The Moorish Wanderer

New Constituency Seats for Parliament

Looking at the returning results from General Elections in the United Kingdom, I was interested in the idea of ‘University Constituencies‘ where seats are not particularly allocated on a geographical basis, and what is more important to my mind, targeting a particularly homogeneous but ultimately illusive electorate.

As numbers stand now, first-time voters are at dangerously low levels, both as a percentage of total registered voters and in their respective cohort. The danger being, short of a profound reform of electoral rolls, an increasing trend in disenfranchising voters, thus subverting the electoral process and the very idea of representative democracy. The fact the ruling party in the current coalition government has seemingly dropped their support for electoral reform has pretty much precluded any push for renewal in the electoral rolls. Recent comments from the Interior Ministry suggest little or no change should be expected on that front.

As it stands now, the Moroccan parliamentary system exhibits a two-tiers system in its upper house: 305 members of parliament are elected on the local ballot, while 90 are selected on the basis of national results, 60 seats of which are allocated to female-only lists, and 30 for de facto young (under 40) males. Yet these members do not have a constituency, which is both a blessing and a curse: on the one hand, they are free to pursue whatever cause they fancy with no fear of backlash from their hypothetical voters, but on the other hand, they are beholden to their party leadership, for fear of being deselected, or worse still, put at the bottom of the party list, where there is little hope of taking up a seat.

There is also the apropos argument these elected representatives are not “full” members has they do not have a mandate: a recent opinion handed down by the designate constitutional court, striking down the provision of a Women’s Caucus suggests otherwise, since their argument was based on the fungibility of members of parliament, i.e. they are not subject to community allegiances whatsoever. The same line motivated another opinion on the continuity of government as well.

Members of the Court have honoured the French tradition of their curriculae, since by denying the individual qualities of each of the 395 members of parliament, they assert the idea of a homogeneous nation, whose representatives are no longer bound to the local constituencies that got them there. I fear this view is widely shared across the political spectrum, and does weaken the reformist claim many (including political opinions I am partial to) herald as their own.

Let us go back to the idea of university constituencies: obviously the first order of business in parliamentary reforms is to reduce the number of seats, so as to flatten regional discrepancies: sparsely populated areas tend to be allocated more seats per capita than, say metropolitan regions, which gives undue advantage to some parties and candidates, as well as produce counter-intuitive results, for instance during the 2007 elections, where PJD had a slight advantage over the Istiqlal on the popular vote, but was eventually a good dozen seats behind.

Seat allocation does not seem to obey a specific, let alone transparent rule: on the eve of each general election, the same ballet is performed by the Interior Ministry, in charge of rewriting electoral regulations, and political parties, each with grievances that often translate in patchy compromises the current ballot system does nothing to alleviate: as a result,  there is virtually no chance one party could get hold of an absolute majority and form a government on their own.

Nonetheless, a simple rule can be adopted for all future distributions of seats, the statistical distribution of voter registration allocates seats per province, with a minimal number of two per constituency, historically close to 43.000  per seat. This system has the benefit of reducing the local-ballot seats by 51 seats, distributed as follows:

Region 2011 Seats Reform Uni Seats Net Change
Casablanca 34 28 2 -4
Chaouia 19 15 1 -3
Doukkala 18 10 1 -7
Fez 20 17 2 -1
Gharb 18 17 1 0
Guelmim 10 10   0
Laayoune 5 4   -1
Marrakech 28 24 1 -3
Meknes 17 15 1 -1
Oriental 23 18 1 -4
Ouad Dahab 8 8   0
Rabat-Salé 24 19 2 -3
Souss 28 27 1 0
Tadla 16 12 1 -3
Tanger 25 20 1 -4
Taza 12 10   -2
Total 305 254 15 -36

Densely populated regions lose comparatively fewer seats compared to Southern and rural regions, but the results greatly reduces discrepancies of past elections. Furthermore, in the context of a first-past-the-post system list, the requirement of having at least a female candidate for all competing candidate list ensures a minimum 92-strong female caucus, a 36% female representation, double the current 17%, and in line with female labour participation.

The younger generation also need not be granted a quota: university constituencies can serve the double purpose of expanding the electoral roll, as well as provide voting incentives to an otherwise disaffected population: there are about 600.000 Moroccans registered at universities, vocational/occupational schools,  institutes and other high-education facilities, many of whom far from their home towns. Also, instead of having 30-odd members with no fixed constituency to answer for, the Moroccan youth will have a chance to elected their representatives on their own terms and rights. As a result, Parliament would look radically different:

Parli_Pie

the number of sitting members would be cut from 395 to 269, with 15 University Seats, and at least 92 Female seats, since nothing precludes female university candidates, or winning lists with more than one female candidate.

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Nous ne Voterons plus. Nous n’existerons plus?

Je lis avec attention que les manifestations organisées suite au #DanielGate représenteraient une résurgence de la vraie société civile, celle de citoyens prêts à quitter les milieux virtuels pour porter haut et fort leurs revendications. Je ne sais pas si c’est le cas, je ne sais pas non plus si cette mobilisation a vraiment réussi à réaliser cet objectif. Ce que je sais cependant, ou en tout cas ce que les projections démographiques du HCP indiquent, c’est que la mobilisation-type portée par une jeune génération chante peut être son chant de cygne.

