- 1 Chapter 19 of the Moroccan Constitution states that the “King, Amir al-Mu’minîn and the sublime re (...)
- 2 It is noted in this regard that many results of the studies about the monarchy are employed by th (...)
1The interest in the political party as a subject for scientific knowledge has remained limited in Morocco, especially during the last decades. The same can be said about the Arab world, where scientific interest remained focused on the inclusiveness of its political systems. This leads us to inquire about the reason behind the rarity of studies and research on the party phenomena, especially in Morocco. Is this rarity due to the awareness of its non-central role in the political system and the limitations of its effectiveness and the weakness of its capability to act in political life? Or is it due to the nature of the Moroccan political system, which is based on the existence of a ruling Monarchy? The outcome is that most studies about the Moroccan political system either start with the monarchy as a central subject (Robert, 1963), especially the Amir al-mu’minînor Commander of the Faithful (Waterbury, 1970; Mou’tasim, 1988) and chapter nineteen of the Constitution1, or end up about it. This is true even if the study is about one of the constitutional institutions like the Parliament or the Cabinet (Naciri, 1984; Agnouche, 1986); the King and the monarchal institution become the central subject in political studies and everything is explained by reference to the political and religious authorities of the constitutional King and Commander of the Faithful2.
2If the study of political parties in their entirety has methodological importance, in the sense of knowing the political behavior of partisans and the opposing strategies adopted in building and maintaining their legitimacy, the approach of studying one particular party provides the researcher with important knowledge By following the track of one political party, including its emergence, evolution and interaction with other political bodies, one can find preludes to explaining the extent of effectiveness of the party constituent and its functions. This explanation is on the institutional level (especially the work within the parliamentary institutions), the social level (education, cadre formation and awareness) and the political level (contribution to democracy transformation). In order to achieve this, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces party (in French: Union Socialiste des Forces Populaires, USFP) was chosen. This choice, which is not random, begs two methodological questions. Why the USFP as a case study? What is the theoretical and conceptual frame for this study that relies in its approach on a particular party?
3The importance of choosing the USFP as a new model for study and research is due to many elements that can be summarized as follow:
4The USFP is considered to be one of the most important parties of the national movement. It constitutes a necessary and principal equation in the Moroccan political system, in the sense that it has affected Moroccan political life ever since it split off from the Independence Party (Istiqlâl party) in 1959 as the National Union for Popular Forces (UNFP), especially after the extraordinary party convention in 1975 in which it changed its political and ideological track.
5The experience of this party was marked by prosperity in comparison to many socialist leftist parties, whether in Morocco or other Arab countries, in that the party was in direct confrontation with the monarchy. The party was also distinguished by its ability to persist despite its predicaments and divisions and was able at certain points in its history to achieve support of the masses.
- 3 We refer to what the party and its leaders were subject to arrests and assassinations. Criminal in (...)
6The USFP party was a principal party in the conflict with the monarchy. This conflict, at some moments in the history of Moroccan political life, took violent dimensions3. This conflict pushed the USFP into trying to adapt to the social changes, and attempt to develop and adjust its organization and ideas to the requirements and possibilities of reality. The party moved from drastic revolutionary choices to reformist ones and to participation and opposition from within the institutions. It made peace with the monarchy and has participated with it since 1998 in exercising power in the government.
7The importance of choosing this party is in the political transformation Morocco witnessed toward the end of the last century and the early years of the new millennium. The most visible political change in this period was the “alternance”: the King asked the leader of the USFP, which remained in the opposition for forty years, to form the new government in 1998, and the party accepted. Research and studies differ in defining its nature. The importance of this change for the party can be understood in two ways: the first is epistemological in that the experience enables the student and the researcher to look at the party from two different perspectives, that of the opposition and that of participation in government. Second, it allows researchers the possibility of verifying suppositions related to the ability of the party to implement its visions, ideas and the programs it advocated when practicing politics outside the government, now that it is participating in government. It can also illustrate the ability of the political party to realize the separating limits between ideas and practice through two rationales, that of the opposition and that of power and its institutions.
