Why Moroccans Have Lost Trust in Their Politicians 

Samir Bennis

New York - On October 7, Morocco held its second parliamentary elections since the adoption of a new constitution in 2011. The elections confirmed the status of the Party of Justice and Development (PJD) as Morocco's leading political party.

The outcome of the elections and the way in which the polls were conducted confirms Morocco's status as the only country in the MENA region capable of organizing major elections under normal conditions and in accordance with the rule of democracy and transparency.

However, as many observers feared, voter turnout was lower than during the 2011 elections, with only 43 percent of the eligible population turning out to vote.

The new constitution grants greater powers to Morocco's head of government as well as to parliament, and enables the elected branches of government to have more say in the most vital issues affecting the daily lives of Moroccan citizens.

Gradual democratization

Although the new constitution ushered in a new era of gradual democratization in Morocco, this process is weakened by the lack of participation by the majority of Moroccans in the political process.

While the new reforms paved the way for the democratisation of the country, this process is hampered by the very stakeholders who should uphold the process and fight to advance democracy.

The succession of governments and the worsening of living conditions for many segments of society, especially in inner cities, in addition to the deterioration of public services such as education and health, have led many Moroccans to believe that no matter who they vote for, their situations will not improve.

For the majority of Moroccans, the main obstacle that prevents their country from advancing is the incompetent political elite. Morocco’s political parties are perceived by many Moroccans as having strayed from their main mission to lead the country toward progress

Reports published by the United Nations and other international entities show that Moroccan politicians have failed to deliver on the promises they have made during electoral campaigns.

Because of the failure of successive governments to address the most pressing issues that affect the daily lives of Moroccans, the country continues to lag behind in the human development index, ranking 126th worldwide, even behind countries that are considered some of the poorest in the world.

Fight against poverty

Whether it is the fight against poverty, the overhaul of the health and education systems, or the creation of job opportunities, the government has not lived up to the expectations of Moroccans.

While four million Moroccans live below the poverty line, the health system is plagued by insufficient funding, public hospitals are in deplorable conditions, and youth unemployment is still rampant, especially among university graduates.

Available data show that while overall youth unemployment stands at 20.6 percent, in urban areas it ranges as high as 39.9 percent.

Of even greater concern to many Moroccans is the worsening of the country’s education system with the incumbent government's strategy to expand the privatization of education.

Conducted over the past 15 years, this policy has pushed the United Nations to remind the Moroccan government that education is a public good and urged it to abide by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

One of the major factors that has prevented the country from moving forward and providing better prospects for its population is corruption. While the incumbent government made the fight against corruption its main goal in the 2011 legislative elections, it has arguably failed to deliver on its pledge.

The level of corruption in the country is worse than when it took office in 2011. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index published by Amnesty International last January, Morocco slid from 80th place in 2014 to 88th in 2015 in the global ranking, out of 162 countries. This ranking places Morocco in 10th place in the MENA region and 17th place in Africa, relegating it to the same level as it was in 2010 when it ranked 80th.

The lack of opportunities available to Moroccan youth to build a brighter future makes them lose faith in the ability of their politicians to advance the country to improve their living conditions.

It is widely believed that the chances of a young Moroccan to enter a political party and aspire to run for office are slim, unless he or she has family connections inside the party or comes from a wealthy family.


This situation is even more egregious in periods leading up to major elections. During such times, I have witnessed first-hand the heated debates and countless meetings that are held by the parties to decide on who will obtain the party’s endorsement to run for parliament. In these internal debates, what appears to matter most for many party leaders is not whether a candidate is fit to run for office, nor his/her qualifications, but rather his/her closeness to the party's hierarchy or ability to pump money into the party's coffers.

One recent and widely reported example of corruption within the political parties is the football pitch fiasco allegedly precipitated by former minister Mohamed Ouzzine.

Ouzzine, a member of the party of Popular Movement, was appointed as part of the first PJD-led coalition government in 2011 as minister of youth and sports. Three years later, he was reportedly dismissed by King Mohammed VI after the scandal that followed one of the matches of the FIFA Club World Cup in Rabat in December 2014.

Due to incompetent construction and supervision, the brand new Rabat football stadium could not withstand a few hours of heavy rain. Moroccans expressed their anger at the deplorable condition of the pitch and called for the dismissal of the minister. At the height of the scandal, Mohand Laenser, secretary general of the MP, acknowledged his party member’s responsibility in the scandal.

“The political responsibility is established and acknowledged, and we are waiting for the results of the investigation committee that was set up to take the necessary measures,” Laenser said in December 2014 at a forum organised by the state-owned news agency Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).

