The Moorish Wanderer

Party Logos Like You Have Never Seen Them Before (or not)

Just some stuff to mess around with and enjoy some well-deserved time-off with Party logotypes.

PAM - Mater from "Cars" 3D Cartoon

PAM and Mater are both sidekicks. they’re there for the show; there might be some goodwill in them, but the action -and thus the attached attention to it- definitely is happening somewhere else. Plus, you know, he might look 3D and all, but at the bottom of it, both Mater and PAM are fundamentally old hands really.

Green Lantern - PJD

God-given powers indeed to Green Lantern! A small party (formerly MPDC) rises from nowhere to fame and popularity, thanks to mysterious green powers (green, incidentally, is the generic colour associated to political Islamism). Frankly, I wouldn’t mind seeing Abdelilah Benkirane dressed in green tights, wearing a mask and holding the Green Lantern in one hand, and smashing his way through with beams from the Green Ring on the other. That would be quite a sight to see.

Guns'n'Roses - USFP

A well-known grown who performed well in the early and mid-1990s, but Guns’n’Roses lost it a bit over the years; just the same for USFP, ageing and unable to reform, and somehow engaging lately in some Chinese Democracy with Abdelouahed Radi re-enlisting as a Representative candidate.

RNI - Twitter

too easy a comparison, but hey, what do you know? As the elections closed in on, a motley of young RNI activists (I should say operatives, these are professional mob, y’know) have flocked to twitter and flooded it with #DixitMezouar and other funny hashtags. Oh, and just like with Twitter, RNI’s manifesto takes place in less than 140 characters. Well done.

Tria - MP

There is nothing like good wheat and flour. MP is as delicious as pasta from Tria. Pity no MP leader looks like Tria’s mascot: bulky, large moustache and endowed with some degree of bonhomie and humour -pretty much like Super Mario, but a Chef instead of a Plumber. Instead they ended up with a soulless technocrat who can barely manage a smile – or a new idea, to that matter.

Wafa Bank - PT

The old Wafa Bank logo (pre merger) kind of suits PT party for only one reason: Abdelkrim Benâatik was a Bank employee before joining up politics. That’s pretty much the only viable similarity I can come up with at the time.

UC - Ferrari

I might have been too indulgent with the party in comparing them to Ferrari. I was first set on Lux battery white horse. But then again, from all parties going downhill ever since they have left office, a bit of polish to an otherwise void-like party wouldn’t do any harm.

The Triumph Of Mediocrity

Posted in Flash News, Moroccan ‘Current’ News, Moroccan Politics & Economics, Morocco, Read & Heard by Zouhair ABH on September 18, 2011

The position of Youth and Sports Minister ranks quite junior in the Moroccan government. But the incumbent minister, Mr. Moncef Belkhayat, has managed with a mixture of gaffes, brazen insolence and cheer populism, to give it some panache, although that pretty picture laboriously put together with an intense PR campaign is bound to come off when it comes to substance. But then again, judging from his fan base, substance isn’t Mr. Belkhayat’s strong suit. The perpetual candidate, kissing babies, holding hands, fondling the taxpayer’s money and hurling verbal abuse to his detractors, however, is a second nature in our minister.

He could have gone down in history as yet another bland minister in an otherwise average cabinet (and our ministers can be, even in their brightest days, very average people) he managed to gain for himself and his department a notoriety many of us will remember him for, long after he is out of office.

At first glance, our minister is “modern”: he is one of the only two ministers, and three public officials (to my knowledge) with a twitter account, and so goes the story, interacts personally on his facebook fanpage too. He has a business degree (supposedly from the best university in the world, ever) and extensive experience in the private sector with prestigious firms like Procter & Gamble and Meditel.

