The Moorish Wanderer

“Marginals” and “Safes” – Post Game Analysis

This is not about the election itself, but rather how each caucus holds on to their seats, and more importantly, how strong is the PJD conference. I suggest that their now nationwide appeal is not as strong as it seems, and though they remain by and large the leading political party in parliament, many of their seats are ‘marginals’ and could be turned by PJD’s competitors in 2016 – if they do not perform well. Trouble is, they perform far far better than their competitors; so their apparent weaknesses are of no immediate worry to them.

But PJD’s seats are not the only marginals around: other parties have had a hard time snatching their owns, and in the end, every mainstream party (that ranges from PJD to PPS) have some relatively safe seats, and others their representatives must work hard to retain their constituencies. The very existence of PJD marginals, in my opinion, shows that these elections have been, on the whole pretty open, transparent and ‘clean’: under different circumstances, gerrymandering and other nasty ballot-stuffing manoeuvres (from pro-regime candidates, for instance) would have deprived PJD from a dozen seats we shall have a look at later on. I may be at odds with many who disparaged these elections as non-representative and organized within an undemocratic constitution, but I feel the topic at hand is a very good start of mainstream parliamentary democracies: where are the strengths and weakness of various political forces, and how much does it take to unseat them, as part of the dynamic, democratic renewal of governments.

First off, the present ballot system still handicaps rising challengers; it was, it seems, the only viable compromise between a homogeneous parliament house with large party caucuses, and the possibility for smaller parties with regional appeal to gain representation. We cannot also rule out the need for the Interior Ministry to maintain their grip on various constituencies, and thus predict (if not force some of them) results fitting their own agenda. Once data relative to each seat’s votes are released, we can even dive into interesting simulation of other ballot systems; yes, PJD could significantly improve or downgrade their performance, depending on the selected ballot system; Is there an ideal system that would promote democracy and government accountability? Political scientists tend to think not. But nonetheless, public debate and collective involvement with the decision-making process can insure the selected ballot system would fit the citizen’s needs.

But let us consider the existing ballot used in Morocco – it is proportional with a 6% threshold, and is defined by the Interior Ministry as follows:

Le scrutin a lieu à la représentation proportionnelle suivant la règle du plus fort reste sans panachage ni vote préférentiel.
Toutefois, en cas d’élection partielle, celle-ci a lieu au scrutin universel à la majorité relative à un tour lorsqu’il s’agit d’élire un seul membre.

computed as follows: There are 3 seats in a particular district, and 5 parties are competing for these; they have carried the following votes:

Party A: ……………………….3.000

Party B: ……………………….2.400

Party C: ……………………….1.400

Party D: ………………………….500

Party E: ………………………….120

The electoral coefficient is thus: (3.000+2.400+1.400+500+120)/3=2.473

Party A gets the first seat, and retains 3.000-2.473= 527 votes.

Party B gets the second seat, and retains 2.400-2.473 = 73 votes.

Party A carries the third seat because its residual votes outmatch Party C’s 500 votes (by 27); the district allocates therefore two seats to A and one to B. If Party C had managed to get a dozen more votes, it could have well carried that last seat – their own, marginal seat so to speak.

What’s a marginal in Moroccan parliamentary politics? Let us consider the example of a large district – i.e. with many opened slots for candidates: the newly unified Meknes district has 6 seats, and these have been filled as shown on the picture.

In absolute terms, all parties but PJD are marginals; but because of the proportional ballot system, only MP is.

Now, following the existing ballot system, PJD has most votes, but not enough to capture all available slots, though enough to gain 2 out of 6, a rather strong showing considering how large the district is, and the stiff competition around it (there were 150 candidates competing for 25 parties) MP, on the other hand, has barely got enough votes (just above the electoral coefficient computed to get a shot) Representative Abdelkrim Labrigui (MP – Meknès) holds therefore a marginal seat – the likelihood of losing his seat next election is contingent on a small number of votes; by contrast, outgoing finance minister and maiden representative, Salaheddine Mezouar, has managed to scrap enough votes to elect himself, and it will take more votes to unseat him; the same can be said of Representative Abdellah Bouanou, whose votes have been large enough to get him and his n°2 elected; in that respect, Bouanou holds a relatively ‘safe’ seat – relative to what PJD managed to carry in other constituencies, as we shall see later on.