Demography_AJJe commence par un graphe représentant la population des 18-24 ans versus le reste de la population adulte (âgée de 18 ans et plus) on voit ainsi que la taille maximale pour la population jeune aura atteint son zénith en 2012, et ne fera que décroître en valeur absolue et en pourcentage de la population adulte. Cela signifie que nos adultes marocains seront de plus en plus âgés, et de même, la composition du corps électoral s’en ressentira.

J’ai évoqué il y a quelques temps une piste de réflexion concernant la baisse brutale de la taille du corps électoral entre 2007 et 2011 (en réalité, dès 2009) et l’explication démographique semble être convenable: certes, ce n’est pas la première fois que le nombre d’électeurs enregistrés baisse (Cf 1984) mais la ‘disparition’ en deux ans d’un peu plus de 2 millions d’électeurs laisse perplexe, et suggère les théories les plus fantaisistes, nourries par l’opacité maintenue par l’administration en charge de sa gestion, le Ministère de l’Intérieur.

Mais enfin, Nous pouvons montrer sous certaines hypothèses que cette baisse du nombre d’électeurs est due à un non-remplacement des générations passées. En recalculant le taux d’inscription de la population adulte, d’abord sur la base d’une moyenne annuelle mobile, ensuite en faisant de même pour la contribution théorique moyenne de la population jeune dans la croissance de la population inscrite. La principale hypothèse qui justifie ce choix est de supposer que le même nombre de jeunes intégrant la population adulte s’inscrit aussi sur les listes électorales. Il s’avère ainsi que:

1/ La population inscrite en 2011 devait s’élever à 16.06 Millions au lieu des 13.42 Millions

2/ Le déficit d’inscrits jeunes dans les listes électorales (la différence entre contribution démographique et contribution électorale) permet d’expliquer une grande partie de cette baisse du nombre d’électeurs – près de 93%. Rapporté à la baisse réelle, ce déficit d’inscrits peut être expliqué simplement par le décès d’inscrits âgés.

Et voici donc ce que j’entends par ‘Nous ne Voterons plus’: si la jeune population, celle qui arrive régulièrement en âge de voter la première fois lors des élections, décline, alors le stock du corps électoral sera en déclin, puisqu’ils ne peuvent remplacer le flux d’anciens électeurs décédés. L’amplitude de ce déclin peut ainsi être mesurée par la baisse brutale du nombre d’inscrits entre 2007 et 2009. Cette évolution démographique et électorale est ainsi ignorée et négligée par presque tous le monde: les partis politiques, le Makhzen, et même la dissidence.

La question du corps électoral semble unir le champ politique dans le désintérêt: pour les partis politiques, cette évolution est imperceptible et sans importance car leur stock de loyauté électoral en est indépendant des changements démographiques. Le Makhzen parce que la baisse en nombre du corps électoral augmente artificiellement le taux de participation – le nombre absolu de participants ayant voté pour une liste candidate passe de 4.63 Millions à 4.74 Millions, et cela se traduit par une légère baisse du nombre de votants rapportés à la population adulte (de 28.74% à 28.18%) alors même que le taux de participation a augmenté de 37% en 2007, à 45% en 2011. Et si effectivement la tendance projetée pour le corps électoral suggère une hausse du nombre d’inscrits, ce n’est que par effet de longévité des cohortes inscrites après les années 1960, le pourcentage d’inscrits rapportés à la population adulte passera en dessous des 60% dès 2036.

L'écart croissant entre les deux courbes suggère une baisse du taux de couverture de la population adulte.

L’écart croissant entre les deux courbes suggère une baisse du taux de couverture de la population adulte.

Si effectivement cette tendance se vérifie, alors la charade continuera car le taux de participation, insensible jusqu’à présent aux fluctuations démographiques, sera gonflé artificiellement par simple fait de rétrécissement du dénominateur.

Je me tourne ainsi à la seconde partie du titre: ‘Nous n’existerons plus’ qui est de nature plus qualitative: d’abord parce que notre jeunesse ne sera plus qu’une minorité déclinante chaque année à partir de 2011-2012. Et si un mouvement comme le 20 février a été porté initialement par une jeunesse libre ou aspirant de l’être, son déclin en nombre sape sa force politique potentielle. Ensuite parce qu’une coalition néfaste d’intérêts aura réussi à rendre désormais difficile, sinon impossible de croire qu’une démocratie libérale parlementaire, sous forme monarchique, puise être mise en place dans le futur proche ou intermédiaire.

Cette coalition d’intérêt est celle de l’opposition extra-parlementaire, qui, en observant une tradition de boycott et dénigrement de l’institution parlementaire, de l’exercice électoral parce que contrôlé par l’administration, aura découragé la population en âge de voter pour la première fois et la classe éduquée (minoritaire mais influente) , et ce en conjonction avec l’administration et ses affidés, puisqu’un amenuisement de la population inscrite sur les listes électorales détourne l’attention des partis politiques vers le partage d’une peau de chagrin, au lieu de réclamer une extension de la taille du bassin électeur, au prix d’une baisse permanente du taux de participation.