But the carefully-crafted PR picture he seeks to burnish falls apart when it comes to content: he has been frequently accused of embezzlement, cronyism, the works. And yet, still facing these charges with no risk to be impeached or otherwise. I guess that’s what happens when a minister is not appointed by his theoretical boss (the Prime Minister, by the way…)

His “Jebha” has no limit: originally an Istiqlal member, he quickly switches loyalties to RNI prior to his appointment on July 2009 as Youth & Sports Minister. He doesn’t seem to bother much about it, and has been brazenly clear on the subject:

La Vie Eco: Vous étiez toujours istiqlalien. Et puis soudain vous entrez au gouvernement sous l’étiquette Rniste. C’est de la transhumance de haut vol…

M. Belkhayat: L’explication est simple. Nous sommes tous, en tant que personnes, responsables chargés de bâtir et de construire un modèle de société basé sur la modernité du progrès. J’ai toujours affiché un positionnement clair par rapport à cela. J’estime que le RNI et l’Istiqlal se rejoignent sur beaucoup de ces principes. […] comme il y avait des équilibres à préserver, le portefeuille de la Jeunesse et des sports devait revenir au RNI. Et vu que ce parti présente une plateforme politique en ligne avec mes convictions, et de concert avec le RNI, nous avons décidé de faire une transhumance qui est mineure parce que je n’avais aucun rôle dans les instances du PI. Surtout que cela ne va pas à l’encontre des intérêts de l’Etat.

This opportunistic stance takes positively dangerous proportions when, prior to Feb 20 demonstrations, he claims on his Facebook board Feb20 activists are manipulated by lobbies targeting “National Unity”. (I suspect his “A+B” gaffe is in the process to become a Moroccan meme)

Moncef Belkhayat

C’est la preuve par A + B que nos ennemis infiltrent nos réseaux sociaux et qu’il faut qu’on fasse attention. Je vous suggère d’entrer sur le site Bigbrother.ma qui traite du sujet pour contrer cette initiative visant notre intégrité territoriale. Restons mobilisés derrière le projet de société de Sa Majesté le Roi que Dieu l’Assiste. ALLAH ALOUATANE AL MALIK!

Like · · Share · 08 February at 16:41

In any standard-issue democracy, the best thing he would have done after each of his gaffes is to resign, but then again, he has no retribution to expect from his constituents; As a matter of fact, his is a constituency of one, and so far, he doesn’t sound irate about the mischief of little Moncef.

The #A8Gate has triggered some old animosity between USFP and RNI parties, the former accusing the latter of being an administrative party, responsible for the 1977 elections debacle (where Abderrahim Bouabid, USFP Premier at the time, lost to an independent-turned RNI candidate in Agadir, a UNFP-USFP stronghold) and earlier today, the Minister engaged into some very aggressive criticism of what remains a member of governmental coalition; The electoral campaign kicked off very earlier, it seems. But then again, his proverbial clumsiness sheds interesting lights on how our Minister deals with substance, and, among others, how he deals with figures…

Was RNI in opposition during these last 15 years?

According to the Minister, USFP should renew itself after 15 years in power. I respectfully submit to him that RNI has been a major coalition member in all governments since 1977, just the same as Istiqlal. He doesn’t get his facts straight on this one (and on many others) I suspect he has little knowledge of his party’s history, or any knowledge at all of government politics since 1956…

But the Minister also has problems with calculus. For sure, RNI party is a large political organization, and ranks fourth in terms of seats and third in popular vote. But he fails to see that since 1993, his party has lost popular votes. I submit, again respectfully, that he is not even aware of how many votes his party (RNI I mean) has gathered over time. It seems that in his mind, gaining one notch in terms of seats in parliament house necessarily means an increase in the number of popular votes. Coming from someone holding an Experimental Sciences High School diploma, I have doubts over his command on interpreting figures laid before him.

Since 1993, RNI lost 376,873. Hardly a result to boast about.

