à plusieurs reprises que le corps électoral allait entamer un déclin irréversible si rien n’était fait pour motiver les générations les plus jeunes à s’inscrire massivement, voire à abaisser l’âge légal du vote pour associer le maximum d’individus au processus électoral. Les partis politiques de tout bord, comme l’administration, ne semblent pas être affectés outre mesure par cette tendance, il est même probable qu’ils en ignorent les conséquences (ou en anticipent les bénéfices, suivant l’opinion qu’on se forme du processus démocratique) et j’en veux pour exemple les articles triomphalistes produits lors du renouvellement des listes avant chaque consultation électorale. L’économiste en Juin 2009 rapporte:

Coup de jeune pour le corps électoral! Les moins de 35 ans constituent 32% des 13.360.219 personnes appelées à voter ce vendredi 12 juin. Principale raison: l’abaissement, initié par le Souverain en octobre 2008, de l’âge d’éligibilité à 21 ans au lieu de 23.

Alors que le journal Aufait Maroc déclarait en Mai 2011:

Deux tiers des demandes émanent des jeunes

[...] Devant cet apparent engouement pour le prochain rendez-vous consultatif, Hassan Aghmari ne pouvait que qualifier ce score d’“encourageant”. La même source précise que les deux tiers des demandes d’inscription sur ces listes ont été présentés par les jeunes: en effet, la tranche d’âge 18-25 ans a dépassé 43%, et le pourcentage de ceux âgés de moins de 35 ans s’est situé à 66%.

À en croire Hassan Aghmari, 56.000 demandes d’inscription ont été enregistrées quotidiennement, un “taux qui n’a jamais été enregistré auparavant”.

Or une brève représentation graphique du corps électoral comparée à la population adulte (âgée de 18 ans et plus) montre que l’écart se creuse, un phénomène qui est supposé être bloqué par ce “rajeunissement” du corps électoral. Le résultat est un retour de la taille du corps électoral à un niveau inférieur à 2002.

Le déclin de la population inscrite est imputable au désintérêt des jeunes en âge de voter à s'inscrire.

Le déclin de la population inscrite est imputable au désintérêt des jeunes en âge de voter à s’inscrire.

On constate par exemple qu’en l’espace des deux consultations électorales en 2011, le corps électoral enregistrement une perte nette de presque 30.000 individus enregistrés – en moins de six mois. Le même raisonnement qui sous-tend l’explication du déclin brutal dans la population inscrite entre 2007 et 2009 contredit la ligne fréquemment sortie en rapport avec le rajeunissement du corps électoral avec des faits sommaires: une prépondérance de plus en plus significative des individus âgés de plus de 30 ans, et un non-remplacement des électeurs décédés par les nouveaux inscrits.

En supposant une évolution stable des facteurs conduisant à la radiation effective du corps électoral, c’est-à-dire suivant les dispositions de la loi 57-11, principalement le décès et les peines privatives des droits civiques, il n’est possible d’expliquer le déclin du taux d’inscription des adultes que par un refus ou un désintérêt chez les premiers votants, en l’occurrence les jeunes âgés entre 18 et 25 ans à s’inscrit sur les listes. Pour tester cette hypothèse, on compare simplement cette catégorie avec les données de la décennie passée, et en utilisant les statistiques produites par B. Lopez Garcia:

  2002 2007 2013
Inscrits 15,58% 9,00% 7,00%
Pop. Totale 14,20% 14,02% 13,44%
Pop. Adulte 23,16% 21,73% 19,67%

(Note: le taux d’inscrits âgés entre 18-25 ans est inféré sur la densité de la population totale et celle âgée entre 20 et 30 ans  en 2002)

La tendance est assez robuste pour conclure que l’indicateur souvent retenu par les médias et les autorités – la population inscrite âgée de moins de 35 ans est fallacieux, car il masque la détérioration du renouvellement de la population inscrite, et donc le désintérêt (par militantisme ou ennui) des jeunes marocains qui arrivent régulièrement en âge d’exercer leurs prérogatives civiques.

Polling Day

Posted in Flash News, Moroccan ‘Current’ News, Morocco, Read & Heard by Zouhair Baghough on July 1, 2011

Today July 1st is going to be the dénouement of a 4-months long peculiar process: it started with whirling optimism with the Feb20 demonstrations (whose likely induced outcome I doubted, though I felt strong sympathies with the proposed agenda) then the whole thing wildly went off-course when the King delivered his historic speech on March 9th -I, for one, would not mind considering it historic- and from then on, the dark world of crude Moroccan politics took over. Not even boycotting the Abdelatif Menouni Commission managed to restore Feb20’s popularity, mainly because of its unability to offer a viable platform to rally more support to the cause, the movement, it seems, did not expand its support base.

