Since the mid 1990s, Morocco has presented itself as a model of gradual and genuine democratization in the Middle East and North Africa. However, Moroccan democracy continues to face significant challenges, such as the need to include Islamist groups in the political process and strengthen political parties.
The Moroccan Model of Democratization
- Human Rights: Recognition of past human rights abuses by the government and reconciliation with aggrieved groups.
- Greater Participation: Recognition of Morocco’s cultural diversity and the encouragement of minority participation in the government, notably moderate Islamist and leftist parties.
- Women’s Rights: Greater rights and protections for women.
- Power Shift: Moroccan democracy has been marked by a gradual shift of governmental power away from the king and towards elected officials. In the past, for example, the king could nominate anyone to the post of prime minister. Now, his choice is limited to selecting an individual from the winning political party.
- Ministerial Councils: Ministerial councils with a strong mandate and policy influence are held accountable to elected officials.
- Lack of Improvement: Political parties failed to improve in quality and capability.
- Lack of Implementation: Many of the promised reforms (language, gender, human rights) remained constitutionally unimplemented.
Looking to the Future of Moroccan Democracy
- Constitutionally guarantee democratic reforms and empower the judicial system to enforce legislation.
- Better define the legal line that separates private and public spheres, particularly in regards to the rights of minorities.
- Strengthen the political integration and democratic culture of Islamist parties.
- Legally address the pressures of regionalization, including the Western Sahara territory.