16 – 12… Why Not 7?
503 days since our new (in)glorious constitution has been voted overwhelmingly, and no word as yet as to the dozen of bills essential to make it work have been presented before parliament. Our elected representatives have not the foggiest about what perhaps may be the most important pieces of legislation since 1997 (Bill n° 47-96).
It is sad that for two major decisions, the first in January 2010, and the second in another speech in July 2011, the legislative process did not follow suit. Regionalization is just as important as the constitution itself. Either Morocco chooses to devolve as much power as possible to local and regional bodies, or the same old mistrust and latent hostility will prevail between the citizens and their elected representatives, local or national, all of which is at the expense of democracy, and only encourages Moroccans to seek other sources of unelected, crypto-autocratic power.
The Regionalization commission set up after the Royal speech three years ago came up with a rather peculiar proposal for 12 regions – since I am no expert in all the aspects involved in their offer for that particular proposal, I should refrain from commenting on it; Although, I must point out regional GDP is likely to be more dispersed and more unequal – in fact, save for Casablanca-Settat and Rabat-Salé-Kenitra, a 1% increase in regional density per capita in the new setting actually decreases regional GDP per Capita by 3% (the newly redrawn Southern regions are actually worse off) a pure economic analysis means these redrawn regions will only increase dispersion in population density and wealth per capita – even as provincial output is relatively well distributed – most provinces add up 116.5 Million dirhams to their GDP when their local population increases 1%. But this is only possible if the aggregate regions even growth out, instead of concentrating high-growth sources and leave hinterlands to fend for themselves.
(one small digression perhaps: I was looking at a pre-1870 Germany map to illustrate my point; the present Bundeslaenders vs the fractured old Holy Roman Empire.Quite an illustrative example as to how historical particularism can be dealt with in devolution schemes)
Here is a proposal for a much more reduced-form (and arguably, fairer) regional breakdown that would perhaps serve local democracy, and representation at the federal (or national) level. 7 Regions, with relatively homogeneous cultural and historical roots, not to mention some measure of economic fairness – the proposed scheme reduces regional GDP dispersion by 31% compared to the scheme put forward by the Royal Commission. It also serves as a spring-board for another project many have lost interest in: Electoral reform for strong parliamentary majorities – and thus, stronger elected government.