From the Editors
Contesting Narratives, Locating Power (Lund Conference)
The following are some rather hastily written reflections on the events in Morocco last year and the resulting new constitution which was followed by a parliamentary election. For the sake of intellectual honesty, I must note that the text lacks references to some of the most important authors who have influenced me, such as Mohamed Tozy, Abdallah Laroui, and Malika Zeghal.
The uprisings in the Middle East and the demise of Ben Ali and Mubarak had repercussions in Morocco too, with the emergence of a loose network of protesters under the label 20th February Movement, after the date of the first Sunday demonstration. The protesters raised demands for individual liberties and social justice. They demanded economic development and fair distribution of wealth, the end of the king’s grip on the economy through royal holding companies and, not least, they demanded a new constitution in which the king would continue to govern but not rule. The king has himself described the Moroccan system, which places ultimate powers in him, as an “executive monarchy”.
The powers of the parliament of the government are therefore seriously curtailed which has resulted in a general mistrust towards elected politicians whose main goal appears to be to collect as much personal favors as possible. One consequence of this is the phenomenon called transhumance which refers to politicians switching parties during the parliamentary period. The role of the king is one of those redline that must not be questioned, the others being Morocco’s territorial integrity (i.e. Western Sahara’s status as an integral part of Morocco) and the rule of the military.
One issue raised during the spring 2011 was article 19 in the constitution from 1996. According to this article the king is the Commander of the Faithful (amir al-mu`minin), which renders him a caliphal status, albeit restricted within the borders of Morocco. The king is considered as a sharif, an off spring to the Prophet Muhammad and he is in principle the supreme religious authority in Morocco. This position has a sacral dimension which was demonstrated very clearly 2009 when the French newspaper Le Monde in cooperation with the two Moroccan sister magazines TelQuel and Nichane published a survey on Moroccans’ attitude towards the king. 91 percent answered that they thought he had done a good or very good job during his ten years reign. Such a poll should make any chief of state jubilate but the Moroccan state responded by seizing the papers. The interior minister Khalid Naciri explained that “The Monarchy in Morocco is not in an equation and cannot be object of debate even in a poll.”
Questioning the king’s grip on Moroccan economy and demands for transparency on the sources of the royal wealth are also sensitive. The king and his environment (what is called the Makhzen, a word originally meaning treasury, or rather a storehouse of bread, but in Morocco refers to the sphere of power which is controlled by the king) control large parts business life through the royal holding company Siger which in its turn control the country’s two biggest holding companies, Omnium Nord Africain (ONA) and SNI (Société Nationale d’Investissement) which fusioned in 2010. The same year some of the country’s most critical papers ceased publishing after a boycott of advertisements by companies controlled by this holding company. Forbes estimated in 2009 the king’s wealth to 2.5 billion dollars which made him the world’s seventh richest royalty.
While protesters demanded a change of the political and economic systems and denounced the roles played by some of the king’s closest men, such as Fouad Ali el-Himma, they did not call for the king’s resignation. The magazine TelQuel, which supported the protests, called on its front page for a “revolution with the king,” describing the demands as a logical continuation of the process of change began by the king himself when he ascended the throne in 1999.
The constitutional referendum
The king kept a low profile until March 9 when he in a televised speech declared that he had appointed a committee charged with drafting a new constitution which would be presented to the people in a referendum July 1. While some considered this as a sufficient concession, the demonstrations continued with demand for a constitutional committee elected by the people instead of one appointed by the king. This latter procedure, they claimed, indicated that the source of power would continue to be the king rather than the people. This revived old debates from the birth of the modern Moroccan state in the wake of the first constitution adopted in 1962.
In his speech on March 9 announcing the referendum the king described himself both as king and citizen and concluded by declaring that he would himself make use of his civil rights by voting yes to the new constitution. On July 1 the king kept his promise and voted in front of the cameras together with his brother Mawlay Rashid, his wife Lalla Salma and his three sisters Lalla Maryam, Lalla Asma, and Lalla Hasna, all dressed in neo-traditional dress symbolizing the official narrative of Morocco as a state combining historical continuity with modernity and progress. This too recalled the referendum on the first constitution 1962, when Hassan II publicly voted together with other members of the royal family.
