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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Old Makhzen Never Dies

Posted in Tiny bit of Politics by Zouhair ABH on June 9, 2011

…And the recent horse-trading these last couple of days reminds us of the one viable rule in Moroccan politics: the Makhzen Giveth and Taketh away. The agenda is set by and not imposed upon the Regime.

The nation-wide road-show Menouni’s commission has engaged in over the last three months, and the rounds of presentations political parties and other organizations did in explaining their respective views on the constitutional reform was initially supposed to be concluded with a circulated draft of the future constitution. We now discover -basically at D Day-2 from the official deadline set for the commission to make public its recommendations, that it would be best for the commission and the abnormal entity attached to it (headed by Royal Counsellor M. Moatassim, as per March 10th Royal Speech) not to circulate a written summary, but rather give a brief oral presentation, included in a 6 hours meetings, during which the invited organizations need to accept it as the accurate description of the upcoming constitution. Parallel to this manoeuvre, the Makhzenite minions are spreading ‘The Good News‘ about the changes made in Article 19, about the new powers the Prime Minister will enjoy, as well as the new concept of regionalism and extended autonomy for local democracy. Overall, and to the public opinion, these little manoeuvres go by unnoticed, while the narrative concentrates on how important the new constitution is going to be. A breakthrough in democracy, as it were.

According to these reports, the 2011 constitutional vintage is going to be unprecedented – Just like the 4 reforms that came before. If the official propaganda was to be traced back as far as 1963, we would have been at the all-times vanguard of a democracy such that no scholar in political science ever dreamt of such edifice.

The Dark Side Of the Commission. Mohamed Moatassim, Counsel to the King (Picture TelQuel)

Today marks the 3-Months anniversary of the King’s Speech on the constitutional reform. Much has been said, written about it. And, truth be told, whatever the plethora of opinions that followed the news, it has been a remarkable exercise of freedom of speech. However despicable and contemptible some of these pieces might have been, they were, quite simply, the true exercise of the most basic civic right: the right to discuss important public matters without self-censorship. And I am afraid the break is not going to last long. The Headmaster is about the blow the whistle and disperse the party; What is truly harrowing is the way the whole thing is carried out: sneaky, basically a Fait-Accompli. The grievances of a large spectrum about the way the commission has been set up have not been heard, and to those who refused to give it further legitimacy, they were criticized for being too ‘dogmatic’ or ‘extremists’ as if Menouni’s real boss, Counsellor Moatassim, was a beacon of democratic proceedings and a transparent operator. The burden of guilt was easily shifted to those who refused to be robbed from the essential claim for a genuine democratic, parliamentary monarchy, and little by little, these have been muted out of what can be charitably called a ‘public debate’.

Well, with these backroom manoeuvres, there is an additional body of evidence that the Regime did not fundamentally change. The traditional opacity and conspiratorial tactics are still employed. The argument, alas endorsed by many well-educated people, is that when it comes to serious stuff, all these noble gestures about democracy and public participation are useless; Writing the constitution is too serious a matter to be left to its citizens. The commission has heard those it considered fit to deliver a meaningful message, and then selected whatever suits the Monarchy best. Menouni is, at best, providing the legal phrasing.

Let us look at the numbers. At a first glance, the argument that we are not ‘ready for democracy’ might find some support in the overall picture of Moroccans’ interest -or rather, lack of thereof- in politics. The values survey has compiled data on Moroccan politics, and although the vast majority of likely voters registered -or had at least one opportunity to vote on a national or local elections, they do not give the impression of active involvement in the said political process. Indeed, 82% of all likely voters registered, and 70% already voted during an election.

But then again, past elections have been so manipulated -by the late former Interior Minister Driss Basri that these numbers might be meaningless, especially when compared to the lack of interest in politics itself: 26% of the polled sample said they “did not care much about politics” (and the proportion goes as high as 35% for rural dwellers) and only 1.7% expressed an interest in signing up for a party. Finally, 1 in 4 admits they cannot assess the state of democracy in Morocco, even though 64% are confident in Morocco’s future. As a matter of fact, there is very little interest in partisan politics: the first quality voters look for in their prospective representative is “Ma’qoul“, or integrity. 63% are unable to think within the Left-Right political spectrum.