Now with the June 17th speech the draft constitution is most likely to pass by a large margin; the unknown variables are the No-vote and the turn-out. Because polling is severely regulated in Morocco (and outright blocked during election time) there is no way to gauge the mood of electors, so basically, about 14 Mn registered people likely to either vote or abstain, and so would do so for a myriad of reasons, and probably these motives will never be polled, mapped and explained. Every election or referendum in Morocco is a lost cornucopia of information on the political thinking and values among the Moroccan population.

In dire need for Basri expertise in bottling up the Referendum

But I digress. I believe in party discipline as the essential feature of efficient partisan organization. Discipline of course, does not mean systematic suppression of dissent, but insures potential dissent expresses itself and makes sure it does not break away from the party line (and I would welcome the institution of a Whip position within the party). And on the issue of referendum, I unfortunately find myself at odds with the PSU‘s stand on referendum day: the party wants to boycott, I vote today. As I mentioned before, I would agree with 90% of the pro-boycott argument because it makes up my own position on the referendum. I disagree therefore only on the way to voice my discontentment with whole process: I believe a No Vote carries a stronger signal and shows moderation (I cannot believe I am making the case for Moderation) so I cannot understand why PSU and the Democratic Left went with the Boycott Option. Perhaps it might have to do with the very pressuring environment the party needs to cope with within the Feb20 movement;

Otherwise, I believe party leadership -and all the Pro-Boycott people- should observe and study very carefully the 1962 Constitutional Referendum: UNFP party was stronger, more organized, better-led political party and yet, they got beaten. Of course, Hassan II-era tactics are now obsolete: we have reached a level which absolved the Interior ministry from meddling directly with the everyday politics of campaigning. the Local administrative echelon, as well as notabilities acting as local representatives are endowed with a strange sense of patriotic duty, some might describe as a zealous, lick-spittle behaviour, and can thus do their masters’ bidding. And so, they would not hesitate into pouring money -taxpayer’s money- buying off local unemployed and mob to threaten and assault dissidents, or printing pro-Constitution leaflets and signs (the great thing with the Internet, pictures are taken, websites are snapshot, providing ample material for future political LOL) in a grandiloquent flourish the late Driss Basri wouldn’t have disdained.

Civic Nihilism. What Else?

And yet, in spite of all these fine things, I remain true to my word: I have set standards above which I would vote Yes for the new constitution. These standards have not been met, and so I shall express my discontent with the proposed draft. And contrary to some influential bloggers I know, I do not pretend to lead, or to be influential. That is merely my tiny voice expressing what it considers to be the highest legal norm in the realm. I am a fledgeling citizen in a fledgeling democracy after all, am I not?

And so the vote went on. the consulate was apparently closed for the very purpose of Referendum day. Two suits (presumably from the Interior Ministry) oversaw the voting procedure: the first one took the ID card to register the voter the second handed the envelope with the Yes an No bits of paper. I noticed a little counter device over the ballot box (a transparent one) so as to keep count of voters. Unfortunately, I failed to notice anyone acting as a civic watchdog (usually political parties or NGOs delegate individuals to oversee the procedure and the vote count) that might have to do with the fact that these organizations likely to engage in such initiative are calling for a boycott.

Well, speaking for my consulate, the turnout was quite high at 10 in the morning, and the overwhelming majority voted in favour of the draft (the polling booth was filled with the No leaflets) and quite frankly, it is a high turnout. I suppose we will all be updated on the final outcome this evening.

Update —-

Now, according to the figures put forward by the Interior Ministry late this evening, the turnout was 70% (reported by my colleague and friend Hisham) a high figure considering the threat of boycott and the hurriedly put together initiatives from local officials to scramble for voters backing up the turnout.

As for PSU party and our Democratic Left comrades, it is high time we started thinking about real policies. The parties of innovative thinking have been robbed of their salient feature: the stalwart support of constitutional reforms. We would look at best ridiculous if we keep on banging about that reform; As a matter of principle, calling for genuine reforms makes sense (it always does) but in the eyes of Moroccan electorate, that image of “Loony Left” is likely to stick even closer to an already isolated ideal of radical thinking and social liberalism.