Fortunately, there are other districts that can illustrate the concept of ‘safe seats’: basically, these are districts where one party has enough votes to carry their entire list on all opened slots, or a significant majority on these seats; PAM and PJD have their safe seats: PJD has carried all 3 seats allocated to Mohammedia and Sidi Bernoussi. In seven districts, PJD collected 2 seats out of three (in Casablanca, Tangier and Marrakesh)

PAM, on the other hand, has relatively weaker safe seats: 2 seats out of 3 in Rhamna (obviously) and the others are all two-seats openings (Bodjour, Jerada, Mdiq-Fnideq, Mediouna and Zag) and remains perhaps the only party with a regional stronghold. Istiqlal has Laayoune (2 out of 3) and that’s about it. USFP, RNI and MP do not get more than one seat per district, and more often than not, they do not get the n°1 seat.

PJD have their own, marginal seats as well: Chefchaouen, Kalaat Sraghna, Khemisset-Oulmes, Laayoune and Nouaceur representatives have had just enough votes to put them in the ballot and carry the last opened seat.

Speaking of marginals, there are three parties, whose caucus is made up of a significant number of highly-fought for seats on local ballot: Istiqlal has 16 marginals (out of its 47) USFP and PAM have each 11 marginals -out of respectively 30 and 35 seats. As far as USFP and Istiqlal are concerned, these are tale-telling sings of weak national parties, in a complete contrast with PJD’s vitality and aggressiveness.

The true landslide: 43% of all 92 districs are headed by PJD candidates

But what would it be if Morocco had a different ballot system? What if we had First Past the Post for instance? This ballot system, used in the United Kingdom, allows for strong parliamentary majorities, but does not help smaller organizations and communities to carry their voice to parliament house. But nonetheless, let us consider the implications of such a system:

– There are 92 districts (divided into 305 seats) on local ballot; national ballot just mirrors the results to provide representation for women and the youth.

– A district is carried only by the leading party, regardless of how many seats it has carried

– We then replicate the percentages commensurate to the 305 opened seats

Results are astonishing: almost half of all 92 districts are led by PJD candidates (now Representatives) and other parties see their parliamentary caucuses go through some dramatic changes; for one, First Past The Post does not reward mediocrity: it is alright to get candidates elected on the second or third opened slot, but it is a bit worrying not to manage to get the lead seat.

These results, I hope will be further vindicated once detailed figures are released, but it is clear PJD is, by far, an underestimated winner. Other parties, if anything, barely held to their seats, and to the seemingly other winners, their marginals -the surest sign of weakening popularity- make up a worrying percentage of their caucus’ seats.

Moroccan Elections for the Clueless Vol.19

Posted in Flash News, Intikhabates-Elections, Morocco, Read & Heard by Zouhair ABH on November 21, 2011

(A typo has been corrected on the latest “Moroccan Elections for the Clueless” series – 7102 candidates include the 90 national ballot seats, hence a lower competitive ratio over 395 seats. I hope this was not too much of an inconvenience; thank you) has finally uploaded all of the electoral map, and they are thanked for it. However, I would be eternally grateful to the Interior Ministry (Yes, GRATEFUL) if they’d care to allow some more friendly-user upload button on their otherwise very nice charts. I am trying to figure out a contact on their website (which as far as I can tell, is just as mysterious as the Ministry overseeing it) and ask them -very nicely- if it is not too much trouble to get the list per constituency, with the standard socio-demographic indicators: age bandwidth, gender, education, prior public service, etc.

