The Moorish Wanderer

Moroccan Elections for the Clueless Vol.1

From today till November 25th, I will try to post daily facts about elections in Morocco. This is my own contribution to the ongoing debate, and since my party isn’t going to the country, I suppose I am more at liberty in discussing elections in a more dispassionate fashion.

... and only two socialist PMs: one was pushed, the other failed to live up to expectations

Why do we need these representatives in Parliament House? The new constitution theoretically sets us in a different kind of constitutional monarchy: under 1996 Constitution, the Monarch was not under obligation to appoint a partisan Prime Minister, just the same in earlier versions:

1962 Constitution  and following on Prime Minister appointment:

Article 24: Le Roi nomme le premier ministre et les ministres. Il met fin à leurs fonctions, soit à son initiative, soit du fait de leur démission individuelle ou collective.

Article 65: Le gouvernement est responsable devant le roi et devant la Chambre des représentants.

1970 Constitution:

Article 24: Le Roi nomme le premier ministre et les ministres. Il met fin à leurs fonctions, soit à son initiative, soit du fait de leur démission.

Article 59: Le gouvernement est responsable devant le roi et devant la Chambre des représentants.

1972 Constitution:

Article 24: Le Roi nomme le premier ministre et les ministres.

Il met fin à leurs fonctions, soit à son initiative, soit du fait de leur démission.

Article 59: Le gouvernement est responsable devant le roi et devant la Chambre des représentants.

1992 Constitution:

Article 24: Le Roi nomme le premier ministre. Sur proposition du Premier ministre, Il nomme les autres membres du gouvernement.

Il peut mettre fin à leurs fonctions.

Il met fin aux fonctions du Gouvernement, soit à son initiative, soit du fait de la démission du Gouvernement.

Article 59: Le gouvernement est responsable devant le roi et devant la Chambre des représentants.

1996 Constitution:

Article 24: Le Roi nomme le premier ministre. Sur proposition du premier ministre, Il nomme les autres membres du Gouvernement.

Il peut mettre fin à leurs fonctions.

Il met fin aux fonctions du Gouvernement, soit à son initiative, soit du fait de la démission du Gouvernement.

2011 Constitution

Article 47: Le Roi nomme le Chef du Gouvernement au sein du parti politique arrivé en tête des élections des membres de la Chambre des Représentants, et au vu de leurs résultats.

Sur proposition du Chef du Gouvernement, Il nomme les membres du gouvernement.

and when it comes to instances, we have had a plethora of Prime Minister ever since 1955: of all 15 Prime Ministers (leading 26 Governments) only seven were partisan politicians, two were monarchs and the rest were technocrats overseeing transitions or standing for day-to-day politics when some major political deal falls short. And until this election, the Prime Minister had very little legitimacy on and from the benches, including both partisan politicians of the so-called Alternance Consensuelle.

The assumption behind the position of Prime Minister is that some kind of parliamentary caucus is supporting his job (as yet, no woman has been appointed to the position) as in passing the bills he needs to enact, most importantly the budget bill. Throughout the years, parliamentary majorities were there to keep government business out of trouble, the Censure Motion for instance. As a matter of fact, the constitution as always been very ambiguous on the Bicephalous legitimacy the Prime Minister has had to manage up to now: first from the Monarch, who appoints him to form a government in his name, and by popular vote, and that’s where parliamentary majority comes in, and that is pretty much where comparison with genuine parliamentary monarchies, for it is a well-known fact majorities in the house have always been a tricky business, and is most likely to remain so with the new government, although the horse-trading is theoretically supposed to move from mere petty politics to genuine negotiations to insure workable majorities.

Dr Benhima (1967-1969) later on Interior Minister, famously stated: "General Oufkir did not commit suicide"

Prime Ministers’ personalities evolved throughout the years: there were amenable ones, amenable, that is, to opposition and pro-regime parties, and these have been quite useful in times of political strain for instance. And many of these Prime Ministers, supposedly leaders of their governments, often returned to duties at junior levels: Dr Mohamed Benhima, a Prime Minister between 1967 and 1969, returned as State Minister for Agriculture and Agrarian reform in 1970, then as Interior Minister between 1972 and 1973. Another instance of cabinet demotion (so to speak) Ahmed Laraki, Prime Minister between 1969 and 1971, returned as Foreign Affairs minister in 1974-1975. The position of Prime Minister did not come with significant powers, especially when the office holder has to deal with a boss like Hassan II: Ahmed Osman -a former classmate of his and Borther-in-Law- was a notorious Yes-man, as Stephen Hughes and Ignace Dalle reported:

He seldom expressed an opinion of his own, and the only time he said “no” to the King was when he was asked whether he had refrained from using painkillers” (I.Dalle – Les Trois Rois p.394)

So Strong-willed Prime Ministers were actually rare: setting aside the Royals, those who actually had enough charisma to stand up and pursue their own political agenda were both Left-leaning PMs, Abdellah Ibrahim (whose tenure came brutally to an end thanks to then-crown Prince My Hassan) and Abderrahmane Youssoufi (although his legacy has followed a crash-and-burn trajectory very early on) That of course, remains my personal assessment, and I would be happy to discuss the fascinating topic of “who was the best Prime Minister Morocco ever had?”.

The bottom line is, the Prime Ministerial office has been that of an anonymous underling, with little or no margin for manoeuvre, and sense of initiative was certainly not a prerequisite of the job. Is it likely to change with the next election? I submit it is very unlikely. Next piece might deal with some speculation over the next Prime Minister, but so far, party leaders have all pledged their refusal to express any dissent vis-à-vis the Royal will. And that, I believe is not the present constitution’s fault: we have had over the years, a perverse mechanism, by which competent elements are set aside in favour of Yes-men and obedient characters; Of course, nothing is likely to abruptly change, unless – and there comes the backbone of my own views on constitutional reforms- the constitutional framework allocates important powers to the Head of Government, so as first to stimulate political appetites, trigger competition for the fittest. And because there will be no bail-out, political parties would be forced to cast their incompetent elements in favour of others better prepared for actual government. And to do so also requires a strong parliament, with enough prerogatives to nominate and check on a government upon which they bestow genuine confidence.

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  1. […] Moroccan Elections for the Clueless Vol.1 GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_bg", "fff"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_border", "777"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_text", "222"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_link", "004276"); GA_googleAddAttr("LangId", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "flash-news"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "intikhabates-elections"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "morocco"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "read-heard"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "tiny-bit-of-politics"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "ballot"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "elections"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "legislature"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "morocco"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "postaday2011"); GA_googleFillSlot("wpcom_sharethrough"); Rate this: Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailStumbleUponRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Tagged with: Ballot, Elections, Legislature, Morocco, postaday2011 […]

  2. Beatris said, on May 6, 2013 at 15:23

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