It was clearly a sign of the worries of the regime and can be seen as both a concession and political calculation. It can be seen as a concession to the demands raised by the demonstrators to abolish the king’s status as the Commander of the Faithful, a title going back to the caliphs in early Islamic history and which renders the king a sacral dimension (comparable to the divine right of European kings). As the early caliphs, the sultans of Morocco have through history based their legitimacy on the oath of allegiance, the bay´a, sworn to them by the most prominent groups of Moroccan society. This tradition has continued into modern times, but today its function is coupled with that of referendums. Morocco has seen eight referendums since independence, when the grandfather of the present king, sultan Muhammad, was upgraded from sultan to king with the name Muhammad V. All previous referendums took place during the reign of the king’s father Hassan II and six of them were on new or revised constitutions. If the official numbers for the referendum on the first constitution in 1962 were relatively humble with 80 percent voting yes, the constitutions 1970 and 1972 were adopted with 98.7 and 98.75 percent and the revised constitutions 1995 and 1996 with 99.6 and 96.56 percent respectively. The participation has been over 90 percent apart from the first one (85 percent) and the last one preceding the one in 2011 (82.9 percent).
The king thus took a clear stance for the new constitution, drafted by a committee appointed by himself. But was it the Commander of the Faithful who lent his support or was it the citizen who had promised to vote? If it was the Commander of the Faithful, voting no, or at least publicly calling for a rejection of the new constitution or for boycotting the referendum could equal lese-majesty. Soon after his speech in March 9, there were reports on suspiciously spontaneous demonstrations in support of the king and which occasionally attacked members of the 20 February Movement. The dialectical Egyptian word baltagiyya was soon incorporated into Moroccan vocabulary (at least it is new in Moroccan usage to my knowledge). It is unclear whether the king, at this stage, had decided to put his religious legitimacy at state or if he prepared for the possibility of accepting a possible defeat in his capacity as a citizen. However, one effective measure ensured that there would be no serious debate on the new constitution: The draft was presented only two weeks before the referendum. And when he voted, he did that in the neo-traditional dress he wears when he acts as the Commander of the faithful.
Furthermore, all public institutions were used to convince Moroccans to participate and to vote yes to the constitution. The ministry of Hubus and Religious Affairs distributed a prewritten sermon which all imams had to read during the sermon the last Friday before the referendum. This document, which was published by the site Mamfakinch, closed to the 20 February Movement, was stamped “Unified sermon” (khutba muwahhada) in the upper right corner. The text enumerates nine advantages of the new constitution, from the fact that Islam is declared religion of the state, to the fact that the constant principles of umma (thawabit al-umma) are linked with the kingdom’s attachment to values such as openness (infitah) and moderation (wasatiyya wa-l-i´tidaliyya), social and gender equality (the concrete meaning of which is of course contested), that the family is defined as a foundational pillar of society, and the fight against corruption. All this with frequent references to the Koran and the Sunna. It may be worth quoting the passage on the king’s function as the Commander of the faithful:
The third advantage is that the proposal specifies the Command of the Faithful (imara al-mu`minin) in its capacity as the protector of the Umma and religion and that it considers this binding. Supreme leadership (al-imama al-uzma) is necessary, which in our Moroccan country is based on the oath of allegiance (bay´a), which is prescribed by God just as He has prescribed obedience to those in command (wulat al-umur) in Islam according to the verse (4:59): “O you who believe! Obey God and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to God and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end.”