That is why the ‘Yes’ vote will win with a landslide majority -perhaps not as large as the ones observed since 1963- because a vast majority of Moroccans -as the numbers show- will register and vote, not out of political principles, but because the vote is still a collective endavour, and not the expression of individual will. as the report notes:

22% des citadins et 35% des ruraux déclarent ne porter aucun intérêt à la politique. Cependant, lorsqu’on prend comme indicateurs l’inscription aux listes électorales et le vote, on remarque que les ruraux sont plus intéressés par la politique que les citadins. 86% des ruraux et 80% des citadins sont inscrits aux listes électorales, 77% et 66% ont respectivement voté aux dernières élections. Deux explications peuvent être apportées à ce fait paradoxal.

On peut supposer que la mobilisation en milieu rural est collective et que souvent le vote est considéré comme un acte collectif guidé par des affinités familiales, de voisinage ou clientéliste. Les gens se déplacent en groupe pour voter. Dans ce cas, il ne s’agirait pas d’un intérêt porté à la politique au sens moderne du terme où l’individu, en tant que tel et de façon autonome, serait libre de participer ou non. […] Dans une société rurale, et dans toute société de face à face où tout se sait, rester à l’écart des processus politiques impliquant sa communauté constitue un grand risque“. (p.54)

It is therefore safe to say that indeed, Moroccan voters are not ready for real politics. But that is confusing the outcome for its cause: Moroccans do not care about politics because they have not been given the opportunity to debate things; they have been prevented from trying to make Cartesian sense out of the political sense. Political apathy is, in short, result of the lack of their involvement in real politics, not the opposite. Indeed, the younger generations were more ready to define themselves on the political spectrum (22%) than their elders (12%) There is a high potential among the 18-35 demographic segment to take their political interest to field application. Now, how could they do so, when, on the instance of the constitutional reform, they are hurriedly prevented from having their say within a nationwide public debate?

The other figures in the report do, in a sense, explain Feb20 demographics, as well as the lack of participation in the last elections, and when one carefully reads them, can explain the need for a genuine constitutional reform, and not that half-backed, crooked deal likely to be imposed on us. Even though 18-24 Moroccans are less likely to register for voting (55%) only 13% of them declare their lack of interest in politics. They are about twice less likely not to situate political parties (29.8%) than their elders from the 45-59 segment (50.2%); Overall the 18-35 are more likely to be interested in politics than the 35+ segment.

A Nihilist Strategy since 1963

Political apathy goes back to the fact that the more educated one is, the more convinced pseudo-representative institutions are unlikely to do their job they grow. A college-degree graduate is almost twice less likely to be optimist about the country’s future (36%) than illiterate Moroccans (70%). The problem is not in voters apathy, it is in the institutions seemingly put together to represent the people. This is why I -and many others- rant against the very short period allowed for the Referendum campaign.

Whether Moroccans are ready or not to democracy is irrelevant (and quite insulting, especially from the sanctimonious bunch that portray themselves as patriotic) because there is no definite state where ‘Democracy’ is achieved. It can be so only through practise, and we are in the process of being robbed away from the perfect opportunity to exercise our civic right.

To Boycott, Or Not Boycott, That is not the Question

Posted in Flash News, Read & Heard, Tiny bit of Politics by Zouhair ABH on May 23, 2011

Yesterday has been a black day. It’s a setback for freedom of expression in Morocco, as for democracy, it has been already compromised by sad omens on the upcoming . In the rarefied circles of power, partisans of brute force seem to have now the upper hand.

A fellow blogger and friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) has recently appraised me of his decision to boycott the referendum. While I respect his stand, I was surprised. Surprised because I know him to be no Annahj, nor Al Adl sympathiser. And even though we disagree on a number of things and issues, we share a certain fascination for economic analysis, so it came as a surprise, when he told me he did not want to register. The explanation of such decision, as well as the methodology, so to speak, astounded me, simply because I have never heard of it.