So there we are: 7102 Candidates, 32 political parties (which I will try and list later on – and I can already confess I have never heard of some of these) all over 92 districts. There are a couple of V.I.P candidates that might clash over particularly competitive seats, as we shall see as well.

Behold - 31 Political Parties and 6 independent Candidates.

It is worth pointing out that contrary to what one might think, the most competitive seats -those with higher numbers of candidates- are not necessarily located in large urban areas. In fact, it is hardly the case: Fqih Bensalah (Tadla Azilal) district has 112 candidates (28 parties) competing for 4 seats. There is an equivalent number of seats in Rabat-Océan (Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer), and yet about only half of that number competes over these, and 17 parties only put up candidates in what is usually referred to as a “death district” . Casablanca-Anfa (Greater Casablanca) too shows a smaller number of candidates, and even though it remains higher than Rabat’s own candidates’ pool, it is well below Fqih Bensalah’s very attractive 4 seats. It does make sense, since rural districts historically yielded higher turnout, and politics down there do not obey to the constraints of modern politics.

There some interesting constituencies and candidates running for office next Friday. Among others, the quite attractive 23-years old Meryem Daâli, PAM figurehead candidate in My Rashid district (Casablanca). She is mostly likely to lose to more experienced and popular competitors, but PAM operatives have managed to pull off a media bluff that could well boost its appeal among young and women voters.

Candidate Meryem Daâli (PAM- Casablanca My Rashid) the ballot picture doesn't do her justice (Aufait Maroc picture)

As per her own statements to the press, Mrs. Daâli is not some idealistic activist trying to prove herself worthy of public office, but rather because her mother broached her on the subject, and she didn’t mind signing up as a PAM-PAM girl (sorry for the pun, and I can assure the reader there is no misogynist intent behind it)

Pour quelles raisons participez-vous aux élections? Est-ce que votre mère, Farida Naïmi, est derrière votre choix ?

Ma participation aux élections intervient dans la conjoncture que vit le Maroc qui dicte à tous les segments de la société, en particulier les jeunes, de réagir collectivement en laissant de côté la protestation, en contribuant aux réformes politiques et en participant dans des institutions. Et sans rien vous cacher, ma mère, qui est conseillère parlementaire, m’a ouvert la voie vers cette participation sous les couleurs du Parti de l’ Authenticité et de la Modernité.

But families ties in Moroccan politics are not rare commodity. In fact it is hardly the case not to find some remote family connections between candidates and incumbent politicians, sometimes across party lines; I particularly like the PEDD ballot candidates, where it seems -but I am not sure- that two family members have been accredited to contest the same district: MM. Ahmed & Yahya Ouadoudi really do look like Father & Son, don’t they? In a different district, that’s the whole family contesting the election: There are three Bourkalen PAM candidates contesting for Tinghir district (Souss-Massa) and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that n°2 and n°3 and n°1’s offspring.

There are some well-known politicians running for office (yet again) or challenging others to it; Abdelouahed Radi, USFP grandee and Premier is running for a 7th time since 1963 -if he manages to pull this off, he is going to retain his seat for almost half a century. He is standing for the newly re-drawn Sidi Slimane district (Gherb Chrarda) against Ismail Alaoui, former PPS leader, and PJD candidate Abdelouahed Bennani (Princess Royal Lallal Salma’s uncle). Blood ties, it seems, are the best insurance in the business of Moroccan politics.

Some VIP ministers, businessmen and distinguished party leaders are also joining the race:

Aziz Akhnennouch, Gaz distribution tycoon, Agriculture minister and RNI grandee, is the RNI candidate for Tiznit seat, a seat few parties are contesting (although 4 out 5 competing parties are nationwide)

Salaheddine Mezouar, RNI leader and most likely next Head Of Government, is standing as a candidate in Meknes, against PJD challenger (and incumbent) Representative Abdellah Bouanou

Yasmina Baddou, Health Minister and Representative for Casablanca (Anfa – Istiqlal) is standing for re-election, the same as Rep. Ouadi Benabdellah (Anfa – RNI) and Rep. Abdelbari Zemzami (Anfa – PRV)

Rep. Hamid Chabat (Fès – Istiqlal) is also standing for re-election (with an expected comfortable margin of victory) USFP is putting up Immigration Minister Mohamed Ameur as a challenger.