The conclusion of the sermon is that it is a national and religious duty to vote yes in the referendum:
This – o you who believe – was a short reference to some articles in the new constitution and the advantages contained within it, among the general advantages contained in all its paragraphs, which gives a clear picture of its importance for a reform of the institutions and which makes the citizen feel that he is really facing a new constitution. It exhorts him to participate in its realization and accept it by saying yes, and give it a testimony which is a legally binding demand and a national duty demanded by the love and attachment to the nation, and to engage in its efforts, thereby realizing God’s words (24:51-2): “The response of the believers, when they are invited to God and His Messenger that he may judge between them, is only to say: We hear and we obey; and these it is that are the successful. And he who obeys God and His Messenger, and fears God, and is careful of (his duty to) Him, these it is that are the achievers.”
The purpose of the referendum thus did not seem to be to after a period of free debate measure the degree of support for the new constitution but rather to mobilize a united people around the chief of state and the Commander of the Faithful who, with his superior judgment, already had taken a final decision. To question this decision thus would be tantamount to both treason and blasphemy.
The Sufi order al-Qadiriyya al-Budshishiyya organized a big demonstration in Casablanca in support for the new constitution. This tariqa, one member of which is the minister of Hubus and Religious affairs Ahmad Tawfiq, has been embraced by Moroccan authorities as a true representative of authentic Moroccan tolerant and moderate Islam. The constitution was also supported by a darker faces of Moroccan Islam, the Salafi shaykh Muhammad bin ´Abd al-Rahman al-Maghrawi, who in 2008 was denounced by a fatwa issued by the fatwa section of the Supreme ´Ulama Council after he had issued a fatwa widely understood as justifying very early marriages (which, according to the council, not only violated the law of personal status from 2004 but also the council’s monopoly of issuing fatwas). He published a communiqué at his website in support for the constitution:
We understand the content of the constitutional text, which the king referred to, as a clear strengthening of the place of the Islamic religion in the Moroccan identity in all its components and that Islam’s authority will be guiding in all constitutional and legal issues. This is expressed in the preamble which reads: “The Moroccan kingdom is an Islamic state.”
“The Moroccan identity is characterized by the prime place occupied by the Islamic religion.”
“To include all international agreements, within the framework of the rules of the constitution, the laws of the kingdom, and the eternal national identity.”
The last quote was an abridgement of the original sentence in the constitutional text: “To give all international agreements, to which Morocco has agreed, within the framework of the rules of the constitution, the laws of the kingdom, and the eternal national identity, superior authority immediately after their publication in the national legislation, and to work for the concordance of this legislation with the requirements of these agreements.” In spite of al-Magrawi’s enthusiastic reading of this passage as a protection of his conservative understanding of Moroccan values against foreign influence, Morocco actually withdrew its reservations from the CEDAW in 2011.
In 1 July 98.5 of the voters voted yes to the new constitution, according to official figures. The numbers of participation were more humble: 73,46 percent, i.e. 9 881 922 of 13 451 404 registered voters. Al-´Adl wa-l-ihsan claimed that only 37 percent had voted based on the fact that Morocco has 24 956 953 inhabitants over 18 years, which would mean that 54 percent of those entitled to vote had registered. Morocco was praised by international leaders. Hillary Clinton congratulated the Moroccan people and its leader for their efforts in strengthening the Rechtstaat, human rights, and good governance. EU:s highest representative for foreign affairs Catherine Ashton congratulated Morocco for its democratic climate. Other congratulations came from Nicholas Sarkozy, the Spanish king Juan Carlos and last, but not least, from the king of Bahrain Hamad Ben Issa Al-Khalifa.
The new contitution
The Moroccan state system is a constitutional, parliamentary, and social democracy. The kingdom’s constitutional system is based on separation of powers, and balance and cooperation between powers, civil and participatory democracy and good governance and a link between responsibility and accountability.
The Umma is in its shared life supported by collective permanent principles, which are represented by the tolerant Islamic religion, national unity with a plurality of contributions, constitutional monarchy as well as the democratic choice.
