The Moorish Wanderer

Every Word Means No

It’s a funny business, this constitutional thing. The more one looks at past referendums,the less they would be inclined to give it a chance as a pro-democratic move.

It is true we had some 5 major constitutional amendments (including the very first 1962 constitution) and yet we got stuck with the same old farandole: the King has it all, his powers derive from positive law (and the executive body in residence) and spiritual legitimacy (as the Commander of the Faithful in a De Jure Islamic community). And no matter how hard one tries to prove that such exaggerated concentration of powers is incompatible with basic democratic principles (as well as a gross distortion of Moroccan political history) the story goes unchallenged. Only a small core of resolute radicals gainsay the Regal supremacy, either on the premises of religious misgivings, like Al Adl, or because it contradiction a secularist and democratic values upheld by left-winger like the Democratic Left (i.e. PSU, PADS, CNI and Annahj parties) and Human rights activists AMDH.

"شعبي العزيز أدعوك لتقول نعم وأنا على يقين ستقول نعم"

Mainstream political parties, whether in government or parliamentary oppositions cosy up to the monarchy by trying to smooth as much as possible their position (if they’ve ever had any) on constitutional powers. Consensus is the word. Cranky, hurriedly patched-up in their defeat and taboo, but a consensus nonetheless.

It would be dishonest of me not to share regular doubts I have on that particular issue of voting. I don’t doubt my intrinsic position (that’s what you usually might expected from stubborn radicals) on voting No; It’s the whole exercise that could be qualified at best as political jocosity, if not outright ridiculous travesty of democratic debate. How can one lonely blogger, an expatriate student on top of it, engage in a confrontation with what is essentially a royal will. It can still be considered a Lèse-Majesté crime to stand up and call for anything else than a ‘Yes’ vote (a ‘No’ or a Boycott are equally an offence).

Will me and my likes be permitted to go on radio and TV to explain themselves freely? Will newspapers’ columns open up for contradictory views? Aren’t we -I assume there’s at least one other person that already made up their mind as well- crossing His Majesty’s will by calling for a different vote? That’s what happens when the constitutional is rigged so as to provide the ruler with discretionary powers. The game outcome is known even before it is played. Why, might one ask, waste time, energy and resources for a lost cause? These are my doubts. Are my actions going to matter?

On a  different subject, the recent interview Foreign Affairs Minister Taib Fassi Fihri gave on France24, as well as his statements in the US are unequivocal: there is a ‘glass roof’ for constitutional amendment, and though many consider this roof to be reasonable, it doesn’t change much then present regime structure; worse, it doesn’t introduce those changes we direly need-and for which serious political parties have been militating since 1962-. These statements also confirm -or at least do reinforce it- the opinion the future constitution has already been written, and the next two months are going to be be there for political theatricals.

The Highest rule of the realm: a devolved Constitution since 1962

The No vote is based on two main and succinct arguments: first, we, as aspiring citizens, have not been consulted on this; The whole matter. Formally, the Highest Authority, according to the constitution, is not the King, but the People of Morocco (yes, it’s crazy, isn’t it?); and in this particular instance (as well as countless others) we have been robbed of our right to look into the amendments before they are cooked up.The same argument applies to the appointed members of the panel; they might be respected scholars in their own right, but Mohamed Q citizen has not been consulted beforehand.

Second, 3 months is deviously too short a period to discuss a seemingly important amendment. Actually, it amounts to even less than that: the commission has 3 months to dream up its recommendations, and in the happy event His Majesty agrees to its output, then immediately put it to the country. Those calling for a nation-wide debate will look like idiots, a new constitution will be voted and this brief interlude of unfettered debate will be closed. There are a lot of assumptions in this scenario, but the fact remains, an ambitious new constitution (that’s the sense it conveyed in the March 9th speech) cannot be wrapped-up in 3 months and voted on the fourth. That’s robbing the Moroccan people from a long-deserved new, actual democratic constitution.