Now, in 1993 general elections, RNI carried 824,117 popular votes. In 2007, they managed to deliver only 447,244. By contrast, USFP (and Istiqlal for 1993) carried respectively 1,580,723 votes and 408,945. Now, while the minister is right about USFP electorate in decline, his statement about RNI on the rise can hardly stand when one considers the graph below; The minister seems to forget that all major political parties lost votes between 2002 and 2007, and that losing less than one’s competitor is hardly a feat to speak of. On the other hand, he made that extraordinary claim that I should “take into account some changes” in my figures on popular votes. I wonder how, since the numbers I have put before him are actual popular votes, and are, on top of it, official figures only hardcore nihilists would gainsay. Perhaps the Minister is thinking of reversing himself and defect to the Nihilist side, who knows?

Note: in 1993, Istiqlal and USFP contested elections on joint campaign, thus the 1.53 Million carried votes

I have to give credit to Minister Belkhayat. This morning, our tweets-exchange was a fruitful meeting of minds. But then again, he really doesn’t know how to defend himself, or perhaps he didn’t think he was going to be discussing technical matters with a very thorough observer and student of Moroccan politics. I understood, from our exchange, that he has only a superficial knowledge of his (supposedly) party’s electoral score over the last two decades, or indeed how the ballot system can create discrepancies between the number of seats and carried popular vote. He also seemed very shaky on more fundamental, macro-economic facts (that was on an earlier exchange on Twitter too) and made that extraordinary claim on USFP failure in privatizing public assets (an irony, given the minister’s own self-proclaimed economic entrepreneurial neo-liberalism)

I can't tell whether he is in favour or against privatizing IAM...

Again, I fail to find elements buttressing his claim on the total cost of privatization. My argument goes as follows: first, if RNI ministers felt so strongly about privatizing Maroc Telecom, Régie des Tabacs and other public assets between 1998 and 2002, why didn’t they threaten to resign their offices? And how come a party member supposedly embracing supply-side and trickle-down economics rail against such a sound economic policy, from his own ideological point of view? And does he realize he makes a fool of himself by denouncing Maroc Telecom Privatization, and at the same time praise the dividends it generates?

The second argument, already made superfluous by the minister’s very distinguishable flip-flopping, is based on sound data from Bank Al Maghrib: Since 2001 nothing on the Central Bank’s deposits and engagements abroad indicate inflationary exposure, nothing indeed in the vicinity of what the minister referred to (around MAD 10Bn) BAM net foreign reserves have increased steadily at an annual average rate of 5.63% between December 2001 and July 2011. For the record, Régie des Tabacs-Altadis paid some MAD 7Bn to the Finances Ministry, and IAM MAD 3Bn, a total of MAD 10Bn the Minister mistakenly referred to as a drain on public finances.

And finally, I suspect the minister has been behind the extraordinary claim Makassib.ma made on improving minimum wage, and the implication on purchasing power and standards of living. He claims minimum wage increased in real terms. If he is referring to the 2.37% real increase in favour of the bottom 10%, while the über-rich enjoyed a 37% increase in paid dividends, then, yes, there is an improvement in purchasing power.

Our 41 years-old Minister has frequently been portrayed as a young-generation politician, easygoing, forthcoming and tech-savyy. I suggest we have been issued instead with a juvenile version of old style politics. And he doesn’t do his homework very well, too.

Let us now sit back and enjoy our political virtuoso at work:

False Patriotism and Other Tricks

The trouble with events like those we witnessed on May 23rd, is that temptation to say: “I told you so”, where pessimism takes over. The sudden stiffening of security measures -most probably prompted by the May 15th daring picnic project around the Temara security compound– may well be a turning point in the extraordinary times our domestic politics is living through. I have this strange image on my mind of the security apparatus behaving like a wild beast, a bit intimidated by demonstrations on February 20th (and those following on March 20th and April 23th) and definitely entrenched in a hostile defence. But when demonstrators wanted to picnic outside the Temara compound (dumbed Guantemara) the security services’ own lair, the latter stroke back, with their customary violence.

The Dark Side of the (Police/Merda/CMI) Force is taking over, and the Temara headquarters is their Death Star.