The first passage contains several catch words from neo-liberal developmentalist discourse as it is represented by the United States, the EU, the UN, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund: first of all “good governance (al-hukama al-jayyida) and other recurrent terms in this context, such as democracy, participation, and accountability. The formulation “the democratic choice” in the second passage is repeated a number of times in the text and is presented as inviolable a principle as that of Islam, the status of the king, and Morocco’s territorial integrity. It may be worth noting that Morocco is not described as an accomplished democracy but as in transition towards democracy, a transition that has lasted officially in twenty years since Hassan II in 1992 announced a reform of the constitution from 1972 with the promise of transforming Morocco to a modern democratic Rechtsstaat. This was in the wake of the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin wall which made the Moroccan regime vulnerable to criticism for human rights abuses. Democracy is thus not presented as a reality but rather as a goal, or what the German historian Reinhart Koselleck has called Leitbegriff, a kinetic concept pointing forward as part of a future project to be realized. Indeed, the very first sentence of the constitution reads: “The Moroccan kingdom, fulfilling its irrevocable choice to build a democratic state in which right and law prevails, persists in establishing institutions of a modern state, the foundations of which are participation, pluralism, and good governance.”
Implicit in the second passage quoted above, which otherwise is about the religious dimension of Morocco, are also concepts such as decentralization and subsidiarity, which are explicated further down in the text. Morocco is now not only defined as a Muslim country with Islam as state religion (declared in article 3), it is also a multicultural and multilingual country. Therefore Amazighe is now defined as an official language besides Arabic with the status of a shared national heritage. However, the formulation in article 5 still appears to give Arabic a primary position:
Arabic is still the official language of the state [tazullu al-´arabiyya al-lugha al-rasmiyya li-l-dawla].
The state works for its protection, development, education, and use.
Amazigh is also considered an official language of the state [ta´addu al-amazighiyya aydan lughatan rasmiyyatan li-l-dawla] in its capacity as a shared heritage of all Moroccans without exception.
The semantic differences are not without importance. Arabic is the official language of the state while Amazigh is one official language (among others). Hassani, the Arabic dialect spoken in southern Morocco and, not least important, in the disputed Western Saharan territories, is also considered as an essential part of “the unified Moroccan identity”, albeit without the attribute “official”. This and other languages and cultures are already in the preamble mentioned as indispensable parts of Moroccan identity:
The Moroccan kingdom is an Islamic state, firmly attached to its national and territorial unity in a shape which integrates the components of its national in a union through a fusion of its Arab-Islamic, Amazigh, Sahrawi, and Hassani elements with contributions from African, Andalusian, Jewish, and Mediterranean elements. The Moroccan identity is characterized by that the Islamic religion takes the prime position in it and this in the light of the Moroccan people’s firm attachment to values such as openness, justice, tolerance, dialogue as well as mutual understanding between all human cultures and civilizations.
The formulation “Islamic state” should of course not be understood in the sense that states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran are Islamic states and could perhaps best be rendered into English with “Muslim state”. However, I have chosen “Islamic” because Islam, and more specifically the Moroccan Maliki tradition, is a central component justifying the state. The passage puts equal stress on national unity, understood as a unified popular will, as on plurality. What, then, is holding all these languages and cultures together and furthermore transforms them into one unified will? The answer is of course the king. He has often in his speeches described himself as a mediator between the different groups of Morocco with the implicit meaning that he is the only one capable of preserving the country from chaos.
As mentioned above, one of the central demands from the protesters were the abolishment of the king’s status as the Commander of the Faithful, which the constitution from 1996 (Arabic and French) defined as follows in article 19:
The king, the Commander of the Faithful, is the highest representative of the Umma, symbol of its unity, the guarantor for the eternal and continuous preservation of the state. He is the defender who defends religion and watches over the respect of the constitution. He is the protector of citizens’, social groups’ and collectives rights and liberties.
In the new constitution the functions of the king are divided into two articles:
The king, in his capacity as the Commander of the Faithful, and protector of religion [hami hama al-milla wa-l-din]. He guarantees the freedom to practice religious matters. The king, the Commander of the Faithful, presides over the Supreme ´Ulama Council which is entrusted to study questions presented to it.
The Council is considered as the only instance authorized to issue fatwas in questions presented to it, based on principles and rules in Islam and its tolerant goals [maqasiduha al-samha, i.e. the underlying motives of God for every single rule, a theory which makes extensive reinterpretation possible].
