Morocco: Election results brings hope to the region | Middle East Monitor

In the context of the struggle between the waves of revolution and counter-revolution in the MENA region Morocco witnessed local and regional elections this week, the first after the constitution amendments of 2011. The elections, held on 4 September, are also the first since 2011 in which political actors agreed on a final version of the regionalisation project, whereby each of the country’s 12 regions will be led by an elected council with wide economic, human, infrastructural, environmental and cultural development capacities. In a sense, the 2015 elections mark another step in the post-Arab spring Morocco and another opportunity to examine the outcome of the country’s “reform under stability” paradigm. The lesson for Morocco is that the potential failure of the paradigm will immediately tarnish the whole diplomatic, political and reform effort that started in 2011. In the run up to the elections, Morocco feared that foreign pressure would restrict the participation of Islamists in a free and fair way. That pressure was eventually diminished through a tandem of internal and external factors; while the former manifested itself in governmental reforms, the latter included the change in the Saudi leadership, the eruption of the war in Yemen and the signing of the Iran nuclear deal. These events pushed local actors to shift the focus away from curbing the outcome of the Arab Spring, especially since attempts to smother the post-Arab Spring nascent democracies has generated chaos across the region. The difficult lesson of the past four years has been that it is despotism that threatens stability in the region, not respecting public will.

Around 1.1 million new voters registered on Morocco’s electoral lists last August, 46 per cent of whom were women. Certainly, the widespread discussions of women’s freedom and the female quota in election lists have increased gender visibility in Moroccan politics. A Ministry of Interior press release revealed that 70 per cent of the new voters applied online while the rest approached administrative offices directly. The lesson from this is that the recent elections exemplified a further effect of the Internet in the democratisation process in Morocco, as well as indicating the fact that less bureaucracy encourages more political involvement.

In the final results, the Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM) ranked first with 6,655 local seats. The PAM was challenged in the 2011 protests as a symbol of despotism, especially since it was founded by Fouad Ali Elhimma, an advisor to the King. Yet, administrative intervention was quite absent. This year, the PAM has focused significantly on rural areas; as a consequence, they were able to reserve around 700 rural seats before the polling day since their candidates had no opponents.

Full Article: Morocco election results brings hope to the region.

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