Nous n’existerons plus car nous ne voterons plus. Par paresse, par désintérêt, par dégoût, probablement. Nos nihilistes et notre Makhzen auront obtenu ce qu’ils voulaient finalement.

Réforme Fiscale: Quand “Elargir l’Assiette et Baisser les Taux” Prend un Nouveau Sens

Le choix des différents taux appliqués à l’Impôt sur le Revenu me semble déterminé plus par un raisonnement juridique qu’une démonstration économique – jusqu’à présent, je n’ai pas eu l’occasion de trouver un document du Ministère des Finances démontrant l’opportunité des choix de taux, ainsi que les revenus auxquels ces derniers sont appliqués. Mieux encore, il n’y a aucune étude publique justifiant de l’opportunité de l’ensemble des dépenses fiscales attachées à l’Impôt sur le Revenu, les exemptions, moratoires et autres ‘aménagements’ fiscaux n’ont toujours pas prouvé leur utilité, ou même l’impact que ces dernières peuvent avoir sur la comportement du contribuable.

Pour se faire une idée de la pression fiscale résultant de l’Impôt sur le Revenu, ses recettes représentent à peu près 3.8% du RNB. Grosso Modo, cela signifie que chaque ménage au Maroc paie près de 4,440 dirhams d’impôt; mais cette approximation rend peu compte de la réalité, puisque de larges populations n’y sont pas assujettis, alors que d’autres paient moins que le montant théoriquement exigible. Il est par exemple tout à fait compréhensible que les 10% des ménages les plus défavorisés soient exemptés d’IR – dû au faible 25,172 dirhams de revenu moyen propre à ce décile- les 10% les plus favorisés disposent d’un revenu supérieur à 427,931 dirhams (mais ne paient pas l’impôt sur le montant intégral); En réalité donc, la pression fiscale réelle sur les revenus est plutôt proche de 3.97%, c’est-à-dire 5,000 dirhams par ménage imposé. Cependant, même ce taux est peu crédible: comment expliquer l’écart important entre le taux marginal théorique de 38% et celui réel, de 1.16%?

L’explication est simple: il y a au Maroc une inégalité importante de distribution des revenus, et le système de taxation actuel ne fait que renforcer cette inégalité, avec un taux effectif plus important sur les classes médianes/moyennes; de plus, il faudra noter que de nombreux ménages disposant d’un revenu agricole important sont exemptés d’impôt, et disposent même d’une subvention fiscale généreuse propre à la source de leurs revenus.

<30,000 per annum: ……………exempté
[30,001 ; 50,000] per annum: ………..10%
[50,001 ; 60,000] per annum: ………..20%
[60,001 ; 80,000] per annum: ………..30%
[80,001 ; 180,000] per annum: ………34%
>180,000 per annum: ………………….38%

Ces tranches de revenus et les taux correspondants sont décorrélés de la distribution des revenus. Les taux à 30% sont par exemple les plus touchés, puisqu’ils correspondent aux revenus des classes médianes, celles touchant en moyenne 75,500 dirhams annuels. Après tout, ce n’est pas la classe moyenne qui saura profiter des différents dispositions du Code des Impôts et faire de l’optimisation fiscale. Ce sont bien les ménages exigibles du taux marginal de 38% qui en ont les moyens, et transforment ce taux en un bouclier fiscal.

Est-il donc possible de créer un système de taxation alternative? Bien entendu. Ce système aura l’avantage d’être simple, progressif (et progressiste) facile à mettre en place et permet de réduire la taille de la bureaucratie nécessaire au traitement des déclarations d’impôts, ainsi que de faire le ménage dans les textes obscurs de loi et des circulaires administratives. Il n’y a qu’un seul point sur lequel la proposition en entier est fondée: les résultats obtenus de la distribution des revenus au Maroc doit être solide et statistiquement robuste. N’ayant pas accès aux données brutes, je baserais mes calculs sur les données publiées par le HCP sur la répartition des revenus en 2009.

la distance entre le revenu du ménage et le revenu médian sert à calculer le taux d'imposition spécifique

Permettez que je commence avec quelques ‘échauffements’ pour illustrer mon opinion. Pour des facilités de calcul, je suppose que la répartition des revenus des ménages au Maroc suit une loi normale avec une moyenne de 114,420 dirhams, et un écart-type échantillonné à 1,474 (la taille de l’échantillon correspondant à 1/1000 ème du nombre des ménages au Maroc, soit 6516) Les calculs sont facilités par les différents propriétés de la Loi Normale (dont la symétrie, entre autres)  ainsi, suivant la distance entre le revenu moyen (et médian) de 114,420 – le taux spécifique exigé du revenu de ce ménage sera calculé sur l’écart-type mesuré. Parce que les ménages aux revenus inférieurs à la médiane paient un taux effectif de 7%, nous nous proposons de générer une distribution normale équivalente N(7 ; 1) pour une distribution normale des revenus N(114,420 ; 1,474)

Nous remarquerons que dans ce cas de figure, les 1% les plus riches, disposant d’un revenu de 117,850 dirhams seront imposé à 9.3%, alors que les classes moyennes, plutôt proches des 114,420 dirhams, ne paient pas plus de 6.9% en impôts. Les revenus de l’IR générés dans cet univers passent donc des 28.96 Milliards prévus dans la Loi de Finances 2012, à 46.82 Milliards, avec une pression fiscale réelle de seulement 6.3% du Revenu National Brut, avec en prime une exemption des 651.600 ménages les plus défavorisés.