Driss Lachgar (Rabat) Ahmed Reda Chami (Fez) Karim Guellab (Casablanca) Abdelilah Benkirane (Salé) and Mohand Laenser (Boulemane) are but a few party heavyweights rushing for seats, some of them will not successfully carry. Head Of Government hopeful candidate PJD Sâadedine Othamni has changed for the third time his seat, this time standing for Mohammedia seat.

There are also some “Heirs to the Partisan seat” competing for seats, with Istiqlal and USFP: Ali Yazghi (n°2) and Aiman Aghmani (n°17)  for USFP, and n°8 Abdelmjid Fassi (from our very own Kennedy family) to name but a recognizable few.

For more VIP candidates La Vie Eco listed a few of these.

Moroccan Elections for the Clueless Vol.11

Why is parliament doing such a poor job in scrutinizing government? The image of a hilarious Rep. Yasmina Baddou and Health Minister embodies the symbol of the degree of contempt the elected executive holds parliamentary oversight.

True, many of our representatives might be utterly incompetent and generally corrupt, but as long as the bulk of members of parliaments are elected on the basis of family ties, or because of their notability status, ministers and governmental officials can always laugh away from accountability.

First off, even if a handful of representatives are keen on doing their job, they are constrained by the small budget allocated to their institution; the 2011 Budget allocate MAD 271.5 Million;In fairness, about the same amount is allocated to the lower chamber (235Mln) which means the legislative branch has an overall financial stipend of 0.17% of total Budget expenses.

It still is way below the proper funding for all elected representatives to conduct proper investigative work on the executive. Why bang on the discrepancies in budget terms? Because money conditions resources and funds power and political importance: I understand parliament has aForeign Affairs, Islamic Issues and National Defence committee, and there are, among the 30-strong group of representatives, some very able, public-spirited individuals that would carry on their duties frightfully well.

A poorly-funded branch of government cannot carry on properly its duties in a truly democratic regime

However, are they allocated the proper resources to scrutinize, for instance, the budget allotted to the Armed Forces? Budget Bill for 2011 funds the Armed Forces some MAD 58Bn (Art.44) but it seems our representatives do not have what it takes to exercise proper oversight on these spendings; Theoretically, they can always ask for details, convene to audition officials at the liaison ministry in charge of national defence, or even attach amendments if they deem spendings are not justified. But they don’t. Perhaps out of incompetence, or lack of proper resources to provide them with relevant information, or simply because they don’t care.

The point is, the legislative branch has no mean to assert its power over the executive, and that shows primarily in its financial resources; but is it fair to equate material resources with political power? yes; whenever members of parliament need to carry out an inquiry, or set up a study on a particular issue, they need to rely primarily on the good will of administrative and executive officials, who can very well refuse to cooperate or disclose relevant information. Rep. Brahim Zerkdi (who’s modern enough to have a twitter account, alongside Rep. Khalid Hariry) points out the poor level of human resources at their disposal, and goes as far as to agree that the ministries have a certain advantage in dealing with specific issues, mainly because they can afford to.

So financial support plays a crucial role in shaping up political balance of powers; the trouble for parliament is the potentially unpopular with the public opinion, and even if they try it, they will have to almost beg the money off the finance ministry.

Rep. Zekdi (MP - Agadir Ida Ou Tanane) agrees Minefi has an unfair advantage in preparing the Budget Bill

These unbalanced ties between the legislative and executive branches of government could go unnoticed or even justified, especially when one puts them into context: after all, the Treasury department in the United Kingdom is almighty, and under then-Chancellor Gordon Brown, it was an executive fortress within a Blair-led Prime Ministerial fortress. The trouble is, both Gordon Brown and Anthony Blair were elected Members of Parliament (respectively Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath, and Sedgefield) and thus, can claim some popular mandate on their own.