A thing or two before I elaborate on that: I do not pretend to elicit some generalized pattern from my friend’s resolve not to contribute in any electioneering, nor do I have the pretence to assess the ‘mood of the nation’. This post is merely a pondered response to a hasty argument we had. I do hope there will be some reciprocation, so as to have a comprehensive view of this rather unusual boycott. Blog posts are much better than tweet snaps, I think.

My friend boycotted the registering campaign. I also understood he did not register for past elections (say 2009, 2007 and 2002 at least) so he is, quite simply, not existent as a voter and elector. Paradoxically, his all-out opposition to any kind of ‘compromise’ disenfranchised him. I don’t know if he buys into that idea that civics is a title one works out to qualify for it. but if one abdicates the right to vote, then there isn’t much left out of citizenship and civics, is there?

Worse still, his voluntary disenfranchisement does not hurt the façade of democracy he wants to do away with. Suppose a million potential voters, like my friend, reached the same conclusion, and decided not to register. Out of an electoral corps of nearly 14 Million, that is certainly no big loss. It only means one million less voters, certainly not one million blank votes, or one million-short turn-out. Because he did not bother to register, on the contrary, the yielded result is contrary to his initial aims.

Besides, that all-out opposition is almost farcical. When taken to its logical conclusion, my friend should basically renegade on his Moroccan citizenship. The argument goes as follows: Political ‘game rules’ are so biased I will not soil myself into accepting the rule-maker’s guidelines, so I will step aside. The trouble is, the very same lawmaker edicts game rules in many other ‘games’: Why accept the proceedings for ID Card, or Passport? Why did he accept to receive a Scholarship when he was student? Isn’t that an explicit recognition of the lawmaker and their supremacy over game design? And why, if he was so keen not to get involve with these rules, did he accept to submit to Moroccan regulations over one of the most important contracts he would have ever signed up for? The answer, it seems, is transparent: Because he was compelled to do it. Voting is voluntary, and the choice led to what I called ‘intellectual laziness’.

The word is perhaps too strong. Contrary to any stereotyped ideas about it, intellectual laziness is a very logical, very thorough process. It is basically a cost/benefits analysis. His position can be summed up in the following question: “Why bother to vote in a referendum, if nothing new or more congenial to my own definition to democracy comes out of it?”. The cost of registering, campaigning or just trying to link up with acquaintances and convince them to follow suit is time consuming and costly in resources and efforts. Besides, here’s a very simple and cost-free way to rebuke the façade democracy Moroccan regime tries so hard to put on; Low turnout and high blank votes. Better still, define yourself out of that herd-like electoral corps, and break away as a free (wo)man.

This is intellectual laziness because the benefits of staying out of political confrontations (on ideas, projects and ultimately, streets) are overweighted compared to the incurred costs in following a different course of actions. My friend, it seems, does not understand he is, whether he likes it or not, part of Pareto’s “non-governmental elite”. Perhaps Elite embodies too much connotations as a word; Some sort of alternative ruling apparatus. He has a duty not to shrink away from these things;

My criticism -because that’s what it is, though there is no anger behind it- is rooted in the fact his gesture is futile. He wanted to boycott the referendum, but he only managed to mute his own voice by not registering. Others found time to go to the registering booth, put their names down on the list, and vowed, on Referendum Day, not to turn out to vote, or put on the ballot a blank vote. This is real boycott, and the political message carried out has a meaningful impact. A low turn out and/or a high proportion of blank votes is always a slap on the face of our much adorned image of ‘Regional Exception’, and is difficult to spin around as the symbol of contentment among Moroccan citizens. So my friend and colleague not only muted his own voice, but by doing so carried no significant political message to the regime. Not only does he fail to use his citizen right, but he managed to cut himself out of it. It’s mother’s milk for the regime if guys like him do not bother to register altogether, because no one pays attention to the size of electoral votes relative to potential voters. Media attention focuses on turnout and blank votes, nothing more.