Cette augmentation importante des recettes fiscales est essentiellement justifiée par le fait que la distribution des taux coïncide parfaitement avec celle des revenus, permettant à l’impôt d’être plus équitable et plus efficace.

Exemple supplémentaire: un ménage recevant un revenu de 111,000 dirhams  devrait payer 4.68% soit:

w_{t}\pm \alpha_{t}\sigma=114,420

on utilise le coefficient de distance de l’écart-type en calculant le taux d’imposition spécifique:
t_{p}=7\%\pm\alpha_{t}

Un autre ménage recevant 117,000 dirhams de revenus devra payer 8.75%. Simple, rapide et facile à mettre en place. De plus, il est facile de démontrer que sous ce système, les ménages paient un taux effectif inférieur à l’impôt actuel: dans les deux cas, chacun des ménages devra payer respectivement 5,194 et 10,237 dirhams d’impôt, ce qui est largement inférieur à l’IR présent, de 20,450 et 22,580 dirhams respectivement.

(le code source ci-dessous permet de générer un échantillon aléatoire normal de 6,516 ménages)

#Income Distribution
#Phase 1: assume Income follows Normal Distribution
#Sample 1/1000 of total number of Households - HCP Census
n<-6516
I_M<-rnorm(n, mean=114420, sd= 1474)
hist(I_M, prob=TRUE)
quantile(I_M, probs = c(0.01,0.99,0.95, 0.25,0.5, 0.1, 0.05))
Tax_Norm<-rnorm(n, mean=0.07, sd=0.01)
quantile(Tax_Norm, probs = c(0.01,0.99,0.95, 0.25,0.5, 0.1, 0.05))

Cependant, le monde dans lequel nous vivons n’est pas Normé, Centré et Réduit. Il y a de telles inégalités de revenus que le ratio entre les revenus médian et moyen sont de 2 pour 1, un autre indicateur de ces disparités de revenus. J’essaierais donc de prévoir une estimation correcte de la distribution des revenus, en utilisant les Lois de Pareto et Exponentielles, et utiliser les résultats pour donner une estimation des recettes fiscales attendues du nouvel impôt sur le revenu.

Comment sait-on que la distribution des revenus au Maroc suit une loi de Pareto? Premièrement, il s’agit d’observer la fonction de distribution cumulative construite à partir des données publiques de déciles. Le graphe ci-dessous prouve bien que la répartition des revenus au Maroc est très inégalitaire et par conséquent se prête bien à une estimation par la Loi de Pareto.

Parts cumulatives des revenus par déciles (HCP)

L’intérêt de l’exercice est d’utiliser l’information publique sur la part du RNB par décile, et après avoir généré la distribution aléatoire correspondante, et d’y faire correspondre un taux d’imposition continu et discriminatoire – dans le sens où chaque revenu a un taux d’IR unique y correspondant. Tout le monde y gagne, car l’impôt alternatif exerce une pression moindre sur les ménages, mais en même temps augmente les recettes perçues par le Trésor.

Comme les revenus sont extrêmement dispersés (de 25,000 à 427,000 dirhams) nous nous proposons d’utiliser une propriété pratique de la distribution Pareto en utilisant la Loi Exponentielle à la place, car elle permet en effet de représenter plus facilement l’intervalle de revenus disponibles.

Puisque nous considérons un échantillon à 1/1000 de la population totale, le revenu maximum est de 1.18 Million dirhams – le ménage le plus riche dans notre échantillon, pour ainsi dire- et nous vérifions aussi que les “1%” les plus favorisés jouissent d’un revenu d’au moins 520,600 dirhams, illustrant la propriété inégalitaire de la distribution des revenus, dans l’échantillon et dans la population totale.

Enfin, nous constatons que le revenu médian de l’échantillon est de 79,500 dirhams, ce qui donne une bonne approximation du revenu médian réel de 75,500 dirhams.