The council’s sphere of authority, composition, and procedures are defined by way of zahir [royal decree].
The king exercises his religious authority, which is linked to the Command of the Faithful and vested only in him, according to what is stipulated in this article, by way of zahirs.
The king, the chief of state and its highest representative, the symbol of Umma’s unity, the guarantor for the eternal and continuous preservation of the state, the supreme mediator between its institutions, watches over the respect of the constitution, the proper function of the constitutional institutions, the conservation of the choice of democracy, of human rights and liberties of citizens and collectives as well as of the respect of the international conventions concluded by the kingdom.
The king is the guarantor of the kingdom’s independence and its territorial integrity within its authentic borders.
The king fulfills these tasks by [issuing] zahirs through the powers which are explicitly conferred to him in the text of the constitution.
These zahirs are countersigned by the chief of government except for what are noted in articles 41, 44 (second passage), 47 (first and seventh passage), 51, 57, 59 (first passage) and 174 (second passage).
These two articles are interesting because they divide the royal person into two dimensions. Article 41 defines the sacral dimension which the king has in his capacity as the Commander of the Faithful, while article 42 defines the political dimension, which he has in his capacity as a head of state. As is evident from the last sentence in article 42, the zahirs issued by the king in the first capacity belong to those who do not have to be countersigned by the chief of the government. It is this sacral dimension which makes the king inviolable and a civic duty to show him veneration and respect (article 46). The former constitution contained a similar article, which has been used restrict journalists freedom to expose uncomfortable truths about the king and his environment. In article 64 of the new constitution is declared that no parliamentary can be prosecuted for having expressed his opinion “unless the expressed opinion questions the monarchical form of government.” Furthermore, article 52 explains that the king’s speeches to the parliament “cannot be object of debate within it.” Article 175, in Chapter 13 on constitutional revisions, explains that “It is not possible to discuss revisions of rules pertaining to the Islamic religion, the monarchical form of government, its choice of democracy or those achievements in liberties and political rights which are stipulated in this constitution.” In principle, the position of the king as the Commander of the Faithful equals that of a caliph, albeit this claim is restricted within the Moroccan border (but extending to the Moroccan expatriate community). One essential part of this position is his status a sharif, i.e. a direct descendent to the Prophet Muhammad. Sharifianism is often mentioned in the literature on Morocco as a charismatic dimension of political legitimacy. This concept has a long and variegated genealogy, and it is possible to argue that in the modern literature on the Moroccan monarchy produced its supporters there are traces not only of the caliphal status (and the first sultan of the current ´Alawi dynasty was proclaimed a caliph after he had taken Fes in 1666) but also an element of mahdism (the second sultan of the Sa´di dynasty, which preceded the ´Alawites, took the title of al-Mahdi and was proclaimed caliph in Fes in 1550). al-Mahdi is an eschatological figure who will return shortly before the Day of Judgment to lead the good forces, with Jesus, against the forces of evil. Both the Almohad dynasty in the tenth century and other movements in southern Morocco, such as the Sa´dian dynasty in the sixteenth century, started as Mahdi movements. This sharifian dimension of Moroccan kingship plays a central role in officially approved academic writings legitimizing the regime, writing that appears to draw at least as much on French colonial literature during the Protectorate as on the pre-modern Moroccan tradition.
It would be possible to think that the relatively clear division of the king’s sacral and political dimensions in the new constitution could make possible a restriction of his authority as chief of state. However, as will be clear in what follows, the sacral dimension contaminates the political one, and even if the constitutional text enumerates several of issues on which the king shall consult the chief of government and other officials, can none of his decisions in principle be questioned. It is tempting to refer to the British historian Ernst Kantorowicz, who in The King’s Two Bodies argued that the medieval doctrine of the king’s two bodies, one physical and one mystical, paved the way for the modern differentiated state via an absolutist phase when the king’s will was abstracted into state reason:
Thus, when Roman law maintains that the Prince’s voluntas has the power of law, the reference appears to be made not to his arbitrary private volitions, but to the voluntas active in him as a personae publica. As a public person, however, the Prince serves public utility; and therewith the bearer of the imago aequitatis becomes at the same time the “servant of equity” – aequitatis servus est princeps.
