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Governmental Crisis in Morocco.

This term might be inadequate if one were to describe the reality of the polarizations that are being experienced by the first cabinet led by an Islamic party. However, this still means that Abdelilah Benkirane's grip over power has started to loosen up. The latter used to believe that the opposition might give him some trouble. The surprise came however from within the governmental alliance whereby the leaders of the Independence Party insinuated that they will no longer be supporting his management mistakes.

The main question is not about the reasons and backdrops of this emerging issue. The disagreements were expected to come from a party such as the Progress and Socialism, which is quite different from the Justice and Development party. However, the disagreements came from the Independence Party, which has an Islamic reference and a unique experience in opposition and power. This indicates that the differences are larger than just disagreements over the management style. The cabinet meetings and the meetings of the majority coordination committees could have contained any differences in the points of view, provided that these differences do not affect the essence of the commitments that led to the cabinet formation following difficult consultations.

Even if the public emergence of the differences reflects a sort of transparency, it will however have a hefty cost both for the prime minister - who must swiftly settle any emerging differences - and for his partner, the Independence Party, which can no longer proceed with its governmental commitments as if nothing had happened. Indeed, the present crisis will turn into a political one and one that will threaten the governmental agreement in the event that the Independence Party was to opt for fleeing forward. This also concerns the cabinet, which is heading to its second year under a flow of criticism. The cabinet's internal cracks will paralyze its movement and push it to reconsider not only its management style but also the structure of the possible alliances should the situation spiral out of control.

There is a possible way out since the prime minister - who was quite keen on meeting the commitments of his predecessor's cabinet, Abbas al-Fassi - has shown some flexibility. He thus called for a new round of social dialogue to be attended by the three parties (the government, the unions, and the businessmen). If these meetings were to conclude with the need for revisiting the cabinet's stand, then this will block the way for the Independence team and it will achieve a social gain by thawing the ice of the many political differences.

The cabinet did modify its tone somehow. It seems readier to please the social partners especially the businessmen who had strongly opposed the budget. If the cabinet was to take this same position vis-a-vis the unions that organized some street protests, then it will be containing some of the anger as it will be pleasing the unions and enhancing the position of its partner, the Independence Party. This is only true assuming that the polarizations that came to the surface do not hide some other form of anger that is a stranger to the aspirations of the governmental alliance. When the Independence party leader, Hamid Shobat, said that the Moroccan Justice and Development party is trying to copy the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, this was probably beyond a simple criticism against the cabinet.

If one were to say that the Moroccan Islamists did indeed benefit from the rise of the Islamists in the countries of the Arab Spring, then one could also say that the opposition and pro-government political parties did not commit to a consensual ceiling. The Justice and Development Party is now acting as a political party rather than an Islamic organization. This raises a question concerning the outcome of the present experience and the preemptive attempts at containing any escalation. No one had ever imagined that the opposition could rule the country. However, the power rotation experience came and allowed the main Moroccan oppositionist to move from the years of imprisonment and exile to the post of prime minister. The same applies for the Islamists' access to power especially in light of the Street pressure and the desire to achieve a smooth change, one that preserves stability and pushes away the corruption and tyranny. Thus, none of the different parties has any interest in damaging this experience.

There is a very thin line between the Independence Party's possible aspirations for this smooth change and its potential tendency for a different kind of arenas. Nevertheless, these interactions do carry some encouraging elements since the monitoring of the cabinet is no longer monopolized by the opposition but now extends to some of the governmental partners.

However, the Justice and Development parliamentary bloc chose to partake in this crisis by calling for passing laws to allow international observers to monitor the upcoming elections. This means that the bets on the transparency of the upcoming municipal elections will constitute a separation line between the different players within the cabinet and the opposition.







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Publication:Dar Al Hayat, International ed. (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Jan 8, 2013
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