Le calcul qui suit génère des taux d’imposition suivant une loi Exponentielle correspondante, et donc:

(le code ci-dessous génère un échantillon aléatoire de 6,516 ménages suivant une distribution Exponentielle)

#Phase 2: generation Exponential Income distribution
n<-6516
#Sample as previous: 1/1000 of total number of Households
I_Exp<-rexp(n, rate = 1/114420)
summary(I_Exp)
quantile(I_Exp, probs = c(0.01,0.99,0.90, 0.25,0.5, 0.1, 0.05))
Tax_Exp<-rexp(n,rate=1/7)
summary(Tax_Exp)
quantile(Tax_Exp, probs = c(0.01,0.99,0.90, 0.25,0.5, 0.1, 0.05))

Nous nous retrouvons donc avec des résultats intéressants: les 1% de ménages les plus affluents paient un Impôt sur le Revenu de 31.47%, taux qui reste inférieur au taux nominal existant. Les ménages médians, ceux qui gagnent 79,500 dirhams paient un taux de 4.73%; le même calcul peut s’appliquer à des revenus différents. Pour un ménage touchant 86,000 dirhams, le taux spécifique sera 5.72%. Pour faire le calcul, il s’agit simplement d’observer la probabilité à laquelle un revenu w_{t} puis utiliser la probabilité obtenue pour calculer le taux correspondant dans la distribution générée de l’IR synthétique – et les revenus générés sont tels qu’une exemption des 10% les plus défavorisés est non seulement faisable, mais n’a aucun impact de taille sur les conclusions. Prenons l’exemple d’un ménage touchant 75,500 dirhams; ces derniers paieront près de 4,873 dirhams, un montant inférieur aux 10,325 dirhams qu’ils sont supposés payés sous le code existant. De plus, les ménages les plus fortunés, ceux qui touchent 173,918 dirhams paient près de 10.91% en taux d’impôt, soit 18,978 dirhams, moins que les 41,900 dirhams du Code des Impôts.

De même, les recettes fiscales de ce nouveau système d’impôt s’élèvent à près de 46.4 Milliards, bien plus que les 28.96 Mds du PLF 2012. Encore une fois, la pression fiscale relative au RNB, ou même au PIB n’est pas sensiblement affectée, soit 6.49% en tout.

The Case for Real Partisan Democracy

Posted in Moroccan Politics & Economics, Morocco, Polfiction, Read & Heard, The Open Society Project by Zouhair ABH on January 13, 2012

… and ultimately result in a reduction of the number of parties around.

November 25th General Elections reversed a trend observed since 1997: smaller parties endorse strong candidates for a winning ballot, depriving larger, mainstream parties from bigger caucuses in parliament, and in the process preventing strong coalitions to emerge. The proportional ballot tends to harm larger parties in specific constituencies when a smaller party (usually a breakaway group) manages to capture some votes and thus deprive the bigger party from gaining more seats on district slots.

But during this election, from all 33 competing parties, 18 managed to gain at least one seat, and seven top caucuses concentrate 90.5% of all 305 seats available on local ballot. One of the top seven parties –USFP– concentrates about the same number of seats the remaining 11. Needless to say that this is an improvement from 2007, where the top 7 parties had concentrated only 78% of local ballot seats, while 17 parties (and not 11) shared the remaining 65 seats. By HHI measures, concentration increased from 0.09 to 0.15. In politics, a concentrated parliament delivers stronger -and more accountable- government majority.

One of the reasons why so many parties are around is perhaps the lack of internal democracy within political parties, including those belonging to the historical Koutla; The process described by Abdellah Hamoudi is indeed very current: the leadership, more of an aggregate of father-figures, if not outright proponents of gerontocracy, kick out (or are kicked out of) the younger dissent that challenge their leadership, and these in turns create another party that seeks to capture the disgruntled activists. Post-1956 political history is littered with instances: In 1959, Mehdi Benberka, Abderrahim Bouabid and Abdellah Ibrahim decided to breakaway from the more traditional leadership in the person of Allal El Fassi and Mohamed Boucetta, and go on to found UNFP; Mohand Laenser in 1986 kicks out MP’s elder leader Mahjoub Aherdane -who in turn creates his own MNP party.There are very few instances of political parties with proven record in partisan, internal democracy, and this opacity in selecting political elites has worked as a deterrent to prevent a lot of Moroccan citizens to be involved with politics.Many political scientists however see in Feb20 demonstrations a revival of youth politics, and would be inclined to foresee -and I tend to agree with this view- an imminent renewal in our political personnel.

There is also another institutional roadblock to the revival of “big party politics”: I argue that Koutla parties, weakened by an Alternance Consensuelle they failed to turn to their advantage, fell back on more traditional, Moul Chkara -local notabilities- ton insure their caucus does not wane. USFP and Istiqlal, both electoral juggernauts tend to draw their typical Political Bosses from rural, traditional constituencies, a trend more acutely observable since 1997, where their elected delegations from Casablanca, Rabat or Agadir steadily decreased to marginal results form November 2011. Weakness in internal democracy, once justified by the struggle Koutla parties had to leader against Makhzen-led rival parties (MP in 1957 as a strong rival to Istiqlal, RNI and UC to Istiqlal and USFP, and more currently PAM as an anti-PJD bulwark)

One would think that parties lacking both internal democracy and a reliable stock of local notabilities would eventually die away; UC, while being out of office at least since 1992, still hangs on and manages to produce a decent caucus with the 2011 elections. And yet, they look like a smaller version of RNI: both share a common history of ‘Born To Rule’ kind of party, and their faith in all-out free-market ideology is undoubted.