8This study seeks to analyze the existing and potential exchanges between the USFP and its political and social environment. This is done through tracking the organizational changes that the party witnessed in its structure, ideology, positions and political conduct. Consequently, the study will analyze the interactive relationship of this party with the legal and political transformations of the governmental system, and the extent to which these transformations reflect on its internal organization. It also analyzes the effect of this interaction on the desired track towards democracy.
9The first part of this work will look at the emergence and evolution of the USFP from the point of view that the circumstances and the track taken by this party have dominated its development. The second part will look at the evolution of the party, especially through its ideologies, organizational structure and political orientation. The third part will analyze the process in which the party moved from participation in representative institutions as an opposition party to internal participation in government.
10A political party goes through a life cycle during which it experiences phases and moments that have a strong influence on its identity, political structure, and political lines. The most important phases are its creation, license for the party, and entrance to representative institutions.
11Based on the above factors, this part of the study will make an attempt to look into important factors in the internal dynamics of USFP. This will be done by studying its emergence and growth and their influence on the party and its organizational structures and ideological identity, plus the extent of interaction of this organization with the nature of the political system. In order to achieve this, I will deal in this part of the study with two elements. The first one revolves around the roots of the USFP. In the second, I will concentrate on the dynamics of creation.
12The UFSP, which was first established as the National Union of Popular Forces, finds its roots in the national movement as a resistance movement
13The party phenomenon in Morocco was related to the movement for independence, driving out colonialism and recovering the unity of land and sovereignty (el-Benna, 1989, p. 407). Unlike their Western counterparts, political organizations in Morocco did not emerge as an institutional need tied to the Parliament and political representation. The party phenomenon emerged during the period of French colonialism. One can identify three principal elements to which the Moroccan political party was related:
French colonialism that did not recognize any form of political practice through elections.
- 4 This explains the betting of the national movement on the monarchy as a symbol of national unity, (...)
The emergence of a political elite that demanded rights and liberties for the people. Its principal demand was the right of independence and the recovery of national sovereignty. This last demand was tied with the unanimous agreement of the elite about the monarchy and its religious status4. This may explain the demand for the return of the King preceding the demand of independence (el-Malki, 2004).
The influence of national liberation movements and Arab nationalism on the orientation of the political elite; this rendered the “national ideology” a unifying element for the elite despite their different ideological sources, paths of emergence, and orientations.
14These elements clearly show that the distinctive founding principal of the party phenomenon in Morocco is the demand for independence (Rezette, 1955, p. 401). This particularity will define the structure and function of the political party during its emergence.
15The methodological importance of this historical prelude, which covers the roots of the emergence of political parties, is that it helps the researcher in explaining many political lines of these parties in the course of their interaction with the political system. It also explains the visions of the parties for building a national government, the nature of its institutions (Regnier, 1975, p. 355) and the role of the monarchy in it. In other words, these national roots will control the roles, strategies and positioning of the parties for many decades, especially during the decisive and watershed era in the history of independent Morocco, from 1956 to 1962. The era witnessed the secession of the National Union for Popular Forces (in French: Union Nationale des Forces Populaires, UNFP) from the Independence Party (Istiqlâl).
16Immediately after independence, the political forces in Morocco started to raise questions that had been put aside during the period of resistance against colonialism. The transitional period of 1956-1962 was marked by struggle for political power and control over government institutions between two forces: the Monarchy and the Istiqlâl party. Both were a symbol of nationalism and both were qualified to run public affairs.