False Patriotism and Other Tricks

The trouble with events like those we witnessed on May 23rd, is that temptation to say: “I told you so”, where pessimism takes over. The sudden stiffening of security measures -most probably prompted by the May 15th daring picnic project around the Temara security compound- may well be a turning point in the extraordinary times our domestic politics is living through. I have this strange image on my mind of the security apparatus behaving like a wild beast, a bit intimidated by demonstrations on February 20th (and those following on March 20th and April 23th) and definitely entrenched in a hostile defence. But when demonstrators wanted to picnic outside the Temara compound (dumbed Guantemara) the security services’ own lair, the latter stroke back, with their customary violence.

The Dark Side of the (Police/Merda/CMI) Force is taking over, and the Temara headquarters is their Death Star.

Two events put security forces back into the limelight, namely the Marrakesh bombings and the Temara affair. It is basically a sequential, repeated chicken game between the movement and the authorities: at every stage of this process, Feb20 chose the radical outcome, and one way or the other, got away with it. The first stage was the demonstration itself. Regime made some incredible threats, but the demonstration took place nonetheless. Then after the King’s Speech on March 9th, authorities approached the movement for a possible negotiation on the constitutional reforms, they refused to be associated with the commission; At every stage, Feb20 forced the outcome and turned the tables. But the successive blows these last weeks ring out as a recovery of old stick-and-stick policy our security people have been trained and educated for. As a matter of fact, planned demonstration next Sunday, May 29th are going to determine the movement’s next course of action.

If they fail again to mobilize enough people around Morocco, then our Evolution -in contrast with Revolutions in other parts of the MENA region- is likely to be a short fuse, and the Silent Majority, those who do not demonstrate every week, might well slip back into political apathy. This is even more crucial when considering that the movement does not have the power to set the agenda, the King does. And now time is in favour of the constitutional reform process as designed and prepared by Royal advisers; The margin shifts back to the Empire, and the Rebels are so pressed for time.

Referendum day is now scheduled July 1st. This is the only public date available (with no official confirmation yet) and was leaked to the general public, probably as a heads-up to some move in the coming month (June?) on May 18th Khalid Hariry MP mentioned the date on his twitter feed

Proposition Min. Interieur aux partis: “referendum 1 juillet, législatives 7 octobre” ouverture parlement 14 octobre

Mr Hariry may be just an ordinary Member of Parliament, but his social media activism (there aren’t much Moroccan ministers and MPs on twitter, or posting on their personal blogs around) is a convenient way to get the message out about the hidden agenda -first rule of Moroccan politics, the authorities always have a hidden agenda. This is not paranoia, it is only empirical observation. So the Interior Minister tells the MPs that referendum day might be on July 1st, with General Elections on October 7th, and most probably the new parliament in session for October 14th. That means high up, there is confidence these elections will yield some strong majority, or that party leaders will be amenable to any deal presented to them for some government coalition; better still, the old line of ‘national unity’ government following the new constitution might be appealing to mainstream political parties and large scores of Moroccan public.

This ‘rumour’ (there is no official communication about it yet) has also been mentioned by TelQuel Magazine mentioned on their edition May 19th-20th (about the same day) that the Commission has been asked to make haste on their draft:

Dernière ligne droite pour la Commission consultative pour la révision de la Constitution (CCRC). Le cabinet royal aurait demandé à la Commission d’accélérer la cadence afin de rendre sa copie, avant la fin du mois de mai, au lieu de mi-juin. En parallèle, les listes électorales sont en cours d’actualisation dans la perspective du référendum.

So we might be expecting some news on the issue by the end of this week, most likely early June. Are these good or bad news? From the dissidence’s point of view, this is disaster. Because everyday Referendum day gets closer, and when Moroccan citizens go to the polls and vote massively in favour of the proposed draft, then Feb20 movement will lose one of its remaining legitimacies, i.e. a certain representation among the people.

Repression is still there, and kicking. More than ever. (Pic from Demain Online)

I have disillusioned myself quite early on the outcome of this referendum. What I can hope for, on the other hand, is that the combined numbers of boycott (or blank votes) and the ‘No’ Vote would be large enough (say at least 30% of total electoral corps) to build up on a civic platform that would wage large demonstrations from time to time, perhaps venture to publish some alternative proposals, until it forces another reform, this time more amenable to its own agenda. As for the possibility of a swift political confrontation on July or September, or the likelihood of a mass boycott, I foresee it to be very unlikely.