What I would like to discuss is a two-steps legislation I believe would change the political landscape in a very short period of time: political finances and multi-party membership. I’d better start with the former.

Multi-party membership

as it is now, the law forbids a citizen to accrue membership:

Article 26

Nul ne peut adhérer à plus d’un parti politique

It is very counter-intuitive. How come one individual could be involved with more than one party? And there goes the ‘Moroccan Exception’: Morocco has a multi-party system not out of an inherent and vibrant pro-democracy stance, but because a large number of political organizations weakens that very democracy – and at times, it was even a way for the Makhzen to extend its hold over political legitimacy.

But what if we consider some kind of formalized relationship between smaller and larger parties of similar political persuasions; a small party has little chances to go beyond a nationwide 6% of popular vote on general elections; they get a seat, or two, possible 5 at best, but not enough to gain some representation on the national ballot, and that hurts larger parties with whom they share similar constituencies. So a deal can be made to help both parties, especially if they share a common history and ideology: the smaller party can ask to join a large party of their choice during ordinary convention. And given the larger party’s acceptance, an ad hoc common convention at the end of which a common document is produced detailing the quotas devoted to the junior partner(s) in terms of platform contribution, leadership slots and even electoral agreements, e.g. what seats should be the partner’s and at what level.

What are the pay-offs for each party then? That’s a contract for sure, and it is best when self-enforced, meaning, that both co-contractors find their benefit in the deal. For junior parties, the benefits are immediate and obvious: niche constituencies at local level with little competition from stronger parties: local community board, perhaps even slots at the regional assemblies (we just have to wait for the Organic Bills that regulate Regional elections) the opportunity to weigh-in nation-wide on policy-making, and finally, better organization and finances.

"A personality problem" (Image: Aujourd'hui Le Maroc)

And if the junior party is happy with the alliance, they might want to merge altogether, no problem. Meanwhile, it is their own valuation for a seat in parliament that will condition the essential motive for the whole thing: do they really want to compete so badly, or are they ready to trade an improbable race for parliament for a surer victory at local level?

The senior party benefits from the ‘alliance’ during general elections: we consider some seats contested during the November 2011 ballot; In Rabat’s both districts, there were 137 competitors for 7 slots. In Casablanca, the same goes: 34 seats attracted 640 candidates. Tangiers, finally, attracted 110 candidates for 5 slots. Mohand Laenser, the Representative for Boulemane, could have carried his n°2 as well, if the MDS didn’t put a good fight in his constituency: the Haraki vote was therefore split, and Laenser’s majority weakened substantially. Larger constituencies typically tend to attract more candidates from all parties, but ironically enough, tend to harm more larger parties – in a sense, PJD’s victory was more out of their competitors’ weaknesses than some sort of popular mandate.

This convoluted argument for a multi party-membership is due to the equally convoluted state of politics, and that goes especially for the Left. The number of political parties with an explicit reference to the Left, Socialism or Progress is now 11 – joined lately, it seems, with the PAM. The same goes for ‘Conservative’ or ‘Rural’ parties. I mean, the sole existence of a dozen of parties -no doubt with such nuanced differences in ideology- only confirms the lack of internal democracy, or a mere issue of egos. The idea is to create some material incentives for smaller parties to come together with larger parties and at the same time spare their leadership some self-pride in the process.

Party Finances

Article 28

Les ressources financières du pari proviennent:

– des cotisations de ses membres;

– des dons, legs et libéralités, en numéraires ou en nature, sans que leur montant ou valeur global (sic) ne puisse dépasser 100,000 dirhams par an et par donateur;

– des revenus liés à ses activités sociales et culturelles;

– du soutien de l’Etat

The need to make sure politics stays clean of any dirty money is to get public finances to step in. Sadly enough, Morocco has an abysmal record on how the State managed money in the political process. Perhaps a shrewder move is to abolish public-funded schemes altogether. Large parties already enjoy big donations besides regular public money, and smaller organizations will eventually force themselves to put their act together once that lifeline is cut – some will have to merge with other parties, others will just disappear – there is no longer money for the smaller leadership to retain followers.

On the other hand, the 100,000 limit is absurd. It really is. La Vie Eco reportedly priced an electoral campaign to 1 Million dirhams. The spending limits on electoral campaign too are ludicrous – especially so when one considers that these limits are not indexed to inflation, these have been imposed by bureaucratic fiat.

Perhaps lawmakers were being protective of the right to constitute a political party by giving a ‘fair and equal chance’ and strict regulation. But the fact is, larger parties already enjoy a substantial advantage. Scrapping such legislation will harm no one, it will only recognize the fact that 100,000 dirhams are not enough to run a party. The same goes for limits on polling too, and both activities go hand in hand: it will take a lot of money to order polling, a business now intimately associated with modern politics.

