Good Ole’ Tricks
I do feel like an idiot just right now.
Basically, the Diaspora vote is going to be lower than expected. It so happens the registering period closes on Friday 20th May (I doubt the consulates open on a Saturday 21st, even for an important matter such as the constitutional referendum) while it was “officially” announced on May 11th. I used brackets because as far as Moroccan embassies’ websites are concerned, there is a worldwide disinterest in the matter. Latest news on these sites, the glorious autonomy plan for the Sahara dispute. Lots of water went below the bridge, and yet the news for embassies got stuck on triviality (yes, the autonomy plan is a triviality unless a referendum is carried out in order to confirm the power transmission to the new autonomous Saharan authorities)
I thought it was my own negligence that prevented me from inquiring about the registering process, but it was not. On May 11th, I had to go to the consulate, so I can renew my passport. At the end of the procedure, I asked the clerk there whether I can also register for the referendum. His bewildered look told me that no instructions were passed on to the consulate personnel on the matter: “I don’t know about it” he told me. For the record, the registering “campaign” has started on May 7th, and is to end on May 21th. Even for Moroccans living in Morocco, it is too short a time period to register for the referendum (for those who are first voters or moved in between elections). The Diaspora it seems, has been given only 10 days to register and get their things together. 3 Million Moroccans, about 12% of total potential votes, cannot on a 10 days’ notice, register for a consultation we did not have the opportunity to vote on since 1996.
Let us check what Consulates and Embassies display in their news feed:
May 15 & 16, 2011, INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM
2,000 YEARS OF JEWISH LIFE IN MOROCCO: AN EPIC JOURNEY
Click here for more information
The Consul General of the Kingdom of Morocco in New York is pleased to announce that the deadline to apply for the new Moroccan ID (the CNIE) is December 31, 2011, and to urge those who have not yet applied to either come to the New York Consulate General, or visit one of the closest locations of the Mobile Consulate to their place of residence
Moroccan Pianist Marouan Benabdallah in Concert, Thursday, May 26, 2011, 8:00 pm
Marouan Benabdallah, part of the new generation of emerging Moroccan pianists, makes his U.S. debut at Carnegie Hall. With a thoughtful approach to classical western music cultivated at the Béla Bartók Conservatory and the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, Benabdallah’s international career began in 2003 following his success at the Hungarian Radio Piano Competition and his winning the Andorra Grand Prize…
Click here to learn more
Sa Majesté le Roi réitère son ferme engagement à donner une forte impulsion à la dynamique réformatrice profonde en cours
Rabat- SM le Roi Mohammed VI, que Dieu L’assiste, a réitéré, mercredi 09 mars, dans un discours à la nation, son ferme engagement à donner une forte impulsion à la dynamique réformatrice profonde en cours, et dont le dispositif constitutionnel démocratique constitue le socle et la quintessence…….. [Lire..]
Réforme constitutionnelle : Le Président M. Nicolas Sarkozy félicite Sa Majesté le Roi
Rabat, 10 mars (MAP) – Le président de la République française, M. Nicolas Sarkozy, a félicité jeudi SM le Roi Mohammed VI, au lendemain de l’annonce par le Souverain d’une réforme constitutionnelle profonde……. [Lire..]
La France salue un discours royal “majeur” annonçant des réformes “déterminantes”
Paris- La France a qualifié de “responsable”, “courageux” et “majeur” le discours prononcé mercredi soir par SM le Roi Mohammed VI, saluant les reformes constitutionnelles “déterminantes” annoncées par le Souverain, a déclaré jeudi le Quai d’Orsay…… [Lire..]
Visite à Paris de M. Saad Hassar
Paris, 27 avr (MAP)- M. Saad Hassar, Secrétaire d’Etat auprès du ministre de l’Intérieur, en visite mercredi 27 avril 2011 à Paris, a été successivement reçu par M. Henri de Raincourt, Ministre chargé de la coopération auprès du ministre d’Etat, Ministre des Affaires étrangères et européennes, et M. Clacudie Gueant, Ministre de l’Intérieur, de l’Outre mer, des collectivités territoriales et de l’immigration….. [Lire..]
These two instances (you can always check with other embassies and consulates, the announcements on their websites are outdated and certainly bear no mention to the referendum) Furthermore, I can assure the readers that for at least one consulate, there was no public display of any administrative letter regarding the organization of registering campaign (as of May 11th). None whatsoever. Consulate personnel were as in the dark as we were.
Edit: The Moroccan Consulate in Paris displays today (May 19th) an announcement for the registering process and its extension till May 31th 2011.
I wish it was just an incompetent civil servant who forgot about it and did not send the administrative form to embassies. I really wish it was so simple. But it seems the old tricks are back: This is, quite simply, good old gerrymandering at the expenses of the one Moroccan community whose vote is difficult, almost impossible to ‘control’: the Moroccan diaspora, wherever it is, can vote on Referendums, and that constituency is particularly contumacious, or at least unpredictable in its voting pattern.
I though the referendum was too important not to associate the Moroccan Diaspora to the process. I thought Moroccans abroad were given the same rights; They certainly have the same obligations and do after all share with their fellow citizens the green-ish ID card and full-green passport. It is already a humiliating punishment not to vote for representatives during legislatives and local elections, so to be the victim of such backstabbing processes of disenfranchising likely voters is not only anti-democratic, but it confirms the authorities high-up, very high-up indeed, fear an unlikely outcome, one that might tip the balance in favour of the No Vote. Because there is no legal or constitutional minimum requirement for the turn-out, the only variable they need to keep at a minimum is the No Vote.
Basically, there is no particular political message carried out in boycotting, because a Yes Majority will carry the new constitution, no matter how low the turnout was. Boycott and laziness cannot bifurcate, and so the only political powerful message sent to the regime is to refuse the new constitution and force a new deal where the Moroccan people would be closely associated with the process of re-writing the 1996 constitution.
I mentioned the word gerrymandering. It is. Absolutely is: there is no constituency boundaries when it comes to referendums, direct democracy is plain arithmetics, the objective is simply to take over a majority of votes. Sadly enough, the Moroccan diaspora, in France, Spain, Netherlands or the Italy are not an aggregate of Moroccan citizens whose votes are just accrued to the overall voting turnout: polling stations, i.e. consulates or embassies, are often located far away from their homes; they need to take a day off in order to perform their civic duty. To add yet another hardship to sacrifices they would have consented out of patriotic or civic sentiments is not only a slap in the face of their commitment for democracy, but it also shows the regime does not trust citizens it cannot control or check on.
It shows the old authoritarian reflexes and behaviour did not fade away, but show surprisingly robust recovery.
I got lucky: I registered in 2007 for the general elections, and I will be spending most of September (the likely date for the referendum) in Morocco, so I can and am going to vote there. But for first-time voters, or those who will be in their host country, and couldn’t register in time, their voices will be lost. Muted. Is this democracy? Does it square with that brazen line that ‘All is Well in Morocco?‘ Because we have reached very quickly the boundaries of this farcical democracy.
So, dear fellow expatriates, think of that: a constitution is on the making, it may close down an unprecedented period of liberated free speech, and the worse thing is, you may not have a say in it because, quite simply, you missed the deadline.