State of the Nation

A brief article in the Economist gives an overview of the current political situation in Morocco: The Equity and Reconciliation Commission, the changes to family law, the harassment of liberal journalists, and the rise of the Islamist parties. But:

By keeping most of the levers of power in his hands, King Mohammed has perpetuated the emasculation of the body politic established by his father. The king, and not the government, controls the ministries of defence, foreign affairs and the interior as well as countless commissions and authorities. He is the country’s most important farmer, biggest banker and most active venture capitalist. Most of the innovative ideas over the past few years–the Equity and Reconciliation Commission’s investigation into human-rights abuses under King Hassan, an ambitious human-development initiative designed to eradicate poverty, a report marking last month’s 50th anniversary of Moroccan independence that offered an unprecedented independent critique of government policy–have been royal projects.

In countless public buildings, caf├ęs and shops, gold-framed portraits of King Hassan still dwarf those of the present monarch. In the 1990s, Moroccans eagerly awaited Mohammed’s accession, hoping he would usher in a real transition to democracy, as had Spain’s King Juan Carlos, just across the straits of Gibraltar, two decades earlier. Morocco has no blueprint for its transition. The king is a notoriously bad communicator, granting few interviews and seeming ill at ease when delivering royal speeches. A Juan Carlos may have been a bit too much to expect, but Moroccans would at least like a clear a vision of future governance–if only to know where they stand.

Read it all here.