The Constitution, The Monarchy, and Social Movements in Morocco

Friday the 17th, 2001 at 9 pm, Moroccans were all ears listening to the speech of the King on the new constitution; in his Speech the King talked about ten foundations of the constitution. Before his speech, there were rumors circulating about the contents of the new constitution and a heated debate on the role of Islam in the new constitution; the Amazigh language whether to get an official or a national status. The PJD lobbied so that Islam should be the official religion of the state; the Amazigh Movement also put more pressure to constitutionlize the Amazigh language. There was also an online version of the constitution shared by people in the Facebook and other social websites. This is the first time in history that an electronic version of a legal text has appeared before the king talked about it. This means that either intelligence measure people’s reactions before the king’s speech or one of the political parties have leaked the information on the net. Importantly enough, from now on the king and the Makhzen has to compete with the internet in the era of the Arab Spring and the aftermaths of the 20th February Movement.
Today, the 19th June 2011, the Movement is organizing manifestations all over Morocco claiming a Parliamentarian Monarchy and responding to the king’s speech; the Movement is unsatisfied about the constitution and considers it insufficient for democratic Morocco. The king and the Makhzen again have to compete with a real movement that is pushing for more real democracy and real reforms. The language of the new constitution s very democratic in the sense that it is inspired from the new jargon of good governance, human rights, equality and justice, solidarity and social capital, gender equity and parity, universalism and particularism,… a language only politologues and social scientists understand maybe because of the nature of the people in the commission (most of them professors of political science); apart from language, it is very short and sandwich-like, easy to digest but very hard to apply; how all these is going to translate in the public sphere? There are many scenarios.
The first scenario is that more than 80% of Moroccans are going to vote with a yes bearing in mind that all political parties with one or two exceptions are for the new constitution. They are convinced that they are satisfied with it simply this is what they used to demand. Before the 20 Feb Movement, no political party dared to ask for reforming the constitution with one exception: USFP; but the USFP did send a document to the king secretly on their constitutional demands. It is the first time in history that a movement in the streets and with no priory political or social existence asked for the change in the constitution.
The second scenario (imaginary this time) is that the king will ask the commission again to readjust the constitution to fit what the people are asking for. The third scenario is that 50% of Moroccans will say no to the new constitution; the king has to appoint a new commission to appeal to the people. The third scenario is…I will not tell you because this all wishful thinking. In reality, the new constitution has been approved legally by the council of ministers with the presence of the king so t will appear in the official newspaper; practically, we have a new constitution whether we like it or do not. Political parties now have to do the parroting, people should go and vote and I consider it a pre-electoral campaign for the coming elections of the coming October. It is training for the political parties after a long hibernation.
What does lay men said: will this change our daily life?!