Coming back on the sporadic doubts I have on the whole issue, It’s the expected impact a No campaign might have on the voters, regardless of any parasitical intervention from the Makhzen administration (I know my local Moqadem is a nice man, but if he has orders to dispatch his Mokhaznias, I don’t think I stand much chance to reason with them)

Assuming I would be allowed freely to distribute leaflets in my neighbourhood and engage with neighbours (a genuine democratic exercise, one might point out), how will we affect the final outcome? I am quite disillusioned when it comes to that: the new constitution will pass with a majority, and I have the feeling the size of such a win is going to matter more than its likelihood. I referred before to a vote of less than 80% Yes as a defeat. One of the main features our ‘National Consensus’ tenants like to boast about is that the Throne and The People are of one mind.

How will this square with say, a 30% no? Will the King put to practise the old Malekite saying that goes like: “The Khalifa can do away with the rotten 1/3 of His population in order to salvage the remaining 2/3″?

17 Responses

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  1. Minibixx said, on March 30, 2011 at 18:51

    You’re getting funny by the day, you should really come in Morocco and participate in the debate that’s taking place everywhere since the 9th, on the tv, the radio, in the coffees and in families on a daily basis, some views that are expressed on tv and radio are even more extreme than yours.

    And a lot of people are thinking of voting NO for a completely different reason : Moroccans have so little faith and belief in their local and national politicians (especialy compared to that they have for the King) that if they feel the new constitution give more powers to the government and politicians + limits the kings powers to overview politicians they will oppose it.

    But anyway I haven’t made my mind about the new constitution, but I think you should try to catch some of the ‘live’ debates on radio and tv and have a little more faith and hope in what will be the outcome of these 3 months (I agree it’s short, but the emergency dealing with this issue is due to the 20th february (and arab world revolts combined) effects.

    I’m still positive that a change of constitution was about to happen in the next 2/3 years, the regionalization couldn’t happen without it…

    But the King has listened and answered the best he could (saluted and applauded by almost everyone), he didn’t say it was foreign nations trying to destabilize the country (like Assad, Khadafi, Moubarak etc…), he didn’t say it’s Al Qaeda, he acknowledged the problems, he was courageous and honest in his speech, the moroccan police didn’t react like the ones of the other arab countries involved in revolts, and that was also saluted (except for problems in casablanca and rabat after the speech but had been acknowledged and the wali made official excuses.)

    What’s striking me is how come even after 2 months of watching the arab and middle east world react, how can’t you even see how Morocco stands alone with unique reactions and most of them in a positive way. Even the fact that the King took step to make such a speech (when very very little pressure was actually coming from the streets compared to all the other countries…).

    But then again I’m a royalist and a big fan of our dear Mohamed VI, even more today then a month ago (if that’s even possible…), so I don’t believe we’ll ever see eye to eye but as long as we can share opinions without insulting each other I consider your page a very interesting and open space for confronting my ideas and views to others. (yes I do question my views I don’t think I hold the absolute truth, but today I feel at ease with my position and don’t agree that it has to be because of makhzen propaganda, lack of perspective or because I’m profiting from the system, for me it’s very logic why I’m a royalist…

    • The Moorish Wanderer said, on March 30, 2011 at 20:11

      I’m trying my best to entertain the readers 🙂

      As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a question of loyalty to His Majesty. It’s a question of hierarchy between my aspiring condition of citizen, and my current position as a subject. Which one is to be subordinated to the other?

      Oh, and one other thing: even though I don’t watch TV, I listen to radio stations in Morocco, and sorry, these shows you are referring to are not as numerous as you would like me to think they are 🙂

      Nice of you to stop by, and I do hope you will vote on Referendum Day 😀

    • fawzi said, on March 31, 2011 at 07:56

      You’re a royalist? Good for you, kid! I have nothing against royalists. In fact, they’re a very entertaining bunch.

      But it’s weird that you have to shout it from the rooftops. I mean…it’s not like republicanism is possible as a political movement or even tolerated.

      The way I see it, you’re a royalist because you have no other choice. And to some extent because M6 is not H2.

  2. mouka said, on March 30, 2011 at 20:39

    You smell the makhzenian troller from an ocean away.
    You have the NERVE to claim that people are goign to vote no because they don’t trust the political machine? You have the GUTS to utter such none sense? Allah in3al li maya7esham. Allah in3al li maya7esham, Allah in3al li maya7esham.
    Matat7ashemoush 3la 3aradekoum.

