There Is No Alternative… and a U-Turn is no alternative, either
Did you see the picture? Meryl Streep bears striking similarities with the Iron Lady, and I am looking forward to the movie. But that is another matter. What I want to post about is Constitutional Reforms. “Oh, that old pensum”, one might think, that pops around when the left-wing radical has no other idea to discuss. Yes but this time, it’s real politics. And perhaps the chance for the monarchy to choose a different course of action.
It is rumoured, more and more insistently too, that there is a constitutional reform in the offings. The wires might be crossed, but it seems now -and I thank Annouss for this idea- that the new frontier for constitutional change is the extended de-centralization, a devolution as it were, that would end once for all the Sahara problem, and at the same time square the last advocates for real constitutional reforms. The Modus Operandi is still unclear, and the most moderate among the pro-reform radicals are gambling on that to take away the maximum amount of reforms, which ranges from an upgrade version of the 1997 de-centralization bill, to a full, federative monarchy, which would be not only a breakthrough in the MENA region, but would even set the standards in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
To put it bluntly, this regionalism stuff could be either a bitter disappointment or an unexpected stunt. It is high time M. Azimane presented His Majesty, and the nation, with his findings, so that the officials can proceed with the process. (come to think of it, His Majesty might have already received the report…)
Unless the recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, most likely in Yemen or even neighbouring Algeria were putting off the officials from implementing the reforms, for fear it might be construed as panicky concession, thus furthering public thrust for more freedom. The slippery slope, they would argue. (From now on, I’d refer to the officials in charge of policy-making as “the top brass”, just a matter of convenience) Perhaps 2012 is the new deadline; Constitutionally, the King is entitled to call off elections when sees fit -and that resulted in a brawl in the 1980s when rebellious USFP Members of Parliament refused the Regal decision- but still, it would be construed as a cooling-off period for a great design that, in the top brass’s view, should not be sullied by electoral process. Who knows how these people think… (Note: again if they recruit brainy people to sort out the policies, I may be interested… )
Let’s cast aside the prepared February 20th demonstrations and the frenzy of the half-witted ranting tediously against them. Tabula Rasa, ok? I understand my approach is somewhat flawed; Political science and real-life politics do not work like economics. There is no point in trying to isolate effects; This approach however, allows to consider the constitutional reform in a broader sense. As a principle. And when time comes, I’d try to link it up with the current events. First, by conventional standards, it has to be agreed that the current constitutional set is not democratic: the monarchy is constitutional, but the constitutional is not democratic. And the press, as well as the public should do away with the rather cheap argument that ‘our neighbours are worse’. Because it contradicts the other popular argument ‘Morocco is different’. In any case, Morocco might end up in the stead of East Germany: late 1980’s, Erich Hönecker was adamant East Germany already had its Glasnost, and yet, it was the first country on the iron curtain to come tumbling down. Not that I see any parallelism between the MENA region, Morocco on the one hand, and East Germany and Eastern Europe on the other, but I’d broach the top brass to think twice before claiming -or getting their puppets to do so- that Morocco have already implemented its reforms, and that it might not go further.
Going back to the constitutional reform; It is now obvious that not only the reform is necessary, but it is officially considered as a ‘political correct’ kind of political claim, and that even the top brass is getting amenable to the idea. The vehicle to achieve this reform is of course the regionalization card, the last one the official line claims to be the last piece in the grand democracy Morocco is enjoying. The recent troubles are just putting the implementation of such reforms off.
What does the man in the street thinks? Not much perhaps. He or She are more anxious about rising prices -a possible trigger for social unrest- and the immediate measures the government takes to defuse any possible crisis. Plus word have been put on not to antagonize the regular demonstrators. To be ‘nice’ to the underdog for fear they might turn berserk and spark the much feared riots. But then again, the more ostentatious these policies are publicized, the more conspicuous the top brass look in their inability to come up with a more long-term, sensible solution. Unless they would prepare for a stunt in 2012.
So 2012 could well be the constitutional year. A word of caution though: whatever the decision they would come up with, there is a high probability I would find it to be half-backed. Too shy in reforms at best. So I am speculating on 2012 as the possible turning point for the speculation’s sake. So, 2012, instead of delivering an election, would give us a Royal Speech arguing for wide-ranging consultations that would eventually lead to a constitutional referendum on the new de-centralization. The centrepiece would be devolved assemblies with relatively extended powers. A good move to strengthen local democracy, and in the Sahara, undercut separatist claims (an even bolder move is to appeal to Polisario to join in and run these assemblies from within Moroccan sovereignty). In any case, it’s going to be wait and see for 2012: either an election or a constitutional referendum (or both !)
The trouble with such promising perspective, is that it is the final frontier. There is nothing beyond this ultimate set of reforms. The finally final concession -and even yet another harvest of ex-left wing radicals turned zealots for the regime. The question remains: can the regime afford to duck pressing institutional calls for reform by pulling together a half-backed reform? The writings’ on the wall. And failure yet again might just feed growing resentment and increase the likelihoods of a disastrous outcome sensible minds would not contemplate for Morocco.