Two events put security forces back into the limelight, namely the Marrakesh bombings and the Temara affair. It is basically a sequential, repeated chicken game between the movement and the authorities: at every stage of this process, Feb20 chose the radical outcome, and one way or the other, got away with it. The first stage was the demonstration itself. Regime made some incredible threats, but the demonstration took place nonetheless. Then after the King’s Speech on March 9th, authorities approached the movement for a possible negotiation on the constitutional reforms, they refused to be associated with the commission; At every stage, Feb20 forced the outcome and turned the tables. But the successive blows these last weeks ring out as a recovery of old stick-and-stick policy our security people have been trained and educated for. As a matter of fact, planned demonstration next Sunday, May 29th are going to determine the movement’s next course of action.

If they fail again to mobilize enough people around Morocco, then our Evolution -in contrast with Revolutions in other parts of the MENA region– is likely to be a short fuse, and the Silent Majority, those who do not demonstrate every week, might well slip back into political apathy. This is even more crucial when considering that the movement does not have the power to set the agenda, the King does. And now time is in favour of the constitutional reform process as designed and prepared by Royal advisers; The margin shifts back to the Empire, and the Rebels are so pressed for time.

Referendum day is now scheduled July 1st. This is the only public date available (with no official confirmation yet) and was leaked to the general public, probably as a heads-up to some move in the coming month (June?) on May 18th Khalid Hariry MP mentioned the date on his twitter feed

Proposition Min. Interieur aux partis: “referendum 1 juillet, législatives 7 octobre” ouverture parlement 14 octobre

Mr Hariry may be just an ordinary Member of Parliament, but his social media activism (there aren’t much Moroccan ministers and MPs on twitter, or posting on their personal blogs around) is a convenient way to get the message out about the hidden agenda -first rule of Moroccan politics, the authorities always have a hidden agenda. This is not paranoia, it is only empirical observation. So the Interior Minister tells the MPs that referendum day might be on July 1st, with General Elections on October 7th, and most probably the new parliament in session for October 14th. That means high up, there is confidence these elections will yield some strong majority, or that party leaders will be amenable to any deal presented to them for some government coalition; better still, the old line of ‘national unity’ government following the new constitution might be appealing to mainstream political parties and large scores of Moroccan public.

This ‘rumour’ (there is no official communication about it yet) has also been mentioned by TelQuel Magazine mentioned on their edition May 19th-20th (about the same day) that the Commission has been asked to make haste on their draft:

Dernière ligne droite pour la Commission consultative pour la révision de la Constitution (CCRC). Le cabinet royal aurait demandé à la Commission d’accélérer la cadence afin de rendre sa copie, avant la fin du mois de mai, au lieu de mi-juin. En parallèle, les listes électorales sont en cours d’actualisation dans la perspective du référendum.

So we might be expecting some news on the issue by the end of this week, most likely early June. Are these good or bad news? From the dissidence’s point of view, this is disaster. Because everyday Referendum day gets closer, and when Moroccan citizens go to the polls and vote massively in favour of the proposed draft, then Feb20 movement will lose one of its remaining legitimacies, i.e. a certain representation among the people.

Repression is still there, and kicking. More than ever. (Pic from Demain Online)

I have disillusioned myself quite early on the outcome of this referendum. What I can hope for, on the other hand, is that the combined numbers of boycott (or blank votes) and the ‘No’ Vote would be large enough (say at least 30% of total electoral corps) to build up on a civic platform that would wage large demonstrations from time to time, perhaps venture to publish some alternative proposals, until it forces another reform, this time more amenable to its own agenda. As for the possibility of a swift political confrontation on July or September, or the likelihood of a mass boycott, I foresee it to be very unlikely.