I do hope he will reconsider his position; It ‘s too late to register again, but in his own mind, this idea of refusing to have anything to do with the regime as a proof of ‘intellectual resistance’ is adulterated by logical flaws. Whether we like it or not, our political regime is well established and dug in. It has loyalties (paid for or genuine) and has all monopolies of symbolic power. Resistance is not to step aside of the whole structure, but to step in, register and then, following each one’s state of mind, vote in favour, against or boycott the referendum. To refuse the right to vote, on the other hand, has no use.

A Citizen’s Gesture

Fellow blogger @Larbi_org used to exercise his wit at my expenses: intellectuals are all talk and talk, but no walk. First off, I have to say I am honoured to be bestowed such a title (I don’t mind the negative connotation attached to it, and as a matter of fact, the title would do nicely as a badge of honour)  What I do crave, on the other hand, is the rough-and-tumble of political campaigning, the engagement with the electorate, that enticing feeling of uncertainty when the local policeman or mokhazeni is likely to bark his orders forbidding ‘political agitation on the street’… And even though I am at the moment an expatriate student, I do have now the opportunity to take the argument to field application, so to speak.

This is going to be the moment of truth: All past referendums have been muted campaigns, a constant media hammering for a ‘Yes’ Vote (Those who experienced some of them surely remember ‘صوتوا بكل حرية على نعم’) and any brazen attempt to call for a contrarian opinion, or even worse, to call for a boycott were either jailed or beaten out of the street. I would like to wager the present security officials are not that dumb, and will allow some sort of dissident expression over the matter. Whatever the outcome in June, the constitutional draft is bound to satisfy some, dissatisfy others. The former will call for a vote in favour of yet another more democratic constitution, while the latter will usually split between those who vote against (not because they were content with the earlier version, but because they had wanted a different constitutional modus operandi) and those who gainsay the whole system, maximalists eager to inflict upon the regime some sort of rebuttal by trying to get the largest amount of people to boycott what they consider to be a political farce.

This is democracy, and plurality of opinions is to be expected, whatever comes out from the June deadline. Many of my friends and acquaintances want to adopt a wait-and-see attitude before making their minds up over the referendum, and I do respect their prudence. As for me, and because I know no good can come up from ageing and conservative law scholars, my mind is already made up. (right from March10th, actually). This, however, is partisan politics. There is a higher level, upon which the argument is no longer between the Yes and No, but between Participation and Boycott. I like to think civic behaviour dictates all of us should participate to the referendum, but again, the pro-boycott are entitled to their opinion, and should be respected. But to the undecided (and there is no need for polling to know they represent a majority of likely voters) these are the ones that need to be convinced of registering; And more precisely, those of us, expatriated students.

As of today, as a Moroccan citizen, a students’ society member and as a party member -in that order- I am campaigning to sign my fellow Moroccans up for the referendum. As you may know, the authorities are renewing their electoral listings (closed on May 21st), and it is an opportunity for those of us who did not vote on earlier referendums or elections, as well as for those who moved out in between elections, to register and make their voices heard.

My little stand, my little contribution to civic nihilism.

As an expatriate student, it is quite hard to doorstep fellow students and countrymen in exile, and convince them to take a day off and head to the nearest consulate (sometimes located very far from their domiciles) it is also hard to convince people just to vote; remarks like “why bother?” or “I don’t know what to vote for, better wait till June” are all sensible objections to what is seemingly a romantic stand on democracy and civics, but there remains the crucial point to be made: we need to make our voices heard.

Many of those who read past posts know I am voting ‘No’ in any case (save the one when M. Menouni decides to grow some balls and come up with a ground-breaking, earth-shattering memorandum such as this one) so why bother in trying to sign people up? many of whom are likely to vote ‘Yes’ because, well… it’s a new constitution. Don’t I have a vested interest in trying to sway the people’s votes and get them to see my own way?

Indeed I do. But that’s the beauty of applied democracy: what matters now is not what to vote for, but why bother turning out to the polling station (in my case and in the case of those I am appealing to, a consulate) and vote for something that, in all probability, does not affect the everyday life every one of us is carrying out with.