    I am 100% with you brother. I will vote NO, because this constitutional CRAP, not revision, is an insult to our intelligence.
    The constitutional revisions have already been edited in the mechouar, and the council is just for show.
    The king will not willingly give up his prerogatives and powers. Not on his own, he has to be pressured to give up ground.
    As far as I am concerned, the articles that need to be removed:
    1. The king’s personality is sacred. There’s nothing sacred about him, he poops like anybody else. Granted, he has nice johns, but that’s it. Crap comes out of his end just like the rest of us. He bleeds like all of us. He breathes like all of us. I don’t see anything sacred about him. This is an argument that might have worked a long time ago, when most Moroccans were illiterate. It does not work for me.
    2. The article about an official religion for the state of Morocco. States should not have a religion. There should be a clear separation between the state and religion. This is the only way we can preserve individual freedoms.
    3. The king should not get in the business of nominating or supervising the government. Only the Moroccans should elect the government, directly or indirectly, so that the government feels it is accountable to the people. The government now only operates withing the framework and “vision” defined by the king. Once the government is freed from interferences from the Mechouar, then we will make real progress.

  3. Anas Alaoui said, on March 30, 2011 at 23:43

    I liked the “You smell the makhzenian troller from an ocean away.” 😀

  4. MoMo said, on March 31, 2011 at 04:20

    I don’t think that the problem is the constitution. It is a straw man debate. The real problem is law enforcement. Doesn’t matter if we have the best constitution in the world if there is no will or capacity to enforce it. With the current state of the political arena, any democracy will be a disaster whatever constitution we will have.
    I think first we have to enforce existing laws and if we see the need then the constitution will be revised. This top down approach won’t work in my humble opinion but who knows I am just an anonymous commenter in the internet.

    • Minibixx said, on March 31, 2011 at 18:35

      I agree with you, and notice that in the countries having revolts these days, some are monarchies some democracies (fake ones but hey, which in the world is a TRUE democracy…)… The constitution and the political status doesn’t really matter if there is no education, justice and health (which are, I agree, 3 black spots today in Morocco and I sure hope they are the 3 next big issues to be addressed)

      @ Moorish : Yes I will vote after reading what’s being proposed.

  5. mouka said, on April 1, 2011 at 14:14

    Now that we know you are a makhzenien, we don’t care what none sense you come up with.
    A constitution combined with an independent justice will guarantee all the basic freedoms for all.

    • Minibixx said, on April 1, 2011 at 15:09

      who is “we” … I’m sure some people on this page still have a minimum respect for diverging views and opinions, well I hope so anyway.

      And I’m ready to have a tea or a couscous with any of you, you’ll see that I’m just like you guys, I’m not sure how you define a “makhzenien” but I’m sure you would be surprised. Or maybe “makhzenien” is a way of thinking ? I don’t know… you tell me

  6. mouka said, on April 1, 2011 at 20:58

    Just take a good look in the mirror and you will know what a makhzenien is. I guess you see one every morning when you wash your face.
    Another way one can define makhzenien is by how one feels, when one “sees” the king. If you feel a deep joy, and start salivating, and maybe even have a spontaneous orgasm, then you are a makhzenien. If on the other hand, when you see the king make a trip to some god forsaken place, and distribute bowls of harira to some poor souls, and you ask yourself “Why are they wasting 2 million dollars for a king’s PR campain, just to distribute $50 worth of harira to some poor souls?”, if you do, then you have been immunized from the bull crap the makhzen’s propaganda machine is serving us on daily basis.