This mediaeval doctrine was to a large extent based upon a scholastic interpretation of the Andalusian Muslim scholar and philosopher Ibn Rushd’s commentaries to Aristotle. Kantorowicz did of course not mean that this Aristotelian and Averroïst theory created the modern national state but, rather, that it offered a theoretical justification of a practice which had already begun to develop. French philosopher Claude Lefort developed Kantarowicz’ ideas by claiming that the expression “body politics” is not simply a metaphor, but the very manner that a modern nation state becomes a unified Nation. He therefore explained the” singular procedure of universal suffrage” as a way of reconciling the fact of divisions in real society, in contradistinction to the ideal unity: “[T]he ultimate reference to the identity of the People, to the instituting Subject, proves to mask the enigmatic arbitration of Number.” This may be a way of explaining the importance given to evocations of unanimous popular support in referendums in the modern Moroccan state and the danger of polls measuring the degree of popular support for the king. For, as Lefort also claims, love is the neighbour of hate, and the people’s love for the king’s human, fallible body was transformed into hate when he was put on trial (Lefort is of course writing on the fate of Louis XIV). Serge Gubert has described the body of the Moroccan sharifian sovereign as an interface between the profane and the religious which in the modern state mirrors the twin couple the umma and the nation. It remains to be seen if this division of the spiritual and political dimensions of the king can be taken up by the February 20th Movement and other groups as a precedent for demands for a sharper separation between the religious and political functions of the king in order to gradually enforce further restrictions of the former.
If we turn to the political dimension of the king, his speech announcing the constitution implied that it was in this capacity that he supported it. The position of the popularly elected government is, to some degree, strengthened in relation to the king. This is semantically signaled with the substitution in the new constitution of the designation of the chief of government as ra`is al-hukuma (chief of government) for al-wazir al-awwal (first minister) in the former text (the symbolism of which becomes clear if we are reminded that the head of the first Moroccan governments, before the king had consolidated his power, were designated ra`is al-hukuma). As previously mentioned, the chief of government shall countersign all the royal zahirs for these to have legal force, except for the exceptions mentioned in article 41. It is still the king who appoints the chief of government but article 47 explicitly states that he shall choose someone from the party which gained most votes in the last election. Before he could ignore that, as he did in 2002 when he appointed the independent technocrat Driss Jettou. It may be worth noting that the text does not give any criteria for which members of the biggest party he may appoint, e.g. the leader of the party, anyone in the leadership or who has been elected into parliament. In principle the king is free to appoint anyone with membership in the party.
As was the former text, the new one is silent on the established practice that the king appoints the “Ministers of sovereign power,” mentioned above, but the text states that the king, on the proposal from the chief of government, appoints the other ministers, which in practice gives him a veto. Furthermore, the king has the power to dismiss ministers after consultation with the chief of government who also may ask the king to do so. Hence all ministers are appointed by the king. Governmental work is divided between the government council and the council of ministers. The difference is that the former is presided over by the chief of government (article 92) and the latter by the king (article 48). It is the latter council which makes central decisions on strategic guidelines for state policy, constitutional revisions, organic laws (laws outside the constitution with a constitutional character), general guidelines for the budget, amnesties, laws affecting the military, declaration of war, dissolution of the parliament and appointments of central officials such as governors, the head of the national treasure, etc. (article 49). It may be worth noting that it is the council of ministers which appoints governors (of Morocco’s sixteen regions) and walis (heads of the prefectures within the regions) and it is their responsibility to supervise the local autonomous governance in the territorial collectives (article 145) which is a central element in the boosted decentralization policy.