I also keep thinking about the following scenario: the latest declarations of our own Ron Ziegler, Mr Khalid Naciri (Communications Minister and government spokesman) are very worrying, because the explicit criticism made on the May 23rd demonstrations was that Al Adl and Left-wingers (he did not specify which ones, certainly not his own PPS party) manipulated the youth, and were also guilty of their lack of patriotism. After his blunt denial of any torture infrastructure at the Temara Compound, Minister Naciri only confirms his favourite line, which brands dissidents and ‘nihilists‘ as potentially traitors to the nation and fully-paid foreign agents.

When one considers the previous referendums, the late King Hassan II resorted more than often to this ‘Patriotism’ line (this seem to confirm what S. Johnson said about scoundrels and patriotism) to appease opposition parties and elicit their support for his constitutional projects. Istiqlal was more than often ready to do his bidding, but overall Koutla parties held steady, especially on the 1992 Referendum, but not so much on 1996. The subsequent Alternance was also the result of this alluring proposal to save the country. Former Prime Minister Abderrahamane Youssoufi -as well as his USFP party- still justify their compromise by stating that “Morocco was in danger“. All elements indicate the same old tricks will be used and followed by the gullible.

It’s a bit overconfident -and peculiar- of the Interior Minister to tell Members of Parliament about the project of holding elections straight after referendum (spare August for a Ramadanesque truce), and even more brazen, to call parliament in session ten days after elections. It means there’s strong confidence a government with a workable majority has been formed, or that the King stepped in and called for a National Unity government (a governmental consensus built around the new constitution, presumably). I don’t know why I keep thinking about this. Perhaps because for many mainstream politicians, Feb20 has shaken their monopoly over partisan politics, so they would only too obligingly gather and denounce the demonstrations as unpatriotic and revert back to the old accusations of  ‘Commies, Atheists, Faggots, Islamists and Pro-Polisario‘.

Because of the security tightening, the old mantra of Fifth Column accusations will be yet again put to use to discredit the movement. Last Sunday, ordinary citizens stood idly by while demonstrators were beaten up. If things do get worse, the young people might be branded as traitors and lose whatever sympathy they might enjoy among the Silent Majority. This June will certainly turn out to be the moment of truth, both for the constitutional reform and Feb20’s future as an alternative movement.

Polling The Numbers

reforme.ma is a very useful website. Its structure does not help, especially when using a facebook interface with comments from any user on everyone of the 108 articles is counter-productive; judging from the de facto mini-forum on each and every relevant constitutional article, I think the webmasters’ views are not being vindicated here, and so I don’t know if it is the best way to go down the debate on the constitutional reforms.

Furthermore, there’s little information: is it a government-sponsored initiative? Or is it the brainchild of a very enthusiastic web-citizens? Or a little of both? Anyhow, web-users should indeed feel grateful such an initiative took place. And I, among all others, have an additional motivation to feel grateful. Merci. This is a laudable initiative, whatever the person or organization behind it, mainly because it provides raw data more or less adequate for some polling computations. This is not criticism per se, but I just need to square things up about the data itself, and then the way I am putting it to use.

First, I am not a pollster -I know a couple of things about it due to a training I received some years ago- but it seems to me, for all its first-hand quality, this data is very messy, from every aspect of it. For one, asking people to vote Yes/No on every article (and there 108 of them) is not the best way to take the nation into confidence, so to speak. The binary choice tears apart any nuanced views on specific constitutional stipulations, and in matter of constitutional law, so I am told, there’s a great deal of nuance (what I call blurriness) to be observed in the enunciation of such legislation. The set of data therefore loses a great deal of its strength in understanding the kind of believes Moroccans nurse toward their own constitution.

There’s also the problem of sampling: to this date, and according to the website statistics, 144,171 likes/dislikes votes were recorded (and 2647 comments too). Now, the number itself is large enough to qualify as a working sample. and one can reasonably argue randomness properties can be observed with a sample of this size. But in real life, the voting sample’s representativeness is biased, and that is so for many reasons. First, there’s gainsay whether 144,000 physical voters did click on the ‘vote’ button. I personally did not vote down or in favour all articles, and as it happens I voted from two computers (or shall we say from two different IPs) as well.