I also keep thinking about the following scenario: the latest declarations of our own Ron Ziegler, Mr Khalid Naciri (Communications Minister and government spokesman) are very worrying, because the explicit criticism made on the May 23rd demonstrations was that Al Adl and Left-wingers (he did not specify which ones, certainly not his own PPS party) manipulated the youth, and were also guilty of their lack of patriotism. After his blunt denial of any torture infrastructure at the Temara Compound, Minister Naciri only confirms his favourite line, which brands dissidents and ‘nihilists‘ as potentially traitors to the nation and fully-paid foreign agents.

When one considers the previous referendums, the late King Hassan II resorted more than often to this ‘Patriotism’ line (this seem to confirm what S. Johnson said about scoundrels and patriotism) to appease opposition parties and elicit their support for his constitutional projects. Istiqlal was more than often ready to do his bidding, but overall Koutla parties held steady, especially on the 1992 Referendum, but not so much on 1996. The subsequent Alternance was also the result of this alluring proposal to save the country. Former Prime Minister Abderrahamane Youssoufi -as well as his USFP party- still justify their compromise by stating that “Morocco was in danger“. All elements indicate the same old tricks will be used and followed by the gullible.

It’s a bit overconfident -and peculiar- of the Interior Minister to tell Members of Parliament about the project of holding elections straight after referendum (spare August for a Ramadanesque truce), and even more brazen, to call parliament in session ten days after elections. It means there’s strong confidence a government with a workable majority has been formed, or that the King stepped in and called for a National Unity government (a governmental consensus built around the new constitution, presumably). I don’t know why I keep thinking about this. Perhaps because for many mainstream politicians, Feb20 has shaken their monopoly over partisan politics, so they would only too obligingly gather and denounce the demonstrations as unpatriotic and revert back to the old accusations of  ‘Commies, Atheists, Faggots, Islamists and Pro-Polisario‘.

Because of the security tightening, the old mantra of Fifth Column accusations will be yet again put to use to discredit the movement. Last Sunday, ordinary citizens stood idly by while demonstrators were beaten up. If things do get worse, the young people might be branded as traitors and lose whatever sympathy they might enjoy among the Silent Majority. This June will certainly turn out to be the moment of truth, both for the constitutional reform and Feb20’s future as an alternative movement.

To Boycott, Or Not Boycott, That is not the Question

Posted in Flash News, Read & Heard, Tiny bit of Politics by Zouhair Baghough on May 23, 2011

Yesterday has been a black day. It’s a setback for freedom of expression in Morocco, as for democracy, it has been already compromised by sad omens on the upcoming . In the rarefied circles of power, partisans of brute force seem to have now the upper hand.

A fellow blogger and friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) has recently appraised me of his decision to boycott the referendum. While I respect his stand, I was surprised. Surprised because I know him to be no Annahj, nor Al Adl sympathiser. And even though we disagree on a number of things and issues, we share a certain fascination for economic analysis, so it came as a surprise, when he told me he did not want to register. The explanation of such decision, as well as the methodology, so to speak, astounded me, simply because I have never heard of it.

A thing or two before I elaborate on that: I do not pretend to elicit some generalized pattern from my friend’s resolve not to contribute in any electioneering, nor do I have the pretence to assess the ‘mood of the nation’. This post is merely a pondered response to a hasty argument we had. I do hope there will be some reciprocation, so as to have a comprehensive view of this rather unusual boycott. Blog posts are much better than tweet snaps, I think.

My friend boycotted the registering campaign. I also understood he did not register for past elections (say 2009, 2007 and 2002 at least) so he is, quite simply, not existent as a voter and elector. Paradoxically, his all-out opposition to any kind of ‘compromise’ disenfranchised him. I don’t know if he buys into that idea that civics is a title one works out to qualify for it. but if one abdicates the right to vote, then there isn’t much left out of citizenship and civics, is there?

Worse still, his voluntary disenfranchisement does not hurt the façade of democracy he wants to do away with. Suppose a million potential voters, like my friend, reached the same conclusion, and decided not to register. Out of an electoral corps of nearly 14 Million, that is certainly no big loss. It only means one million less voters, certainly not one million blank votes, or one million-short turn-out. Because he did not bother to register, on the contrary, the yielded result is contrary to his initial aims.