17A reading of this political struggle in post-independent Morocco shows that in the face of a monarchy that attempted to cast aside and marginalize political parties - it had an unambiguous vision for the nature of the ruling system and political power – the independent party lacked a lucid social and political plan for the nature of rule and political power. The dominating leadership of the Istiqlâl party remained hesitant to take a clear and congruous position about the ruling monarchy and public policies adopted since independence in 1956. It became obvious that the ceiling of ambitions of the conservative wing that controls the decision-making process within the party was to assume the role of a dominating majority party within a framework of a parliamentary monarchy. The left-wingers of the party led by Muhammad Basri, Abdellah Ibrahim, and Mehdi Ben Barka rejected this ambition.
- 5 The Labor movement tried to exacerbate the work of the Cabinet headed by A. Balafrej (1958) in whi (...)
- 6 Mahjoub Ben Sediq, and Taïeb Ben Bouazza resigned from the political committee of the Istiqlâl par (...)
18The Istiqlâl party drew its strength and cohesion from a national identity and resisting colonialism. Even so, its internal contradictions stemmed from pursuing this element5, especially that the party did not form a united organization in its orientations and intellectual identity. Many opposing and contradicting currents crisscrossed within the party organization. They included the conservative-right movement, the resistance and the liberation army movement, the syndicate movement and the political movement. These movements were greatly opposed in their lines and political practice6. These contradictions led to the declaration of secession with the Istiqlâl party and the formation, in September 1959, of the UNFP. After resigning from the executive committee of the Istiqlâl party in November 1958, Mehdi Ben Barka established in January 1959 the Free Unions of the Istiqlâl party. Its leaders held their National Convention in April 1959, and in September 1959, it was renamed the National Union of Popular Forces.
19So the formative roots of the USFP, which was established in 1959 as UNFP, are due to the national movement and its internal contradictions. These contradictions were brought to the surface due to the major questions that the elite did not consider before 1956; especially the questions related to the nature of the national State, the nature of political authority in Morocco after independence and the paradox of democracy. The UNFP, since its establishment, tried to answer these questions.
20The dynamics of creating the National Union of Popular Forces included two phases: first, a short-lived coexistence with the monarchy; this time had an impact on the organizational and ideological structures of the party. Second, the party then moved to the opposition, which pushed the party towards radical positions.
21Through its creation phase and due to the presence of its cadres in the fourth Cabinet (1958-1960), leaded by Abdellah Ibrahim, one of the socialist leaders, the UNFP wagered on coexistence with the monarchy (Djaziri, 1997) and on avoiding a direct confrontation with it. Instead, it principally concentrated on trying to find and clarify an alternative social vision and an organizational frame that would restore the hope of popular forces (workers, farmers, the educated classes). However, the phase of coexistence did not endure so the party moved to the confrontation phase in December 1960, and to strong opposition of the political system.
22Given the party goals, orientations and organizational structures, we could make three principal observations:
- 7 See the complete text of the Founding Charter of the UNFP in USFP, From National Union to Socialis (...)
23The Founding charter of the UNFP7 avoided ideological sides and sectarian commencements. It concentrated on general goals that the left-wing current inside the Istiqlâl defended. These goals constituted the foundation of the program devised by the Cabinet headed by Abdellah Ibrahim, one of the UNFP General Secretariat members from 1958 to 1960, in order to reinforce independence and realize the unity of the land, economic liberation, social justice, agricultural reform and industrialization and nationalization (ibidem, p. 10).
- 8 See the complete text of the Founding Charter of the UNFP in USFP, From National Union to Socialis (...)
24During its creation phase, the party also avoided defining the nature of the political system and the nature of the political authority of the King. On that level, the party discourse was marked with a sort of moderation. The party principally concentrated on the necessity of “establishing a pragmatic democracy within the circle of a constitutional monarchy under the patronage of his Majesty Muhammad the Fifth”8.
- 9 Muhammad Basri, in charge of political affairs, Abderrahman al-Youssoufi, for press affairs, Mehdi (...)
- 10 The politicians that seceded from the Istiqlâl party are the Moroccan Union of Labor, the Resistan (...)