Many of our ministers are not elected, though; indeed, the one holding the cash -Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar- has long been considered a bland, un-partisan and vaguely technocratic figure.In these circumstances, the obvious benchmark for a genuine parliamentary monarchy goes right out of the window in favour of a United Congress-like scrutiny, where elected representatives are the ones re-writing the budget -considering a government in Morocco needs a parliamentary majority.

It is in our nation’s best interest to have the strongest possible coalition government after November 25th elections, in addition to a stronger parliament oversight by reconsidering the budget-writing process, so as to get representatives involved with the process as early as possible; then, an increase in their budget will not only be necessary, but actually desirable from a public opinion point of view; additionally the deadlocks of “money with no power” that have so perverted elected politicians will give way to genuine accountability;

At the heart of our institutional dysfunction is this seemingly conundrum: “can we trust elected politicians with genuine political power?” Yes. So far, concentrating power within the hands of a small clique of unelected officials hasn’t done any better, and how ever incompetent the elected bunch are, they will be whipped up by public anger if they don’t carry on their job properly. The fear of systematic electoral retribution could well prove to be a much sought panacea.

Moroccan Elections for the Clueless Vol.6

“The Happy Warrior”

The Far-West of Moroccan Politics

The great news is that we shall have at most three big blocks of political coalition competing for the next election. Whether the next Head of Government will be a coalition-builder or a whipping bully will be determined post ante, depending on the leader’s personality of course, but also those partners he would have managed to bring together.

The operating assumption throughout this post will be that the next government is likely to have more room for manoeuvre, and will be given an opportunity to run its own show (with little interference from above) As a matter of fact, competition is likely to be more intense if the office is worth it.

The first lesson of modern politics is more or less understood, even though the announcement of an alliance 6 weeks before elections smells of raw electioneering, with our politicians ready to do whatever it takes to get a grip of power before the fight (and not, as we usually witnessed, after the election itself) Next time, they will put some elaborate spin to make it look like a matter of high principles and noble politics.

So, rumour has it RNI is standing up as an Aunt’s Sally for PAM, as the leading partner of the Democratic Alliance. This is so in order to deflect criticism about Mr Cheikh Biadillah’s party (and through him, Fouad Ali Himma) leading – in all probability- the next government. Still, Mr. Biadillah can always claim the Prime Ministerial prize in the even of an Alliance landslide (because anything short of a 7% swing will be a quasi-defeat, as we shall see later on) Lest we forget, the third major partner in this coalition has yet to state his claim too, and could be in the position to ask for the leadership, considering his caucus’ size. Even though he seems quite content with his current (honorific) position as Minister of State, Mr Laenser is expected to get a senior ministerial posting in the event of an Alliance government (perhaps the Interior Ministry, in the even this “Sovereign Ministries” ridiculous concept is dropped altogether). Past press declarations on behalf of Mr. Abied, UC leader, have ruled himself out of a leadership bid by pushing for an alliance with PAM party (perhaps in exchange of a position in the cabinet, a return to government policies after a 20 years absence)

Assuming government coalition shifts to fit the electoral coalitions, the present parliament gives a slight advantage to the Alliance

At this stage, the Alliance Caucus has a plurality of seats, but not enough to claim absolute majority in the house. However, because it gathers large caucuses, it out-guns the standard Koutla and PJD added caucuses. Furthermore, and because constituency boundaries have not been changed much (or changed at all) those seats held by the Alliance are proving  to be a valuable asset: their constituencies are spread across the electoral map, with a heavy emphasis of the ultimate “Vote Winner” in Moroccan politics ever since 1960: the rural hinterlands.This is so because their electability ratio is, on average, lower than national mean and relative to their opponents, the Koutla and PJD. They even have a robust electoral base in or around large cities: Fès, an Istiqlal and PJD stronghold, is surrounded by MP-held districts (including that of Mohand Laenser Boulmane constituency) same goes for Casablanca where RCU (mainly UC) caucus control one seat out of four in the metropolitan ring.

