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Policy Analysis 26 October, 2011

The Discourse of Change in Morocco

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Rachid Yalouh

Dr. Rachid Yalouh is a Researcher focused on Iranian-Arab relations and domestic Iranian politics, having previously been a journalist specializing in Iranian affairs. To date, he has completed academic research and translations between Arabic and Persian in the fields of culture, media and Iranian Studies. He holds a BA in Arabic Language and Literature from the University of Ibn Zohr in Agadir and an MA in Persian Language and Literature from the Tarbiat Modares University, in Tehran. He completed a PhD on Arab-Persian cultural interactions at Mohammed V University in Rabat. Dr. Yalouh is a member of the Moroccan Association for Oriental Studies.

This paper presents an analysis of some of the themes included in the discourse of change in Morocco, specifically, the rhetoric of the young generation, especially since the outbreak of the Arab revolutions. This discourse combines a commitment to the people's concerns with boldness and clarity, especially in discussing matters of the monarchist regime and the social and economic reality; additionally, proponents of the discourse assert their support for the protests of the February 20 movement, which they view as historic leverage on the quest for a democratic state in Morocco.

Meanwhile, the Moroccan regime has become entrenched in its position following the July 2011 constitutional referendum, viewing the constitutional amendments as the beginning of a new era. Moroccan political parties, on the other hand, are still seeking realistic proofs for the regime's alleged reformist intentions; thus, the question of change in Morocco remains suspended between the will for change and the questions of the future.


Introduction

The question of democracy in Morocco has remained suspended since the independence of the country in 1956, and the royal palace has aborted all attempts to limit the monarchy through popular sovereignty and the establishment of a democratic state. King Hassan II monopolized rule according to the 1962 constitution and faced a ferocious political opposition, as well as two military coup attempts. In the mid-1990s, the King chose a new path under the slogans of "the democratic series" and "the government of alternation," permitting him to draw his opponents towards the regime while disarming them from their historic demands, thereby providing political cover to pass the power to rule to his son Mohammad VI, whose ten years of rule have engendered a Morocco suffering from more crisis and impasses.

The voices calling for a democratic state surpassing the formula of absolute monarchy did not cease, but worked in tandem with Moroccan society, stressing the demands of justice and combating corruption until these voices found their appropriate historical context in the Arab spring, leading to the discourse of change regaining the glimmer of historic political and social demands, in an unprecedented challenge to the repression of the authorities.

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