25Concerning the organizational structure of the UNFP, the party did not elect or appoint a secretary general. The leadership of the union was a collective one9, the “General Secretariat” with roles assigned among its members. This orientation is due to not wanting to reproduce the organizational structure of the Istiqlâl party, which is based on centralization (organization committee and a body of inspectors). The collective leadership was made up of many parties with differing and contradictory visions10. This rendered the UNFP exposed to internal struggles from the start.
26The instance of coexistence with the monarchy did not last for long. Despite the King’s recommendation of the Cabinet headed by Abdellah Ibrahim after the establishment of the National Union of Popular Forces, and despite Ibrahim’s caution and his avoidance, especially on the level of discourse, of entering into a direct confrontation with the monarchy, the king exhibited confrontational and even violent behavior towards the union movement. This behavior is illustrated in the following examples:
- 11 The manager of the newspaper Libération, Muhammad Basri, and its editor in chief, were arrested be (...)
- 12 Proclamation about a conspiracy against the monarchy was announced on December 14, 1960; in parall (...)
- 13 I mention here the mutiny that took place in the city of Beni Mellal, as a reaction to the arrest o (...)
27In December 1960, a series of political arrests of members of the UNFP began, under various charges, such as defaming the dignity of the King11, conspiracy against the regime and attempts on the life of the crown prince12. The arrests resulted in many strikes to express the refusal to be coerced of members of the resistance and the liberation army, who were affiliated with the party13.
28This is how the relationship between the King and the UNFP took a turn into a course of exclusion, conflict and struggle. Many manifestations that clarify this course of confrontation can be seen after the dismissal of the Cabinet of Abdellah Ibrahim in 1960. The position of the party became more radical as to the nature of the monarchy rule. The leaders of the party continued to assert, in the course of reevaluating the experience of the dismissed Cabinet, that the party found itself facing a “theocratic feudal system” whose main goal was the “preservation and revival of the traditional structures of Moroccan society. It did so in order to preserve the privileges of the old system and hinder the process of evolution and progress.” (Palazzoli, 1974, p. 248)
29The party refused to participate in the Council for the Constitution appointed by Muhammad V. The party reiterated the demand of a democratically-elected founding Council to write a Constitution that would be subject to public referendum. The party also refused to attend the crowning ceremony of King Hassan II on March 3rd, 1962, and to take part in the national unity government into which Hassan II tried to include all political parties. Moreover, UNFP leaders called for boycotting the referendum on the proposed Constitution prepared by the King in 1962.
- 14 One of the manifestations of the struggle between the syndicate wing and the political wing is the (...)
30In this crisis-ridden path, the party held its second convention from 25th to 27th of May 1962. The convention reflected the conflict that marked the relationship of the party to the King. It also reflected the struggle that erupted between the political wing of the party and the syndicate one, because of differences in the nature of dealing with the monarchy. The conflict of interests and the divergence of political balances pushed the syndicate wing into formulating stances that were opposed to the official line of the party. This was done in order to detach and isolate labor unions from the decisions of the party. Meanwhile, another current within the UNFP pushed towards adopting military action in order to overthrow the monarchy, because of conviction about the futility of political work; while a third orientation remained a believer in political struggle14.
- 15 The statement considered that the “revolutionary choice is the only choice for establishing a real (...)
- 16 The declaration of the central committee included the justifications for this boycott and the conf (...)
31It is clear, as mentioned above, that the National Union of Popular Forces entered into a direct confrontation with the monarchy system through supporting the revolutionary socialist choice, formulated by Mehdi Ben Barka in the “Revolutionary Option” document (L’Option révolutionnaire au Maroc). The party confirmed this choice in a statement for the secretariat-general on May 2nd, 196315, and during the central committee meeting on July 16th, of the same year. In this meeting it made the decision to boycott the general election16.
- 17 The arrests included 130 cadres from the party; among them were A. al-Youssoufi, and A. Bouabid, a (...)
