The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Ibn Kafka on why he'll boycott Morocco's parliamentary elections

As many readers know I am Moroccan-born and frequently spend time in my birthtown of Rabat. I am not politically involved in Morocco but have many sympathies for the February 20 movement and, over the past decade, have grown from being optimistic about King Muhammad VI and his regime to being disappointed, then cynical, and now disgusted. 

My friend Ibn Kafka, whose excellent blog is a must-read on Morocco, wrote an eloquent explanation for the boycott that I agree with entirely.

I'm translating the first part of his post below.

Thanks, but no thanks

I boycotted the masquerade of the constitutional referendum this summer, and I will be boycotting the election of the Chamber of Deputies on 25 November. Yet I am no fan of boycotts: every time I’ve had the chance to in Morocco, I always voted. During previous referendums, I voted no (I can’t remember having ever voted yes). I voted in the 2007 elections. I start from the principle that I am asked for my opinion only once every five years, and that have a duty to give it.

But this year, I’m not buying it. It’s not about the principle of elections: I do not believe in direct democracy, and am no fan of revolutionary violence. I believe in traditional parliamentary democracy, with balance of powers and rule of law. What I don’t believe in at all anymore is the ability of this regime to democratize without being forced by popular pressure. It must have been naiveté, but I have been convinced by the evidence that democratization in Morocco will not be granted; it will be taken.

It’s the context that opened my eyes: what do Tunisians and Egyptians have that we don’t? Why should we be satisfied with crumbs when we, the Moroccan people, could claim our sovereignty, and make the regime understand that if it can only remain if the majority of the Moroccan people allow it too? Morocco’s situation is different, to be sure: the king’s legitimacy is real even if it doesn’t rest on democratic foundations. But the average Morocco is faced daily with corruption, empoverishment, the neglect of public services, contempt, human rights abuses and the absence of rule of law, as in Tunisia and Egypt. The head of state has a different title and the institutions and traditions are different, but who can deny the similarities?