Besides, that all-out opposition is almost farcical. When taken to its logical conclusion, my friend should basically renegade on his Moroccan citizenship. The argument goes as follows: Political ‘game rules’ are so biased I will not soil myself into accepting the rule-maker’s guidelines, so I will step aside. The trouble is, the very same lawmaker edicts game rules in many other ‘games': Why accept the proceedings for ID Card, or Passport? Why did he accept to receive a Scholarship when he was student? Isn’t that an explicit recognition of the lawmaker and their supremacy over game design? And why, if he was so keen not to get involve with these rules, did he accept to submit to Moroccan regulations over one of the most important contracts he would have ever signed up for? The answer, it seems, is transparent: Because he was compelled to do it. Voting is voluntary, and the choice led to what I called ‘intellectual laziness’.

The word is perhaps too strong. Contrary to any stereotyped ideas about it, intellectual laziness is a very logical, very thorough process. It is basically a cost/benefits analysis. His position can be summed up in the following question: “Why bother to vote in a referendum, if nothing new or more congenial to my own definition to democracy comes out of it?”. The cost of registering, campaigning or just trying to link up with acquaintances and convince them to follow suit is time consuming and costly in resources and efforts. Besides, here’s a very simple and cost-free way to rebuke the façade democracy Moroccan regime tries so hard to put on; Low turnout and high blank votes. Better still, define yourself out of that herd-like electoral corps, and break away as a free (wo)man.

This is intellectual laziness because the benefits of staying out of political confrontations (on ideas, projects and ultimately, streets) are overweighted compared to the incurred costs in following a different course of actions. My friend, it seems, does not understand he is, whether he likes it or not, part of Pareto’s “non-governmental elite”. Perhaps Elite embodies too much connotations as a word; Some sort of alternative ruling apparatus. He has a duty not to shrink away from these things;

My criticism -because that’s what it is, though there is no anger behind it- is rooted in the fact his gesture is futile. He wanted to boycott the referendum, but he only managed to mute his own voice by not registering. Others found time to go to the registering booth, put their names down on the list, and vowed, on Referendum Day, not to turn out to vote, or put on the ballot a blank vote. This is real boycott, and the political message carried out has a meaningful impact. A low turn out and/or a high proportion of blank votes is always a slap on the face of our much adorned image of ‘Regional Exception’, and is difficult to spin around as the symbol of contentment among Moroccan citizens. So my friend and colleague not only muted his own voice, but by doing so carried no significant political message to the regime. Not only does he fail to use his citizen right, but he managed to cut himself out of it. It’s mother’s milk for the regime if guys like him do not bother to register altogether, because no one pays attention to the size of electoral votes relative to potential voters. Media attention focuses on turnout and blank votes, nothing more.

I do hope he will reconsider his position; It ‘s too late to register again, but in his own mind, this idea of refusing to have anything to do with the regime as a proof of ‘intellectual resistance’ is adulterated by logical flaws. Whether we like it or not, our political regime is well established and dug in. It has loyalties (paid for or genuine) and has all monopolies of symbolic power. Resistance is not to step aside of the whole structure, but to step in, register and then, following each one’s state of mind, vote in favour, against or boycott the referendum. To refuse the right to vote, on the other hand, has no use.

Wandering Thoughts Vol.11

Posted in Flash News, Moroccan Politics & Economics, Morocco, Read & Heard, The Wanderer, Wandering Thoughts by Zouhair Baghough on April 5, 2011

So that was fun; re-writing the budget I mean. Just as fun as re-writing the constitution. It seems so easy and yet whoever tries to reform the system will either quickly abandon their quest, or get so involved with it till it drains any will to live. That’s the trouble with arch-conservative systems like the Makhzen -and its objective allies.

Obviously, reforming the whole system supposes taking on other organizations, including those supposedly allies of ‘the good cause': trade-union leaders are deep down afraid of any changes that might affect the gossamer balance they achieved, with all the ensuing perks and privileges. Even regular citizens might oppose changes out of fear of the unknown, even though it could bring up benefits in the long run.

A respected opposition politician, even a potential statesman, former PM Youssoufi gave in too much and eventuallycompromised the Alternance experience right from the start

Once my fingers (and my mind) rest from re-designing Morocco according to my taste, I take a step back, talk to a few friends, and then reach that unfathomable conclusion: that’s too much of a ‘all or nothing’ sort of package. The trouble is, any consensual approach, with respect to past experiences in Morocco, has not delivered: negotiations are supposed to get both parties to meet halfway through (or at a certain point depending on how much both are willing to compromise upon) and since 1970 (the day the first Koutla was formed between Istiqlal and UNFP parties) opposition and the monarchy have been at loss to meet some sort of agreement. And when they did sign in on one of those in 1996, it was such a bad deal for democracy that we are likely to pay for it for in the years to come.

