ELECTIONS IN MOROCCO AND KING MOHAMMED IV:
MODERN CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY
By Morocco News Agency Staff
Rabat, Morocco --- November 22, 2011 ..... The November 25, 2011, parliamentary elections constitute a historic turning point in Morocco’s evolution into a Western-style Constitutional Monarchy. Morocco has been undergoing a process of democratization and governance modernization since the mid-1999 ascent to the throne of King Mohammed VI.
The process is culminating in the just launched constitutional reforms that in effect put Morocco on an irreversible course to Constitutional Monarchy. The new Constitution would be submitted to implementation by the government and parliament in the aftermath of the parliamentary elections of November 25, 2011.
Morocco is a hereditary constitutional monarchy presently structured on the basis of the Constitution adopted in 1972. It is ruled by the immensely popular Alaouite Dynasty which had ruled Morocco for more than 400 years (since 1666). After the November 25 elections, Morocco will evolve further into a Constitutional Monarchy on the basis of the new Constitution which was ratified in a popular referendum on July 1, 2011. The elections were advanced by about one year in order to expedite the adoption of the new Constitution and the profound reform process associated with it. (The last parliamentary elections were held on September 7, 2007, for a five-year parliament.)
Presently, the King serves as the head-of-state, with executive power exercised by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, which is appointed by and responsible to the King. The King also has the power to dissolve the legislature and initiate revisions in the constitution. The elections and the implementation of the Constitutional reforms at the national level will give significantly more powers to the political parties, the parliament and the government. Significantly, the reforms abolish the King’s nominated Prime Minister and power-ministers and replacing them with individuals selected by the winning party or coalition and confirmed by Parliament - thus reducing the King’s hands-on involvement in governance.
Moreover, the Constitution guarantees the full equality of women and the rights of minorities, criminalizes torture, and establishes the independence of the judiciary. The King would remain “the trustworthy guide and supreme arbiter.” The new Constitution will “enshrine citizenship-based monarchy and the citizen king.”
Presently, Morocco has a Bicameral Parliament. The Majlis al-Nuwab/Assemblée des Répresentants (Assembly of Representatives) has 325 members, elected for a five-year term in multi-seat constituencies. The Majlis al-Mustasharin (Assembly of Councilors) has 270 members, elected for a nine-year term, two-fifths elected by the people and three-fifths elected by elected local councils. After the November 25 elections, the Assembly of Representatives will have 395 seats - 70 more than in 2007. These seats were set by special legislation passed by the Moroccan Council of Ministers on September 9, 2011, in order designed to guarantee proper representation to younger generations and women.
The 70 additional new seats are thus reserved for women and younger deputies in order to ensure that parliament is more modern and reflective of the true face of society despite hold onto power by veteran party leaders.
Preliminary data attests to both the vibrant democracy and the challenges ahead. Some 30 parties are vying for seats in the new Parliament. The suffrage is universal for all over the age of 21.