The Moorish Wanderer

Predictions for the 2016 Elections, Part.3

Posted in Flash News, Intikhabates-Elections, Moroccan ‘Current’ News, Morocco, Read & Heard by Zouhair ABH on November 10, 2012

Marginal seats per large party turned out to be quite a fascinating subject: each party has its strongholds – even marginals. It also shows that out of the 83 marginal seats, only 36 are actually in play. So here’s my first set of predictions as to the 2016 configuration for parliamentary caucuses:

1/ Barring exceptional surge in favourable turnout, PJD cannot hope to achieve anything near 153 seats on local ballot, for two basic reasons: first, its electoral distribution does not allow systematic strong probabilities to carry at least 2 seats per large district, and second, other parties have stronger probabilities to hold districts quite important for PJD to reach 153. Its best case scenario is that of an increased plurality to 121 – that is, a surge of additional 394,000 voters, either pinched from the competitors in these seats, or new electors.

PJD can expect some pick ups next election, but needs to take a close look at some endangered seats they could lose by less than 2% of the votes.

Either way, PJD cannot perform 30% more in very competitive districts when they find it difficult to deliver a 7.3% nationwide swing. So ix-nay on the Absolute Majority, Morocco carries on with a PJD-dominated coalition government on 2016. This is simple arithmetic: an absolute majority in parliament means 198 seats, or 153 on the local ballot. In order to achieve it, there is the need for each contender party so secure a plurality of votes from the 92 districts. It so happens the present system requires the winner, in order to govern by themselves, to carry at least 47 of the 92 districts to have a chance to get 153 seats on local ballot, on the basis of past electoral performance in turnout (hence controlled for party ‘leadership’) some districts are an absolute winner – because they have a lot of seats, or because registered population and turnout is high enough to make them essential to the ‘winning district coalition’. Alternatively, First Past the Post provides more favourable conditions for strong parliamentary majorities – but then again, this would shake up a consensus across partisan and political lines (Makhzen and many of its dissidents oppose it vigorously)

The methodology is simple enough: start by listing districts with decreasing highest turnout, and sum their corresponding seats until 153 is reached (by the current number of seats, the absolute majority is 155, but that’s close enough) then look at the last district to make up for the absolute majority: Essaouira. Bad news for PJD or PI – the most likely (albeit a small one) to have a certain electoral distribution able to deliver a super-majority.each of these essential districts is controlled by strong majorities of different parties. A simple look at the map opposite shows it: it is even worse news for PJD because some of its regional strongholds (like Tangier) does not account much in the path to 153. This is why I predict, on the basis of its past electoral performance, it cannot acquire the required 65 additional seats.

Essaouira is the last district needed to get the super-majority. A truly stable party government would value its district as much as anything else.

2/ There is a considerable chance PJD, PI and RNI might lose more seats than gain some, because most of their marginals are very competitive – i.e. challengers are close enough to change the electoral outcome in 2016 with only a dozen of votes per district. On the other hand, PAM, UC and to a lesser extent, USFP and MP could gain moderately; Overall, and bearing in mind the initial assumption of a stable turnout, the 2016 parliament ins unlikely to change much, other than transfer 25 seats one way or the other.

Souad Boulaich El Hajraoui: 55 votes majority (0.31%)

Abdellatif Rachid: 722 votes majority (2.02%)

Abdellah Benhammou: 942 votes majority (2.32%)

Mohamed Slimani: 601 votes majority (2.41%)

It is worth pointing out that these predictions do not take into account PPS’ own chances, as well as the expectations for the smaller parties in Parliament. It is clear however these will have slimmer chances to be represented again in parliament.

3/ The majority party with a vote plurality, and leader of the government coalition, PJD, will have to look very closely to 18 districts with 66 seats to achieve the 153-absolute majority threshold, that is, gathering between 217,000 and 268,000 additional votes, while maintaining or expanding their majorities. And again, it is quite unlikely, unless some surge in favourable voter registration and turnout allows it. In absolute numbers, the 2011 election brought to the polls about the same number of voters in 1984, respectively 4.5 Mln and 4.32 Mln (even as registered and likely voters population surged 60% and 67% respectively) Based on weighted averages of past electoral performances (weighted so as take into account time lags) turnout for 2016 is likely to stabilise itself around 4.5 and 5.1 Million votes – that is 38.3% and 42.7% (this does not take into account invalidated ballots, so official turnout could well be a little above 50%) but this turnout sustains itself only through an increased share of disenfranchised Moroccans, where registration rate would drop from 72% in 2007, to 60% in 2011, and a little under 51%.