- 18 I refer here in particular to the events of Casablanca on March 23rd, 1965. On that day, the city (...)
- 19 The failure resulted in the withdrawal of popular movement from the constitutional defense front, (...)
32In the course of this revolutionary choice, an announcement was made by the monarchy about “uncovering a conspiracy to change the government system and overthrow the ruling regime”. Parallel to this announcement, the cadres and militants of the party were subject to repeated collective arrests17. This state of tension between the UNFP (along with the political parties that sprang from the national movement) and the monarchy resulted in social protests18 and institutional imbalance due to the failure of the majority in the May legislative round19.
- 20 The wings of the party tried to overcome their differences especially the ones between the syndica (...)
33All these events led the King to declare a state of emergency, according to chapter 35 of the 1962 Constitution. This declaration was an admission of the presence of a grave crisis among the political players (Berrahou, 1986). Managing this crisis based on usual constitutional authority and mechanisms became impossible. This empowered the King, by chapter 35 of the Constitution, to declare a state of emergency, which lasted five years (1965 to 1970). During this period, the National Union of Popular Forces entered a state of stalemate whereby it closed many of its offices, and the struggle among its factions deepened20. It became necessary to reevaluate the party organization as a whole in order to move beyond the immobility and to overcome the organizational blocks and ideological mix that the differing factions of the party set up concerning the way to deal with the monarchy and the new political situation. The party attempted to achieve this in its extraordinary convention in 1975.
34This part of the research aims to detect the evolution of internal dynamics that the USFP witnessed during the phase that followed its emergence as the National Union of Popular Forces, especially the turning period in the party history on the ideological, political and organizational level, which began during the extraordinary convention in 1975. The importance of considering this evolution lays in the following:
The importance of the general context of the whole of the political system, which went through a transitional phase between 1975 and 1990; the political players felt paralyzed and powerless. Doubts about principals, individuals and the legitimacy of the system reigned. As a result, political and social contradictions emerged. This reflected on the work of institutions and limited their efficiency. The contradictions became a source for other crises that can be seen in the political behaviors of the players, namely the monarchy and the political parties.
The Extraordinary convention of 1975, which is described in party literature and documents as the “convention of the new start”, represented an evolutionary phase and a cessation with the past phase of the party. The party tried to review its strategic choices on the ideological, organizational and political level in order to overcome the barriers that prevented its unity. The convention laid the foundation for a party cadre with clear identity, leadership and structures.
The interactive relationship between the party and the political system witnessed a very important development, in which the party moved from radical discourse that denied legitimacy to existing political order, to a reformative political discourse with criticisms revolving around constitutional legitimacy and the necessity of reforms. The most important factor in this development is the acceptance by the party to participate in representative institutions within a strategy that ties the political line with religious thinking.
35This part will look into the interactive relationship between the party and its environment. We will also look into the extent of the influence of the ideological structures of the party on its role, strategic choices and level of performance. This will be done through three elements: the first one detects the path of important developments that the party underwent. The second will present the significance of these developments on the ideological and organizational structures. The third will detect the extent of reflection of these ideological and organizational developments on the shift in the political practice of the party, from radical opposition to constitutional participation in elections and the acceptance of working from within the institution.
36The declaration of the state of emergency constituted an admission of the crisis of the political system, its failure in the absence of political and institutional balances, and the lack of agreements among political players. This situation led the King to consolidate all authority into his own hands. This consolidation was manifested in many aspects, the most important of which are:
Cancellation of the Prime Ministry. After declaring a state of emergency, the King assumed the role of head of state and prime minister. At the same time, he moved closer to the army and gave it a stronger role.
Inflating the role of the administrative body and reinforcing its position, especially the Ministry of Interior, which consolidated clientelism.
Isolating political parties and marginalizing their representative and cadre formation roles.