The Imperial Sultanate of Morocco & The Western Sahara

I have been racking my brain on the subject for quite a while: why is it always the monarchy that has the initiative to announce things, to decide for all of us, and most of all, negotiate on our behalf the crucial issue of the Sahara dispute without the slightest consultation with the people of Morocco, whose money and lives, and resources are generously spent and used with no involvement on their part.

Oh, but I have forgotten: we have this undying covenant between the King and his People, following which His Majesty has an unlimited mandate to do as He pleases, while the loyal subjects await His good pleasure. And in matters like the Sahara dispute, elegantly dubbed ‘matters of territorial integrity’ there is a crypto-fascistic tendency to demand absolute unity. Let us then lecture the regime and his supporters on their arrogant nationalism: How come true patriots have been betrayed when, in 1957-1958 their passionate involvement was on the verge to take back a still occupied territory?

How come that very same monarchy preferred to focus on consolidating its hegemonic grip on independent Morocco, rather than try to realize its independence in its unity? Why is that the same regime quickly abdicated its claim on Mauritania, yet falls in incredible harshness on those who call for a dissident view on the Sahara dispute? And finally, why are we celebrating the Green March, a cynical and nationalistic move engineered by an unpopular and isolated monarch?

To be sure, the monarchy has long since lost any claim for moral leadership on the matter, and subsequently it can no longer be the sole originator of proposals to the Polisario. It is high time The Radical and Liberal side outflanked them on the ‘original’ autonomy proposals.

Above anything else, I am a staunch proponent of the federalist option. As it is, I would go even further when it comes to the Sahara region. As the Late King Hassan II himself once said: ‘aside the Flag and Stamps, everything is negotiable’. Well, let’s negotiate everything then: The proposal calls for the establishment of a joint sovereignty, stylized as the ‘Kingdom of Morocco and the Western Sahara’, or to remain faithful to our heritage, ‘The Imperial Sultanate of Morocco and the Western Sahara’.

Sucessive Defense Walls, 1982-1985

Funny, isn’t it? No, I didn’t smoke pot, nor did I indulge in some heavy drinking. I mean, if we can stand idly by and look on the blatant contradictions between an Islam-based absolutist monarchy, and the more-than-symbolic Western features of the present system, then we might as well just bow and follow the herd of politically correct behaviour: clap when the King announces a shallow reform, frown whenever our ‘sacred unity’ is threatened and shut up and look the other way when the police apparatus beats up or tortures the dissidence.

Let us remain true to our past history and retain its distinguished symbols: we had no king in Morocco. The very concept of Kingdom is disgustingly Western. Why not keep the monarchical system, but instead stylize the Monarch as the “Imperial Majesty, the Sultan Of Morocco”? If we are to retain the monarchical regime (against which I cast no definite hostility, nor do I engage in sheer alacrity) then we might as well take back the old styles. That’s what a genuine Parliamentary Monarchy is about: the Monarch retains the honours, the titles, the Protocol, but relinquishes all powers to the People’s representatives. Why, we might even look back and feel as proud about symbols like the Evening Retreat, or some ceremony performed by Scarlet-clad Royal Guardsmen as we would when referred to the Moroccan monarch as “His (or Her) Imperial Majesty”.

Now, I referred to an alternative autonomy plan that would devolve virtually all powers (save for the regular sovereign ones, i.e. the Armed Forces, the Foreign Representation and Legal Tender Monopoly). The style “Of Morocco and Western Sahara” means that, within the same entity, the Imperial Sultanate, a Moroccan Kingdom and a Sahrawi Republic vow to seal an unbreakable pact to remain together as one country. The Flag and the Stamp, as well as the essential features of sovereignty remain indeed untouched.

This, of course, is but what the proposal aims to achieve. Details would of course entail a great deal of debate, but beforehand, let us take a look at the official proposal for Autonomy; To be fair, the proposals are very advanced, but there remains the roadblock for genuine democracy, the royal fetters that hold back the will of the people; Indeed:

[…]
[4]. Through this initiative, the Kingdom of Morocco guarantees to all Sahrawis, inside as well as outside the territory, that they will hold a privileged position and play a leading role in the bodies and institutions of the region, without discrimination or exclusion.
[5]. Thus, the Sahara populations will themselves run their affairs democratically, through legislative, executive and judicial bodies enjoying exclusive powers.  They will have the financial resources needed for the region’s development in all fields, and will take an active part in the nation’s economic, social and cultural life.
[…]
[6]. The State will keep its powers in the royal domains, especially with respect to defense (sic), external relations and the constitutional and religious prerogatives of His Majesty the King.
[7]. The Moroccan initiative, which is made in an open spirit, aims to set the stage for dialogue and a negotiation process that would lead to a mutually acceptable political solution.
[…]
[12]. In keeping with democratic principles and procedures, and acting through legislative, executive and judicial bodies, the populations of the Sahara autonomous Region shall exercise powers, within the Region’s territorial boundaries, mainly over the following:
· Region’s local administration, local police force and jurisdictions;
· in the economic sector: economic development, regional planning, promotion of investment, trade, industry, tourism and agriculture;
· Region’s budget and taxation;
· infrastruture (sic): water, hydraulic facilities, electricity, public works and transportation;
· in the social sector: housing, education, health, employment, sports, social welfare and social security;
· cultural affairs, including promotion of the Saharan Hassani cultural heritage;
· environment.
[…]
[14]. The State shall keep exclusive jurisdiction over the following in particular:
· the attributes of sovereignty, especially the flag, the national anthem and the currency;
· the attributes stemming from the constitutional and religious prerogatives of the King, as Commander of the Faithful and Guarantor of freedom of worship and of individual and collective freedoms;
· national security, external defense (sic) and defense (sic) of territorial integrity;
· external relations;
· the Kingdom’s juridical order.

