Morocco’s constitution, which according to official figures received the endorsement of 98 per cent of voters in a popular referendum in early July, promises to change the balance of power between the king and other branches of state. But there is a real possibility that when it comes to the implementation of the new measures, there will be no such change.
Certain concessions have been made. But the most striking thing about the new constitution is not what changes, but what remains the same.
The king will continue to be the head of the army. His position as the head of the Muslim faith in Morocco is reinforced. He will continue to preside over those cabinet meetings that are of strategic importance to the country, including those concerning military matters or major policy changes.
The lack of precision as to what constitutes a major policy change means that, in theory, the king can take control over any cabinet meeting that he deems important. The supposed empowerment of the prime minister would therefore be rendered null and void.
The weakness of the party political system itself is another major concern. The support for the changes of the country’s largest parliamentary parties, Istiqlal and the Justice and Development Party (PJD), is no surprise. Istiqlal, ostensibly an opposition party, is widely regarded as having been co-opted by the monarchy in return for being allowed to operate unhindered. The PJD, meanwhile, is similarly criticised for prioritising its own standing over a genuine political platform.
If popular demands for greater political representation and an improvement in the standard of living for the kingdom’s citizens are to be met, then this submissiveness has to change.
If it does not, the protests led by the 20 February movement will continue, and political stability, rather than being assured by the constitutional changes, could instead be further disrupted.