37This orientation led to immobility, inability to gain mass support and isolation of the political system, which reduced its legitimacy. An attempt was made to get out of this state of political void, by ending the state of emergency and conducting a formative referendum in order to approve a new Constitution in 1970. Nevertheless, this did not prevent the appearance of a new and unexpected element in Moroccan political life: the army, which attempted two coups in 1971 and 1972.
38Following the declaration of the state of emergency, and the abduction and assassination of theoretician Mehdi Ben Barka, the UNFP entered a political and organizational phase of decline, whereby its mobilizing and enrollment activities stopped, and the gap between its syndicate wing and the political one deepened. These conditions prevented the party from holding its third convention at the end of 1965, which might have helped the party to reorganize itself, and reframed its political work in a crisis-ridden path distinguished by marginalizing the political parties, a descendant of the national movement.
- 21 The most important goals are “establishing a social, economic and political democracy that allows (...)
- 22 The Moroccan union for work, the principal sustainer of the syndicate current, did not take a clea (...)
- 23 The stands of both currents were different during the negotiations with the King which extended fr (...)
39In order to overcome its organizational stalemate and insure continuity, the UNFP allied with the Istiqlâlparty. They established a framework for coordination between the two parties through founding the Kutla wataniyya, “National Bloc” on July 22nd, 1970. The founding pact of this framework was limited to defining common general goals21, and to forming a “central committee” for coordinating and implementing these goals. The Kutla enabled the UNFP to break the stalemate. However, it did not prevent the struggle between the syndicate and the political from persisting and worsening. This led to contradiction in their stances on political detainees22 and on managing the negotiations with the King23.
- 24 Among the most important decisions was the decision of the principal to call the convening of the (...)
- 25 Especially al-Faqih Basri who was sentenced to death on the charge of involvement with the July 19 (...)
- 26 The events consisted of armed group attacks using explosives in Rabat, Casablanca and Meknès, with (...)
- 27 The report of the suspension of the party on April 2nd, 1973.
40This disagreement led to rupture between the two currents inside the UNFP. This rupture was confirmed on the organizational level on July 30th, 1972 with the meeting of the administrative committee of the party without the presence of the supporters of the syndicate current. The committee made many decisions related to managing and running the party24. This meeting resulted in a split of the national union. Two groups emerged. The Rabat group, led by Abderrahim Bouabid, was known as the National Union of Popular Forces, i.e., the administrative committee. The Casablanca group represented by Abdellah Ibrahim, kept the original name of the party in the context of conflict between the two groups. The break with the syndicate wing did not prevent the party from blending political work with the adoption of armed struggle, which was tied to a group of party cadres25. This group was subject to a series of arrests following the March 1973 events26, and the suspension of its activities for four months27. These events led the Rabat group to declare a rupture with the military-based group, in addition to the previously established organizational rupture with the syndicate wing. The group decided, in the meeting of its “central committee” in September 1974, to change the name of the party from the UNFP to the USFP. The new name was then approved by the Extraordinary convention of the party in 1975.
41 Reviewing the history of the UNFP confirms that it is not a political party united in its positions. Moreover, the party’s top components do not agree on common goals and ideas. Instead, it is a political organization with numerous leaders, each from his own organizational position. For example, al-Faqih Basri represented the party and took political lines from within the framework of the resistance and the liberation army. Al-Mahjoub Ben Sadiq and Abdellah Ibrahim took their stances from within the labor union framework, while both Abderrahim Bouabid and Mehdi Ben Barka worked from within the party framework.
42From an ideological point of view, it is clear that the party lacks a clear ideological vision that encompasses political work. This explains the absence of scrutiny in numerous concepts that direct the work of a party, such as the relation between the labor union and the political one and the limits of the relation between armed action and political action, scientific socialism, popular liberation war, and revolutionary choice. This is perhaps what the party will try to overcome through ideological clarity and political work based on a strategy of democratic struggle and on organizational structures with defined responsibilities and specialties.