The PJD leadership, the expected winner of the next election, knows their party is stretched to a maximum in terms of potential captured seats. They can always hope to gain a dozen more (and they can increase their caucus from 46 to around 60 quite easily) but cannot go beyond it, while retaining their outsider image and rigorous screening of candidates.  Their constituency has been more or less properly sized up with the 2007 elections, as they share similar constituencies with Koutla members (USFP and PI) or kick them out entirely: in Agadir USFP held forth, but in Casablanca and Rabat USFP has now only a token presence, Istiqlali Fès and Larache are seriously threatened by PJD. It is obvious then that any gains PJD would register on November 25th will be almost certainly be harvested on USFP and PI fields. Strangely though, that only makes a deal between Koutla and PJD even more plausible: after all, PJD board members did vote for Fathallah Oualalou (USFP) as Rabat Mayor, even though they had the votes to nominate one of their own. And it is precisely because of PJD’s willingness to negotiate with USFP and PI that a new Koutla could be envisaged to take the fight outside and up to the Alliance candidates on marginal constituencies.

Scenario 1: (hypothetical) negotiations fall short between Koutla and PJD.

Landslide Majority scenario for the Alliance

This is mother’s milk for the Alliance: because Koutla and PJD have to fight over similar constituencies, Alliance leadership can even go a step further by coordinating candidacies across the electoral map, so as to maximize their chances as the future government coalition;  they can, in effect, govern with a historic majority of more than 50% of house seats, and, supposing they have already worked out their cabinet appointments, would put to work their team right away.

Turnout could well play in the hands of the Administrative-Union-Moderate Islamists-Green Left coalition (more conveniently referred to as A8, no pun intended) a 7% favourable swing means a net gain of 23 seats, or, assuming an average turnout of 60%, around 650,000 votes to get the caucus growing at an absolute majority level. Could it be done? Quite possible, and the potential gains are very concentrated in urban areas: in Casablanca (including Minister Yasmine Baddou‘s own district) are up for grabs, Beni Mellal and Essaouira to point but a few (there’s also an opening in El Jadida as Rep. Khalid Hariry announced he wasn’t standing next election). As a matter of fact, about 3,400 voters per seat get to decide, on average, to where it should go; a 7% swing, in essence, remains a very plausible assumption, even with low turnout.

Scenario 2: Super-Koutla and the emergence of a two-coalitions system.

Perhaps the most exciting (yes, I know…) outcome would be the Koutla moving into its third version (after 1970 and 1992) by welcoming PJD to its bosom. It is not like they did not have the opportunity to rule out absolutely any future alliance. The joint interviews conducted by Driss Lachgar and Mustapha Ramid, as well as the vote of confidence in Mr Oualalou as Rabat Mayor by PJD board members shows that both at a political and local level, experiences of cooperation do exist, and both parties seem content with it.

Hung parliament, assuming both coalitions hold steady; the outcome might actually benefit partisan politics

As for Istiqlal, their egalitarian creed, mixed with their Allal Fassi-era social conservatism makes them workable and amenable partners to PJD. These strange bedfellows actually bring benefits to each others: PJD leader Abdelillah Benkirane admitted his party lacked the technocratic operatives needed to run a government; USFP and PI, on the other hand, can always hire some of those. In exchange, the old-Koutla members (including the PPS junior partner) retain their seats in parliament and government, though a bit diminished because of the new member’s rising start.

And so, the prospect of a hung parliament, with two coalitions holding 46-48% of total seats, should not be ruled out either. That’s where the Head of Government’s personality comes into effect; Because government coalitions in Morocco are notoriously weak: parties cannot enforce voting discipline, let alone enforce it at a coalition level. On the other hand, a strong-willed government leader (whether Super-Koutla or A8) with a dedicated cabinet team can carry out those policies they have been elected upon.