In short, pluck up your courage, gather all your civic spirits, your ID Card, Passport and Residence Permit (if applicable) and head off to the nearest Moroccan consulate, wherever you are. You owe it to your country and fellow citizens.

Wrap it up, Time is of The essence

It has been about three months since a group of young people, eager to make their voices heard loud and clear, staged the first of the three demonstrations calling for constitutional reforms and policies to rout out corruption and nepotism. The momentum built steadily, the youth managed some spectacular stunts, but now is the time to cool off and set off a precise agenda.

Paradoxically, “Feb20” ‘s main strength turns out to be its deadliest weakness, and if it does not try and do something about it, perhaps the cause of its demise. Indeed, the movement is heterogeneous: old-guard left-wingers and human rights activists coexist more or less peacefully with Salafists and Al-Adl religious conservative. This strange alliance of social progressists and reactionaries appeals to a broad spectrum of the public opinion, but that unity comes at the price of ambiguity. Both wings -and the motley of nuances in between- wholeheartedly agree on the need for establishing democracy, but still fail to define a common manifesto, as it were.

Consider the main 20Feb. grievances, those that gathered masses of demonstrators on February 20th, March 20th and April 23th:

” دستور ديمقراطي يمثل الإرادة الحقيقية للشعب.

– حل الحكومة والبرلمان وتشكيل حكومة انتقالية مؤقتة تخضع لإرادة الشعب.

– قضاء مستقل ونزيه

– محاكمة المتورطين في قضايا الفساد واستغلال النفوذ ونهب خيرات الوطن.

– الاعتراف باللغة الأمازيغية كلغة رسمية إلى جانب العربية والاهتمام بخصوصيات الهوية المغربية لغة ثقافة وتاريخا

– إطلاق كافة المعتقلين السياسيين ومعتقلي الرأي ومحاكمة المسؤولين.”

Among these items, the manifesto does manage to find common ground: the liberation of political detainees (a clear rebuttal of Morocco’s boasting about its human rights record), an autonomous judiciary and court action against corrupt officials appeal to every Moroccan citizen, whatever their political allegiances. There is even a great deal of potential consensus on parliament and government dissolution and the appointment of a transitory body to oversee the constitutional reform aimed at. But the niceties stop there. There is an explosive disagreement potential on what everyone of the Feb20 supporting organization means by “a democratic constitution representative of the people’s will”; It ranges from Soviet democracy to an Islamist Caliphate based on the Islamic notion of Shoura (شورة) democracy, or indeed a Libertarian, crypto-anarchist democracy, whatever wing each member of the movement belongs to. This diversity insures a truly democratic representation within the movement, but unfortunately has a crippling effect on its potential as a platform opposition to the regime.

Consider, for instance, their refusal to answer the official invitation from the Menouni commission to contribute to the official constitutional debate was, I am afraid to say, the first chip in “Fortress February 20th”. There are many Human Rights activists within the organization, and it can count on the support of very respectable law scholars party members of supporting political parties and societies, but it seems the refusal was more out of sheer realism: how can it be possible to prepare the movement own manifesto on constitutional reform? My point does not consider the refusal on itself (a decision, in my opinion, in full accordance with the principle of compromising with the regime until it gives in on the real issues). No, I fear the regime can no take the high grounds, and further stresses the impossible task, for the movement, to come up with a precise agenda. On the other hand, this curse might as well be a blessing in disguise: there have been scores of unhealthy speculation about some sort of Faustian alliance between the extreme-left-wing (Annahj types) and the Salafist reactionaries (Al Adl types). If indeed such alliance was sealed, then there would be a lot more centralization and discipline within the ranks. If indeed professional militants were the spearhead of Feb20 movement, things would be a great deal more confrontational. At least that should reassure conspiracy-theorist freaks: the movement is not a vassal to the Marxists and Islamists.