The king presides over the council of ministers (article 48), the supreme ´ulama council (article 41), the supreme security council (article 53), and the supreme council of judicial power (article 56). He appoints the president of the constitutional court and approves of the other members of this council by way of zahir(article 56). Furthermore, he is the supreme commander of the armed forces and appoints higher officers (article 53). Among the exceptions from the principle that the king’s zahirs must be countersigned by the chief of government, mentioned in article 42, are those pertaining to the dissolution of the government (article 51), appointments of judges in the supreme council of judicial power (article 57), declaration of state of exception (article 59) and constitutional revision (article 174). The constitutional text is in many cases characterized by a creative ambivalence. In the case of a declaration of a state of exception, the king shall consult the chief of government, the speakers of the two chambers of the parliament as well as with the president of the constitutional council. However, there is no explicit provision that he must have their approval. Most of this is present in the constitution of 1996, but expressed in much more detail in the new one.
The independence of the courts is strongly emphasized as well as the criminality of influencing judges. However, in article 107 is explained that it is the king who guarantees the independence of the courts and, as we have seen, it is the king who preside the sessions of the supreme council of judicial power, which has the task of supervising the function of the courts. This raises the question how pressure from the palace is to be sanctioned.
The new constitution satisfies far from everybody who demands a constitutional monarchy in the sense that the source of power is the people and an elected government has executive power. Ultimate power is still located with the king and Morocco still appears as what the king himself has called an “executive monarchy” rather than a constitutional one.
Established parties such as the Istiqlal and the social democratic USFP, at this time still the dominating parties in the coalition government, and the Islamist PJD, then still an aspirant to form a future government, exhorted their members to vote yes to the constitution. However, all these parties were exposed to serious internal tension as several grass roots members sided with the protester, as did, at least temporarily, some high ranking members such as the PJP:s leader of its parliamentary group Mustafa Ramid (who eventually was appointed minister of justice in the new government). The leaderships of these parties were careful to preserve their positions as potential loyal partners to the palace. Before the constitution was published, the general secretary of the PJD threatened to reject it if it, “influenced by secularist and communist traitors” who, according to him, had infiltrated the February 20th Movement, would deviate from Islam for example by promoting homosexuality.
Other, smaller parties on the left declared from the beginning that they would not accept a constitution which preserved the status of the king as the Commander of the Faithful, or withdrew from discussions in protest against the undemocratic procedures. February 20th Movement continued to demonstrate and called for a boycott of the referendum. The largest Islamic movement al-´Adl wa-l-ihsan, which is not a political party, sided with the protest movement and condemned the new constitution’s preservation of the king’s absolute authority. In December the movement declared that it would take a time out from the 20 February Movement.
The Parliamentary elections
As another step in the process to stem the protests, the parliamentary election were held earlier than planned, in 25 November 2011. The Ministry of Interior described the electoral participation of 45 percent as a success and a proof that “the nihilistic forces” lacked popular support. The forces referred to had advocated a boycott of the elections in spite of police brutality and attacks from plain clothed baltagiyyas. But the number was based on registered voters and only 28,6 percent of those entitled to vote had registered. The Islamist Freedom and Development Party (known under the French acronym PJD) became the largest party with 25 percent of the votes and its leader Abdelillah Benkirane was in 29 November, in accordance with the new constitution, appointed prime minister by the king with the task of forming a coalition government. The party has since the early 1990s steadily worked for being recognized as a legitimate and credible force in the Moroccan political system and it has appeared as the major party with the strongest internal democracy. The party’s ascendance to power, or at least the limited power bestowed at the government by the constitution, therefore raised both fears of islamization and hopes of a new beginning.