[…]

The proposal itself is a good workable platform, and, provided some other prerogatives are expanded, and the symbolic recognition of the autonomous Sahrawi region as a Republic, the proposal might even induce more Polisario people into either joining the Moroccan cause, or even pressure their leadership into accepting the deal.

There is, however, one catch: the proposals, for all their generosity, cannot be credible if the Makhzen still stifles dissent, concentrates power and uses corruption to maintain itself in power. There is no need to point our that, in the camps, Polisario is even worse when it comes to dealing with dissent. And yet, we need to take the moral high grounds by being purer than pure. The Moroccan democracy, to convince the Tindouf people, needs to be of impeachable integrity. A radical institutional overhaul is more than needed, an essential, but not necessarily sufficient condition.

The proposal retains a few aspects of Sovereignty, but does not go beyond general principles; To be sure, currency will be one. And yet, I can foresee at least one problem, the most important of them all: How will the Central Bank define its currency board? We know, from various sources, that the bank defines Dirham counterpart as 60 to 80% Euro. And yet, the one thing Sahara can supply the world with , Phosphate, is Dollar-labelled. Morocco exports goods mainly to the Euro-zone (and thus, conditions its monetary policy with that of the Euro’s) it also exports Phosphate and gets paid in Dollar. This might be construed as a fickle, but believe you me, even within the official proposed scheme, sooner or later (and rather sooner than later, I would say) troubles about currency value and board will inevitably arise. How can we solve this?

Obviously, if joint sovereignty is to be exercised, so will need to be currency valuation; The Central Bank board needs to reflect a balance in its members, a balance that would be reflected on the Dirham’s value. In this particular issue, there can be expected very little dissent: it will be a mutual incentive to keep the Dirham’s value stable and reach consensus whenever possible, and as far as the currency board is concerned, a change in the Bank’s policy regarding transparency can solve the issue; Instead of decreeing it confidential, the Central Bank needs to be open about it, a further deterrent on the board of representatives not to engage in chaotic argument.

The Union Jack designing process can be useful as as a benchmark to design a new Moroccan flag

Same goes for Police (national security), or even Army; Police staff and establishment can be local (just as in the northern regions) but the Army’s issue is trickier. It’s a bit of a quandary, especially when one considers the Army as a unifying symbol. However, the establishment of an autonomous militia, a National Guard of sorts, can provide a good compromise. As for the Federal Armed Forces, a token invitation to defend the common border completes the picture and forestalls any potential problems on the matter.

So there it is: a complete independence in managing local finances (including bond issue backed by Phosphate receipts) and politics, the only infringement on such autonomy is the payment of a Federal solidarity tax, as well as recipient of Federal funds for infrastructure and the like. And because the union needs to feed on common institutions aside from the Monarch’s, the Republic’s representatives seat in the Federal Supreme Court, the Federal Armed Forces Imperial Staff and the Board of the Central Bank.

Furthermore, the Super-Constitutional powers the King enjoys need to be curtailed, either by transferring them to the Federal Prime Minister (a Chancellor of sorts) or by simply abolishing them altogether. The Faithfuls’ Commandership, and its potentially troublesome extra-constitutional interference with earthly matters, needs to be dealt with in the new constitution. Finally, the Judiciary can be expanded to allow for a separate set of rules in the Sahara. However, and because the Supreme Federal Court would be common to both entities, mechanisms can enforce the widest possible set of similarities in laws and legislative standards.

Why would we therefore need to change the King’s styles and get involved in all minute details? Well, mainly because once such proposal is adopted, there will be a great deal of symbolism to be changed: the National Coat of Arms, which will need to be bifurcated from the Royal one. If it wasn’t for the ambiguous Hassan II‘s statement, I would very much like to see a change in our national flag just like with the Union Jack: some sort of combination that would seal further the union between both entities.

And since we are introducing changes in the symbols of the State, we might as well correct a 50-years old anachronism in the Monarch’s style; We have no King. We can retain the monarchical form if we want it, but the title must change and revert back to the old, multi-millennium style of Imperial Highness, the Sultan.

This is an idle dream. A waste of time. If Polisario bosses keep on being fed by Algerian occult lobbies (and the soon-ousted Colonel Ghaddafi), as long as Moroccan lobbies still benefit from the status-quo, in short, as long as this unholy alliance between reactionary forces everywhere keeps on drawing benefits to the participants, then people from both sides of the wall will still suffer and live in mutual hostility. Time to stand up.