That may be an explanation why USFP grandees are so desperate in their defence of ‘the national consensus’. Hunger for power, whatever illusionary (with its nonetheless solid perks) was, it seems, stronger than principles. ‘Human, All Too Human‘ would one say.

Other than that, I remain quite surprised at the way many consider the upcoming constitutional referendum; I wasn’t old enough in 1996 to vote, much less in the previous consultations (not very much born back then) but come one people! those of you who lived through the 1970s and 1990s were certainly aware of the superficial changes the late Hassan II wanted to introduce in order to please his opposition, right? How come the Moroccan people are endowed with such short and bad memory? Can’t they remember a thing 10 or 15 years ago? Is the voice of sanity so much at odds with the bovine -like public opinion? We certainly have a problem with our history, whether ancient or contemporary. That might date back to the school curriculum (where Moroccan history starts off with the Idrisside dynasty and ends up at 1956) or the subsequent punishment upon those trying to demystify our national legends.

That holds for extra-governmental institutions too: left-wingers, USFP, Annahj and others alike, are very jealous of their respective martyrdom. This also might be due to the fact that we have yet to put an effort in establishing an authoritative and neutral historical research – and a whole generation of historians, whatever their inherent talents and academic competency, doesn’t have what it takes; We have yet to acquire a culture of constant archives system -that might change with the internet: for instance, all the 6 volumes of IER findings have been pulled out of their website (I had to bypass this to acquire their pdfs, all 6 volumes of them).

On a lighter -but related- note, the subject of referendum came up during a (pleasant) conversation I had with an acquaintance of mine not so long ago. the said friend (that might be reading these lines) ventured the possibility of a ‘No’ majority (let’s say, a 60-40 against)  the likelihood of such result was, in my mind, so remote, so unlikely, I was taken aback, and actually had to think a while about the consequences before I can reply.

The shortest and most civic word in English language.

Why, a majority of Moroccan people rejecting a Royal constitution! That’s like the end of the world as we know it. Yes, I am aware some (most prominently the MAP news agency) will spin it as a popular refusal for the King to abdicate some of his powers. But whatever way the regime spins it, it will carry such an earth-shattering symbol: the ruled (الرعية) says no the the ruler (الراعي). What will happen then? Well, it’s a bit like science fiction: as long as you keep it likely, anything can happen.

To change the subject completely, I can’t get enough of Anas‘ joke about me if I ever get the finance ministry, and the first enacted policy would be to nationalize the piciri -small shops-. I wouldn’t dare do it, first because I owe it to fellow Soussis shop-keepers  (I’m not Soussi myself, but there is some blood tie in the family, and yes, I am capable of ethnic racism too, why should it be confined to Fassi master race?) and second, because I would have another target on my sights. A much bigger business, one that actually hurts the economy more than anything else.

How about  a temporary nationalization of ONA-SNI, Attijari-Wafa, Ittisalat Al Maghrib, BMCE Capital for a start? I haven’t worked the details yet, but the idea is to nationalize these companies (and others) with or without compensations (IAM might prove to be even a diplomatic problem) pump the cash out of the company and into the public finances for 3 or 4 years, then spend 2 years tops to restructure the companies, break them down into smaller companies and then re-privatize. (a back-of-envelope computation points out to an indicative net yield pre-nationalization of about MAD 20 Billion on banks alone)

Soon the people's property.

Why would one take so much trouble (and show of force) when a court proceeding can do just as well? The aim is symbolic (the money part was there to insure it wasn’t costly to the taxpayer) A radical (or liberal left-wing) government will most certainly be ambushed by big businesses, representatives of the economic Makhzen, and act as a hindrance to the Open Society project. Nationalization is the most straightforward approach to break these monopolies’ backs, and when there’s a sufficient time-lag for this influence to fade away, then normal market conditions can be re-introduced, hence the re-privatization in chunks, so as to induce competition  (and lower prices). The argument these businesses are ‘natural’ monopolies is uncalled for: banking has too high a margin rate (as pointed out earlier on) telecommunications, food supplies and related products empirically thrive in competitive environement rather than oligopolistic or even monopolistic settings.

Monopolists of Morocco, you have been warned.