It is no wonder that most Moroccans do not trust the slogans touted by their politicians during the electoral campaigns. For Moroccans to enjoy the dividends of democracy, they need a renaissance of their political elite and the presence of politicians who have a democratic mindset, a sense of patriotism and a genuine willingness to discharge their duties for the common good.

As long as politicians are not held accountable for their wrongdoings, many Moroccans will shy away from participating in their country's political process, thereby impeding the development of democracy in Morocco.

A shorter version of this article was published on Al Jazeera English 

Samir Bennis is the co-founder of and editor-in-chief of Morocco World News. You can follow him on Twitter @SamirBennis




  • The Moroccan Gold Eldorado

    The Moroccan Gold Eldorado, a Myth or a Reality?

    Rabat - Recently, a conspiracy theory video about a large gold discovery in Morocco is making rounds online. The video claims that a substantial gold reserve was discovered and is being extracted by a Canadian mining company called Maya Gold and Silver. We Moroccans are very proud human beings, we love our country and cherish...

  • Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani

    Qatar: How the Tables Are Turning in The Gulf

    Rabat - Amidst harsh sanctions and a long list of demands from its neighbors, Qatar’s ability to thrive under pressure may prove to be problematic for Saudi Arabia. As Saudi Arabia and its coalition attempt to wait out Qatar, the recent spat in the Gulf continues to become more and more global, and severely against...

  • FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. If the nation doesn’t do more, the U.S. probably won’t quite meet the dramatic heat-trapping gas reduction goal it promised in last year’s Paris agreement to battle climate change, according to a new study. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

    Climate Change : If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Fix It

    Chefchaouen - Climate change is happening at home and around the world. Chefchaouen is doing its part by embracing clean energy climate solutions and engaging its citizens in climate action. When it comes to fighting climate change, cities and local leaders are best positioned to lead that charge. Local leaders from coastal to landlocked communities are...

  • 20

    India Orders Internal Probe into Mistaken Use of Morocco-Spain Border Picture

    Hyderabad - The Indian Ministry of Interior on Wednesday ordered an internal investigation to find out how a picture of Morocco-Spain border was used in its annual report to show floodlights along the India-Pakistan border. What is most embarrassing is that the annual report of previous years was tabled during the Budget Session of Indian...

  • Amid Growing Tension, Thousands of Moroccans Stage Pro-Rif March in Rabat

    Neglect in Harsh Soil: The Deep Roots of the Rif Crisis

    Rabat - The ongoing protests in northern Morocco started almost eight months ago, but they have their origin in nearly a century of violent repression by the state. The Rif has, in spite of itself, got involved into a peaceful revolt since the death of the fishmonger Mohcine Fikri at the end of October 2016, a...

  • Tamim Bin Hamad al Thani emir of Qatar

    The Qatar Crisis: What Does It Mean?

    Rabat - The recent diplomatic fallout between Qatar and the rest of the Middle East could have serious economic and geopolitical consequences across the globe. Earlier this week, Qatar’s diplomatic crisis took an extreme turn as several Arab states severed diplomatic ties with the Gulf nation.  The original list of countries in the coalition against...

  • Moroccans spend Laylat al-Qadr, the 26th day of Ramadan, at the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca.

    Ramadan: Not just Abstinence from Daily Intakes 

    By Abdellatif Oudra Rabat - The observance of Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam, compels Muslims to fast from sunrise to sunset. But it is not just about abstaining from food or drink.  Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is observed in commemoration of the revelation of Qur’an to the prophet Mohammad,...

  • Morocco Threatens to Terminate Agriculture Agreement with Europe

    Morocco and the EU: Managing the Future

    Rabat - Morocco enjoys proximity to Europe and is at an advantage of being favoured by the European Union as a close partner on political, economic, and cultural levels. Historical archives and political legacies tie Morocco directly with at least three influential European countries: France, Spain, and England. Demography, kinship, and immigration compel other EU...

  • The Educational and Cultural Implications of the Arab Spring

    The Educational and Cultural Implications of the Arab 'Spring'

    Rabat - In the last ten years or so, the Arab world has seen unprecedented collapses in the realms of politics and economy, among others. World NGOs regularly release area-specific rankings, in which Arab nations commonly rank at the bottom of lists in education, human rights, and income for instance while they top those of...

  • Thousands Hold Peaceful Demonstration in Memory of Mouhcine Fikri

    Al Hoceima and the Pedagogical Exercise

    Ottawa - What makes a democracy different from non-democracy? This is the classical and historical question asked by philosophers over the centuries and deeply questioned in the discipline of political science. Democracy cannot prevent inequality as the case in the United States where inequality is the highest globally. Democracy cannot stop corruption like in Brazil...