One of the first decisions of the new government was to publish a list of individuals who for different reasons enjoyed free bus travels in Morocco and Benkirane promised to continue publish names of individuals and companies enjoying other privileges in order to combat the rentier economy. However, immediately after the elections, Benkirane declared that he would never take any central decisions without the king’s consent. When he sent his list of suggested ministers the palace was slow to respond. In the meantime the king replaced 28 ambassadors and appointed new royal advisers. When the new government was finally presented January 3, men closed to the king held the ministries of finance, religion, health, and education. PJD members became heads of central ministries such as of foreign affairs, the interior, justice, and defense. However, these ministries were also given royal advisors. Suspicions on where the real power is located were confirmed when the American minister of foreign affairs Hillary Clinton at her visit to Morocco met the minister of foreign affairs in the previous government newly appointed royal advisor Taïb Fassi Fihri before meeting the new minister of foreign affairs Saad Dine El Othmani (PJD). It is tempting to draw a parallel to the beginning of the hailed democratic transition when the former opposition parties, most notably Istiqlal and the social democratic USFP, were allowed to form a government in 1996. This happened after lengthy and harsh negotiations with the palace in order to ensure that the transition to democracy would be a real one. However, during the one and half decade that these parties governed in different governmental formations, they were gradually co-opted and lost but all credibility. The king took the credit for greatest reform of this period, the new law of personal status in 2004, which was presented as a gift from the king to the Moroccan women, while the elected politicians took the blame for the country’s economic stagnation.
If I shall conclude by taking the risk of making a prognosis, I will say is likely that the PJD will meet the same fate and that it is unlikely that Morocco will see revolutionary changes in the short future. However, that is not necessarily a pessimistic prediction because it does not mean that nothing has changed and that there will be no future developments. History has not ended and protests continue in different parts of Morocco. The new constitution is written as a document relatively open for different kinds of implementation in the future. The ambivalences of the text leave room both for the palace to keep hold of the power and for the parliament to gradually contest it, for example by emphasizing the division between the king’s political and religious dimensions, between his two bodies.
 Tozy, Monarchie et islam politique. Presses deScience Po, Paris, 1999.
 Laroui has of course produced a number of important monographs. In this context I only mention Les origines sociales et culturelles du nationalime marocain (1830-1912), Centre Culturel Arabe, Casablanca 2001 (1977), Esquisses historiques, Centre Culturel Arabe, Casablanca, 2001. And Le Maroc et Hassan II. Un temoignage, Centre Culturel Arabe, Casablanca, 2005.
 Zeghal, Les islamistes marocains. Le défi à la monarchie,La Découverte, Paris, 2005.
 Paul Chambergeat - Le référendum constitutionnel du 7 décembre 1962 au Maroc - in Maurice Flory; Jean-Louis Miège (sous la responsabilité de) - Annuaire de l'Afrique du Nord - Centre national de la recherche scientifique - Paris , Editions du CNRS , 1964 , pp. 167-205 , Vol. 1: 189.
 http://www.almajlis-alilmi.org.ma/ar/details.aspx?id=628&z=12&s=1 (Printed 2008-09-23, not online anymore)
 The law of personal status defines the minimum age for marriage as 18 years for both sexes, albeit with the possibility of demanding an exception in court. The recent case with the teenager Amina Filalli, who committed suicide after having been forced to marry her rapist, was a result of this loophole in combination with the penal law derived from the French Code Napoléon and which in article 475 makes a man who has evicted a girl not indictable if he marries her.
 Koselleck, Begriffsgeschichten. Suhrkamp. Frankfurt a.M. 2006(2010):328f.
 See for example the articles in L’édification d’un état modern. Le Maroc de Hasan II, Georges Vedel (ed.), Albin Michel, Paris, 1986.
 Kantorowicz, E. 1957. The King’s Two Bodies. A Study in Medieval Political Theology. Princeton University Press. New Jersey: 95f.
 Bernard Flynn, 2005, The Philosophy of Claude Lefort. Interpreting the Political. Northwestern University Press. Evanston, Illinois.
 Lefort, “The Permanence of the Theological-Political?” in Lefort., Democracy and Political Theory. 1988. (Essais sur le politique, 1986): 227.
 Gubert, 2002, « ‘Du ventre de la royauté aux jardins de la papauté’: Entre Islam et Chrétienté, le lexique et la métaphore du corps” in Arabica Vol. 49, no 3 : 288.
 Laroui 2005: 231.
 http://www.almassae.press.ma/node/41976 (printed 2012-03-10, unfortunately not on the web anymore)
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