I would like to think that if these coalitions hold forth through the election and beyond, some new kind of politics, dictated by the need to stay in government (or at least avoid being denied  the perks of the office) could transform partisan politics into more stable (and dare I say, more ideologically homogeneous) government coalitions that would, within those constitutional constraints binding politicians, actual put together coherent policies, whether right-wing neo-liberalism or left-wing populism, we need a clear political playing field so as to determine responsibility, and so hold those implementing policies accountable to the will of their electors.

Both scenarios do not rule each others’ out: they are but two ends of an infinite variation spectrum. I might be growing more and more idealistic about parliamentary and government work, but so far, even though I loath almost all mainstream politicians up there, I believe it is counter-productive to systematically disparage and belittle their work. They are, after all, spending taxpayer’s money. A watchful eye and documented criticism might well change patterns of behaviour among the old boys.

Moroccan Elections for the Clueless Vol.5

A quick-and-dirty post:

8 political parties have just announced some sort of electoral alliance for November 25th.

from right to left: Abdelkrim Benâtik (PT) Mohamed Abied (UC) Mohand Laenser (MP) Abdelmjid Bouzoubâa (PS) Mohamed Fares (PGV) Salahedine Mezouar (RNI) Cheikh Biadillah (PAM) Mohamed Khalidi (PRV) and a 9th person I couldn't identify (photo via facebook)

Note:for the record, the inflationary number of political parties in Morocco compels me to delineate exactly each party’s name.

PT: Parti Travailliste (centre-left)
UC: Union Constitutionnelle (neo-liberal right)
MP: Mouvement Populaire (conservative right)
PS: Parti Socialiste (populist-left)
PGV: Parti de la Gauche Verte (environment-left)
RNI: Rassemblement National des Indépendants (centre-right)
PAM: Parti Authenticité et Modernité (ultra-monarchist)
PRV: Parti de la Renaissance et de la Vertu (moderate islamist)

This is great, isn’t it? This Alliance for Democracy gathers a super-caucus of 156 seats, an a motley of parties from across the political spectrum: Benâtik and Bouzoubâa are very close to labour-unions (a handy card if this coalition ever gets to form the next government) and could manage to broker deals for any future painful spending cuts; Laenser, Mezouar and Biadillah are leaders of large political parties with a nationwide representation, strong caucuses and extensive government experience, Khalidi, a former PJD member, could well prove to be an experimental device for moderate Islamists in government (I would personally follow with great interest what Representative Abdelbari Zemzami, a PRV member, could do as a Habus and Islamic Issues Minister) as for Dr. Farès, I suppose the alliance needed the “Democratic Left” brand, since the Green Left Party has been founded by Omar Zaïdi, a former Radical leftist and member of PSU (and the amazing thing with leftists, they do not completely sever ties with former comrades, yet another handy backroom channel)

Is this motley of political parties likely to win an election? The law of electoral mathematics in Morocco knows no Euclidean constraints: in 1977 and 1984, respectively Independent and UC candidates wiped the electoral floor with older and much more organized parties. The parallel is not very accurate, but the Koutla, save perhaps for their respective pre-independence history, cannot claim to be anywhere more homogeneous than this Alliance. Plus it displays clear lines between Senior/Junior partners: Assuming this alliance retains a similar number of seats, it is a safe bet to assume it will hold itself together all the way up to 2016.

What about the other parties? USFP and Istiqlal will feel genuinely threatened by the PAM-UC-RNI-MP core alliance, and will try to seal a deal by reactivating and strengthening the old-times Koutla, perhaps by including Khyari’s FFD, or even seriously reconsider their position with PJD. The latter is even more threatened by any electoral bloc that would, in effect, put it in an unconformable minority position.

Political leaders, it seems, are beginning to understand a free-for-all isn’t going to work. The leader of a political alliance, on the other hand, has reasonable chances to become the next Head of Government. We shall expect announcements on future electoral alliances very soon.