Let me explain: consider the left-wing, secularist activists in the Feb20 platform. Obviously, they would consider a secularized state with no religion-based legislation or legitimacy as the most straightforward way to achieve democracy. On the other hand, Salafists have this literature calling for the regeneration of Islamic scholarly heritage (hence their name) Although they do not necessarily always profess reactionary positions, they share the common feature of considering Islam and Sharia as the sole basis for social legislation.

The word ‘reactionary’ should be understood with no negative connotation (although I tend to use that myself) but as an open hostility to liberalism and progress, as well as the stated objective to roll back what is considered harmful or foreign and go back to some unspecified past setting. Salafism, because of its longing to the true ismalic life the ascendants (السلف الصالح) led in strict observance of Islamic teachings (Sharia and Koran), can rightfully be considered to be a reactionary.

So here’s a first roadblock: both wings agree on democracy as the only viable political organization to replace the existing crony autocracy, but would ultimately fail to define the very basic mechanisms of such regime: indeed, the head of government (and we assume here all Feb20 tendencies agree on the institution of Prime Minister, or at least some sort of Premiership) has to be accountable to the people. But then again, what are the Premier’s responsibilities? Would they allow individual freedom to flourish, or are they required as proxy to Amir Al Mouminine, by virtue of some modern Beya (بيعة) contract, to uphold the teachings and rules of Islamic Sharia?

Are these too high-brow kind of matters to discuss with our average Ahmed? Well, let us consider these: the liberal wing wouldn’t mind the present modern monetary system, with interest rates, commercial papers, complex financial transactions that make the economy rolling. Sure some macroeconomic policies would be the flavour of many left-wingers, but what about the Islamist bunch? Wouldn’t they prefer a more Islamic economic structure? Wouldn’t they oppose the use of interest as Ribaa? Wouldn’t they settle for anything less than the full gearing of economy into Islamic mode?

That’s the trouble with re-writing the constitution: it is not just a set of rules every citizen has to respect. It is above all the legislative paradigm all laws, court rulings and administrative regulation move within. And what is more of a trouble is that Islamist paradigm (the one favoured by the politcal wing of Al Adl anyway) contradicts too much that of left-wingers’. Liberals and conservatives can walk the line, but not all the way down, not if they want to be true to their principles.

Now, it can go either way: the Royal deadline for CCRC to publish its constitutional draft is approaching fast (mid-June, according to the King’s speech). Whatever criticism one might have on its appointment procedure or the quality of its panel members, it will have the undeniable moral advantage of claiming that it has asked ‘civil society’ and adjusted its draft accordingly. It is also the official spokesperson for the regime’s idea of possible constitutional draft, a regime which is not entirely gainsaid by the dissidence, so there is very little chance an outright majority would reject the commission’s findings. The movement could try and mobilize voters to vote against the draft during the referendum, thus forcing the regime into reconsidering the process, and perhaps come to their senses and convene a nation-wide consultation (perhaps with a direct Royal meeting with representatives of all sorts) thus insuring a genuine consensus on the constitution. The movement’s diversity would, if I may, be transmitted to other political forces and the civil society, so as the achieved consensus draft would be indeed representative of all opinions. This dream scenario has a chance of sucess if the movement manages to muster enough support to repel the referendum and put pressure to call on a different consultation afterwards.

The second scenario considers Feb20 movement in its most patent feature, i.e. as a pure tribune organization. It opposes the status quo, but because of the delicate balance it has managed to achieve within its membership, it cannot go any further than shout slogans that lack content or even appeal to the silent majority. On possibility is that the movement might call for a boycott (a decision I can respect and understand) but would fail to present an alternative other than taking on to the streets.

Voices of moderation and compromise should, in such cases, prevail. But let us not forget that one of the reasons with these young people rose and shouted their exasperation is precisely because of the obsessive use of compromise and consensus in mainstream Moroccan politics. In times like these, and in view of the grand principles the movement calls for, nuances and compromise, for all the undeniable benefits it might bring to the movement’s credibility, are very far from being considered as a starting point for a comprehensive counter-proposal on the constitution.

But perhaps I am mistaken. I do hope I am, for it would be a shame the spark (Iskra) would not start the bush fire our politics desperately need.