Parliamentary Elections and Authoritarian Rule in Morocco
Abstract:Regular elections have become a common feature in Moroccan politics. While elections were "contested" as an instrument of control until the mid-1990s, starting with the 1997 parliamentary elections — and followed by those in 2002 and 2007 — Morocco established an electoral system as the keystone of royal power based on limited political participation. At the same time, since 1997 the Moroccan political system has witnessed the arrival of a "newcomer," the Islamist Hizb al-'Adl wa al-Tanmiyya (Justice and Development Party), which the Kingdom integrated into the electoral process. Based on Joseph Schumpeter's intrinsic-value theory of electoral politics, this article will analyze this unique electoral process and the potential that it holds for Morocco's democratization. Evidence from public opinion research is used to argue that the electorate's de-politicization has engendered a shaky alliance in favor of electoral politics. The consequence of this is a contradiction that may be typical of elections in authoritarian states. On one hand, the indirect values of elections are a push towards greater debate about the meaning of democracy. On the other, the electoral process also results in the reproduction of patron-client relations, which undermine any indirect, abstract values that are produced in the very same process. This, in turn, can be considered an inherent weakness of the process for political parties that aim at establishing a democratic force for change.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1, 2009
The Middle East Institute has published The Middle East Journal quarterly since 1947. The Journal provides original and objective research and analysis, as well as source material, on the area from Morocco to Pakistan and including Central Asia. The Journal provides the background necessary for an understanding and appreciation of the region's political and economic development, cultural heritage, ethnic and religious diversity.
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