  7. Minibixx said, on April 2, 2011 at 00:32

    you’re a caricature

  8. Innocent said, on April 2, 2011 at 05:12

    You’re uselessly and unrightfully rude to Minibixx. Actually, I think his argument “people will vote NO to preserve Morocco/the king against the politicians’ incompetence” (or was it malevolence? – this I didn’t get clearly) is quite interesting. For once, a Makhzen supporter proves subtle. This commends respect. I believe M6 didn’t prove a good ruler, 12 years being enough as a test period. But our politicians are on their part truly distressing. Though I pride myself of being a democrat, I have to acknowledge that empowering these folks over the King for the sake of democracy is much of a catch-22 situation…

    … This being said, elaborating on your point leads to a vertiginous paradox: saying NO to the King for his own good. That would be truly fun as an outcome. Empowering profane dumbs over Your holy self? What were you thinking, your Majesty ?!! Your’e sacred, OK, but you’re nonetheless out of your mind! Let us correct your foolishness for the sake of your grandeur :)) Morocco is already deemed a complex country. If the referendum works out that way, we would have overcome ourselves!!

    I consider this sincere nihilism of yours (Allah yedker Si Khalid Naciri bikheir) as a true blessing for the national debate, given its wretched poverty. Thus, I greatly value your ‘no hope’ comments. Yet consider this, brother–I mean, seriously: a less that 70% or even 80% YES victory would be a huge milestone in the people-awakening/sacrality-deconstructing process. I clearly agree with you: this royally cooked constitutional draft will most probably be a joke. Yet a ‘constituante’ there won’t be. Get over it, man–sighing will do no good. Democracy won’t happen over this referendum, as it won’t happen overnight in general. Not only the balance of powers in Morocco is to be profoundly reshaped, but Moroccan mentality has to change as a whole–from submission to holiness crap to understanding of basic democratic values. No other way to get there than a patient apprenticeship. Inflicting a 20 to 30% slap on some sacred face could be a interesting starting point… what do you think?

  9. mouka said, on April 2, 2011 at 12:56

    Here’s what I think. we need to vote NO for this constitutional bull crap. It will be up to the Makhzen to parse the NO, and come up with conclusions.
    I for one think that the only logical conclusion they would reach is that these revisions did not satisfy the demands of the majority of Moroccans. They will then understand that these half baked measures, they used to get with in the past, don’t cut it any more.
    The king has to come down to an earthly place, and give up his bull shit “sacredness”. He is no more sacred than the cows are in India. He is a symbol, and should remain as such. He hoards too many powers for his own good anyway. I am certain he realizes that too. Let him lead a good life, presiding over the religious. He can keep his “Amir Al Mouminin” title, and preside over religious matters. He can control the military. These areas should be set aside for the king to enjoy. His private estate if we can call it that way.
    As for the rest of the matters of the state, he should be completely removed from them. This is the only way we can demand some accountability from our government. The king should not issue any more Dahirs, unless they are related to religious matters.

    • Minibixx said, on April 3, 2011 at 10:32

      A little remark : Cows are very very sacred in India (so your sentence doesn’t really make sense…)

      But for once I agree with you on 1 point:
      I agree the King probably thinks it’s a blessing to give away some or most of his powers (he probably thinks : “finally a little peace of mind for me and my family and more responsability for the government”)

      Have a nice day, I’ll go read the new article now 🙂

  10. Innocent said, on April 2, 2011 at 16:11

    I agree with everything you say but we have different perspectives. You’re focused on what should be, I’m concerned with what can be

    • fawzi said, on April 3, 2011 at 10:21

      Then it’s not a matter of perspectives. It’s a matter of expectations. And yours are so low that you might as well call Moroccans a good-for-nothing bunch!

      The same shtick was spewed by pro-segregation people throughout the 60s, pro-Apartheid people throughout the 80s, pro-Mubarak people in January, etc…

      The oldest trick in the book for the cornered status-quo defender, is to claim no value judgment nor involvement in ethics.


  11. mouka said, on April 3, 2011 at 15:48

    I guess you didn’t get my point.
    I said he is no more sacred than are the cows in India.
    The whole world eats cows, and enjoy eating them, but the Hindous decided to make them “sacred”. So their (the cows) sacredness is nothing inherent. It’s just a group of people that have decided they are sacred. The same applies to YOUR king. His sacredness is nothing but a self-proclaimed “quality”. There is nothing inherently sacred about him. The article in the constitution that mentions this sacredness is at best laughable.
    You have to start opening your eyes, and stop listening to the makhzen propaganda. It will save you from getting brain cancer.

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