That’s the mess, and it gets even messier when considering the voting population: no idea about their basic specifications, e.g. gender, demographics, education, geographical location, political allegiances or leanings, etc…. We can also be sure that there are large scores of Moroccan population that are left out of the process: how many of these voters already experienced a referendum in their life? How many voted yes or no on the 1962 referendum? How many of them are illiterate?  What about the rural community or any community with a lower internet connection penetration rate? It is great to record the markedly improved figures ANRT (Agence Nationale de Réglementation des Télécommunications) publishes on internet connection, but surely there are substantial caucuses left out of this informal polling.

Note: I am being very harsh both on the idea of using this data for polling and on the validity of what I will present the readers with, but that is out of intellectual probity. I admit my interpretation will be somewhat partisan (beautifully argued with the use of statistics, but nonetheless skewed towards my side of the story) but then again, it will be the first serious attempt to prize up the nation’s shape of opinions.

Before we get down to business, I noticed a few outstanding votes on some articles, and even more remarkable instances of sensitive ones:

Article 19 has 55% votes in favour (with 45% against) but those with intermediate knowledge in statistics know error margin considerably reduce this seemingly clear win for Art.19 on a sample of 3189 votes (less than 160 votes could swing it back) (I was surprised by how narrow votes were on that particular constitutional roadblock)

Article 21 also shows a similar narrow voting (57% in favour indeed, but that could easily scale back to 50% for a 125 votes swing)

Article 23, on the other hand has a clear win (even with a 5% margin error, 67% is way out of the the error interval, as it takes a swing of 532 votes) and it is quite surprising to record a clear vote down on the article that enshrines the most His Majesty. Other outstanding votes are related to government prerogatives with substantial margins: Article 24 and 25 voted down with respective margins of 84% and 74%. Article 29 that delineates Dahir prerogatives is voted down as well, with a margin of 78%.

Large margins on specific articles, and those relative to the King's prerogatives are surprisingly NOT having the voters' favour

The general configuration of the current constitution is very surprising, and as far as I am concerned, very encouraging (as far as web users are concerned). Unless one is thinking all, or shall we say a substantial part of these voters are Algerian, Zionists, or even Libyan agents provocateurs, those who disliked the Kings powers, namely Articles 24 to 29 (basically the core of His Majesty’s prerogatives) and others on the side, that give the King a greater leverage, on appointing judges, or even chairing seemingly marginal constitutions. Again, setting aside the conspiracy theory, there is a large number (perhaps even larger than the historical 9%) that are fed up with the disproportionate concentration of powers in the royal hands.

What is even more extraordinary, the spread is even larger -in favour of Nay votes- in these very specific articles (24 to 29, 33 and 83 to name a few) and by large spread, I refer to a margin in favour larger than the Yay votes. On the other hand, other dispositions were voted down, related to Parliament as well as Government responsibilities and powers.

This is very encouraging and frustrating at the same time. But first, I should voice my frustration with this web-consultation, not because of its shortcomings, but because it simply underlines the cruel lack of polls in Morocco. Legislative obstructions, defiance towards such interviews from the public, and perhaps a misapprehension of market perspective from polling companies are but a few parameters that can account for the ridiculously low number of polls run in Morocco. This website has done an excellent job in shedding light on it.

I mentioned above the results are encouraging: it means a certain population -whose salient properties remain unknown, unless I can find time to screen 2647 + facebook and twitter profiles,  a certain population that can be receptive of either calls for boycott or voting down (a Nay-l on the coffin of this commission. Pun-time) the draft constitution. It is also frustrating because there is no guarantee whatsoever this commission would hear my voice (read my lines, to be more precise) or draw the accurate conclusions from such vote.

The nihilists are coming, and they are coming to your town… (Let’s see if there’s a post-March 20 spike…)