Morocco’s robust economy may mitigate unrest
27 April 2011
On 24 April, about 20,000 Moroccans took to the streets in the country’s major cities to call for a constitutional monarchy and protest against the slow speed of change.
The peaceful demonstrations were organised by the February 20 movement, named after the date of Morocco’s first countrywide protests this year. Demonstrators called for political, social and economic reforms, and an end to corruption, which is estimated to account for a loss of about 2 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
10 March 2011
The opposition is calling for Morocco to become a constitutional monarchy, but King Muhammad IV instead wants to pursue a slower pace of reform.
- MD15bn ($1.8bn) added to the subsidy fund to counter a global increase in commodity prices
- Social and Economic Council has been created to advise government on reforms
- Commitment to constitutional reforms
Political Risk assessment
The king’s popularity and the relative openness of Moroccan society means it is unlikely to see disruptive protests.
23 February 2011
The Moroccan government has responded to the threat of unrest, spreading from neighbouring Algeria, and elsewhere in the Arab world, by pumping extra funds into the economy. It hopes the move will be sufficient to remove the underlying causes of social tension.
In mid-February, the government said it planned to add about $1.8bn to its state subsidy fund, the Caisse de Compensation, almost doubling its size. The move is ostensibly part of a longer-term objective to offset the impact of rising global commodity prices on the country’s poor, but the timing suggests worries over possible unrest quickened the decision.
Since Tunisia’s regime was toppled in January, Morocco’s opposition newspapers have been predicting a wave of social protest, but it has yet to materialise. Morocco’s Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri has suggested unrest in the region could be used as a pretext to foment trouble in its volatile Western Sahara region, the cause of a long-running armed conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front, which has backing from Algeria.
Morocco’s robust economy may mitigate unrest. International rating agencies Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s have said Morocco is least likely to be affected by the regional unrest.