Moroccan Elections for the Clueless Vol.7
A little-known party (for the younger generation, anyway) plays an important role in the A8 Alliance, an establishment party with a very good chance to go back into office, although with junior positions, compared to the portfolio it held some 30 years ago.
the Union Constitutionnelle (UC) is one of these administrative parties created conveniently to deny the Koutla opposition any chance to take over parliament and government. After all, UC party was dubbed “Parti Cocotte-Minute” (pressure-cooker party) as it was founded April 1983, contested local elections in June 1983 and got a plurality of votes in the general elections of September 1984. And ever since then, their caucus has retained a respectable number of representatives; In 2007, they pulled off about the same number of representatives as USFP did (not a very flattering comparison for the left-leaning party)
But the trademark of this obscure party remains its almost brazen embracing of Neo-conservative, right-wing economics right from day one. During its first convention, the ground rules of its self-proclaimed ideology had been laid out, especially in its economic manifesto: State property (SODEA and SOGETA, mainly) of farmlands needs to be divested by leasing them to farmers and sometimes to cooperatives. UC was also the first party to push for privatization to roll back state intervention in output production, a lighter fiscal apparatus for everyone and developing private financial institutions. And its staunch commitment to right-wing economics is somewhat at odds with the self-proclaimed left-of-centre stance from its senior partner, the RNI; but on policies and broad ideological lines, both parties are a perfect match. So perfect that they have managed to strike a deal in merging their representatives into one single caucus (RCU) even though one party is in the opposition and the other in government.
Although UC has not been directly involved with privatization policies that have started with the 1990s, the subsidy lift on some strategic goods that triggered bloody riots on June 1984 happened under UC founder and grandee, the late Maâti Bouabid. Incidentally, his background, as well as the connotation behind the party’s name, where a bit of a pied-de-nez to the socialist opposition (at that time, USFP has taken over from UNFP a long time ago) with an emphasis on established institutions (namely the 1962 constitution and its subsequent reforms of 1971 and 1972). Mâati Bouabid was also UNFP Representative to Casablanca in the 1963 Parliament, as well as the city’s first head of local council.
Though Bouabid’s death in 1997 has brought the party into political obscurity, the A8 Alliance could well be an opportunity for Mr Abied, UC Leader, to add one last line to his public service résumé by holding a second ministerial position after 1992 (Social Affairs and Traditional craftsmanship minister) before retiring from politics.
Just like Independents-turned-RNI in 1977, UC candidates wiped the floor with the whole political spectrum by capturing 55 seats in the general elections, and some 1.1 Mln votes. With indirect-ballot elections, the 83-members strong UC caucus fielded a healthy house majority of 27.6%, about the same number of seats RNI and PND carried after the election, and way before the Koutla (USFP, Istiqlal and PPS) And that decline referred to earlier on is not such a dramatic one, all things considered: the arithmetic of parliamentary caucuses establishes a certain threshold when it comes to “hizbicules” and “mainstream parties”; so far, with the UC caucus ranging from 49 seats in 1997 (7 less than USFP) and 27 in 2007 (6 less than USFP) figures that still make UC look like a mainstream party, albeit in a state of discrete opposition.
Why care about this party? One might think the alliance is not likely to stand the ensuing political horse-trading that follows election results (unless they have already agreed on who gets which ministry, which brand of car, etc.) but, if the RCU is in charge of the economic strategy, both UC and RNI have the credentials, as well as a respectable record in implementing right-wing, unpopular, trickle-down, voodoo economics, that is, slashing taxes for the rich, freezing and cutting front-line services at the expense of a majority of citizens… The nasty coalition is back.