Overall, it seems unlikely the present parliamentary configuration would change significantly, as far as the big parties (those controlling 95% of the seats) are concerned: there are few competitive seats (of theoretical 92 seats, only 84 could are actual marginals, and only 36 could actually change majorities)

Lower The Age Vote to 16 – Why It Could Bolster Turnout over the Long Run

Posted in Intikhabates-Elections, Moroccan History & Sociology, Morocco, Read & Heard by Zouhair ABH on March 8, 2012

Vote at 16. Why not?

I guess the first counter-argument goes on how critical these new electors can be on the overall turnout. What if in spite of this new enfranchised population, turnout was still low? Well, we can always run the numbers and prove that an election does not need to carry more than 51% of total votes to be popular. I posted on it a couple of months ago, but we can go over it once more: the present system both restricts and allows for an absolute majority with fewer votes.

Computations assume full turnout, full registration of all Moroccan adults per HCP estimates.

The total number of adult Moroccans for 2012 is about 22 Million individuals;  assuming all of them are registered, it can be easily proved a political organization (a coalition or a single party) can carry 198 seats with less than 11 Million votes. Indeed, there are about 55,700 votes per seat, and 22.7% of these seats are just a projection of local ballots. But then again, one has to take into account the 6% threshold to qualify for a public refund; that leaves the total actual vote to 52,300:1. Furthermore, since 41% of slots opened on all 92 districts carry 3 seats, hence carrying an average 3.3 seats per district, the total number of seats actually needed to carry 2 seats out of 3 opened on 92 districts in absolute majority is 55%, with the final result of 28,700 votes, thus bring the theoretical number of votes required to carry an absolute majority to 4.4 Million votes. And that assumes a 100% turn-out and no rejected or blank ballots. In the final analysis, it doesn’t take 11 Million votes to get an absolute majority at the House of Representatives-and thus control parliament, not even half of it; overall, 20% of all Moroccan adults can do it, democratically and in spite of all the gerrymandering one might think of.The figure of course, decreases commensurately quicker as the turnout declines, since the actual electorate is computed on the basis of voter turnout, i.e. on an already smaller slate of decisive voters – it is worth pointing out that many adults cannot vote by law or by deprivation of right: military, auxiliary police force members, current and prison inmates and so on.

In fact, the computations hold even as the current district boundaries allow for significant discrepancies between allocated seats and its demographic size: Tan-Tan has a population of 70,000 including 40,000 adults and gets 2 seats. Mohammedia has 3 seats even though is has a population of 321,000 including 200,000 adults. Mohammedia has one additional seat even though its adult population is five time that of Tan-Tan. Obviously,  a candidate in the former needs only 18,000 votes to gain a slot, 37,000 to carry both. A Mohammedia candidate needs to carry 62,000 for one seat, and 188,000 for their ballot list to carry the whole district. Volatility around the nationwide 28,700 mean does not, however, preclude, at least on paper, the possibility of one party, or a smaller pre-electoral coalition, to carry an absolute majority at Parliament House.

If 20% of all Moroccan adults alone, under the assumption of full turnout, can provide enough votes for a strong majority, there is little to fear from expanding the size of this electorate. In fact, it brings 1.8 Million additional voters, and as it may please sceptics, their relative weight will tend to decrease, from 7.56% of the new total electorate in 2012, to 6.7% of the potential 2016 electorate, an annual average demographic decline of  0.9%. It is quite obvious that their immediate impact in terms of a first-time ‘protest vote’ is quite harmless, since their weight is dangerously close to the 6% threshold. Unless they can mobilize more enthusiastically and make up for a low turnout from other demographic populations. And the whole idea gambled upon is to boost turnout over the years young 16 years-old go to polling stations. Studies show the younger generation is keener to get involved in civic activities, and lower the mandatory age for voting rights can influence this civic enthusiasm to political activism.

Are political parties interested in disenfranchising electors? It seems not. As a matter of fact, they would fight it with all the energy their special interests can summon; most parties do not have active youth organizations, and those who do are often at loggerheads with youthful rivals to an otherwise political gerontocracy. Yet it would serve a lot the political mainstream to mobilize young people very early on; they can build on some strong support that can carry them across elections, a readily available stock of grass-roots activists, and perhaps more ambitiously, to hand-pick early on potential leaders – that is when our political leaders finally come to the conclusion they are not immortals, and their heirs need not be systematically with biological ties.

While 16 years-old can be allowed to vote, can they also stand as candidates? Well, if the case for the voting right gets its point across to the public opinion, I suppose there is little to prevent it as well. After all, the books of law do not explain why the age of 18 was arbitrarily selected, do they?