43The Extraordinary convention constituted an opportunity for the party to develop its ideological beliefs, whereby (a) it relied on a strategy of “democratic struggle”(b) these choices reflected on the political conduct of the party, which moved from the political opposition to the system into a constitutional opposition from within representative institutions.
44The ideological statement adopted by the extraordinary convention of the USFP constituted a qualitative step in the history of political parties in Morocco. The statement presented a profound coordinated vision for the social, political and economic evolution of Moroccan history before, during and after colonialism. The importance of the statement was that it nominally unified the way members of the party view its political identity, vision and theoretical foundations. It did so through abandoning radical and revolutionary choices, and adopting a clear ideology based on democratic struggle from within the constitutional institutions. What are the elements of this new orientation of the party? What are the reflections of this choice on the role of the party in the political system?
- 28 USFP, The ideological statement documents of the extraordinary convention, Casablanca, 10-11-12 Ja (...)
- 29 Ibid., p. 145
45The essence of the socialist choice can be summarized in liberation, democracy and socialism. The concepts that the statement considered constitute “three interconnected and intertwined goals, each relying on the rest; they form one undivided goal, with no preference of one element over the other elements”28. The statement adds that achieving economic and social development is tied to one principal that can be summarized in “the necessity to transform the structures of the mechanism of the State, and establishing democracy”29. This necessary condition will form a prelude on which the party will build a strategy of struggle based on the pillars of political democracy as a main element to achieving social and economic democracy.
46It is clear from the mentioned elements that the ideological statement combined socialism, democracy and liberation. This way it would set the stage for a new orientation of its historical path. This orientation is based on social democracy, which combines political democracy and socialist planning. Attempting to bring the socialist choice closer to the specifics of Moroccan society, the statement avoided falling into the dogmatic tendency that marked the experiences of communist parties. The statement also clarified the new choices of the party, which were summarized in counting on the body of government to achieve change from within, by accessing representative institutions through free and honest elections.
- 30 The third convention of the USFP was held between 8th and 10th December 1978. It constituted an oc (...)
- 31 USFP, Documents of the third convention, 8-10 December 1978, second edition, April 1984, p. 19. [in (...)
- 32 The principal demand of the USFP the election of a establishing council for writing the constituti (...)
- 33 USFP, The political statement documents of the third convention, op. cit., p. 20. [in Arabic]
47The third convention of the party in 197830 consolidated this democratic choice, asserting that it was a conscious and contemplated choice and that it could deepen the consciousness of the masses about their issues and problems: “We doubt not that our vigilant and responsible presence in those institutions will soon give results and maybe sooner then expected“31. In the same vein, the political statement of the convention went on to demand review of the constitutional treatise32 with the prospect of reforming the system and shifting it from an absolute monarchy to constitutional, parliamentary and democratic monarchy33.
- 34 The fourth convention of the USFP was held between 13/15 July 1984. This convention lowered the ha (...)
- 35 The fifth convention was held between 30-31 May and April 2nd 1989.
48The fourth (1984)34 and fifth (1989)35 conventions followed the same ideological path i.e. the “democratic choice”, whereby the party remained loyal to its slogans, which regulates it identity, liberation, socialism and democracy. The party stressed the establishment of the national democratic state based on a parliamentary constitutional system.
- 36 USFP, Papers of the fourth national convention, April 1989, p. 50. [in Arabic]
- 37 USFP, Resolutions of the fifth national convention, April 1989, p. 79. [in Arabic]
49The party backed off on its demand for a parliamentary monarchy and replaced it with the demand for endorsing “a completely responsible governmental authority that enjoys a freely expressed and strong confidence” and is subject to democratic monitoring and follow up36. This was the demand adopted by the fifth convention, which demanded the amending of the Constitution in the context of a constitutional monarchy and balance of power37.
50Did the party achieve the tie it sought between the political line and the ensuing resolutions? In addition, what are the results of the party practicing the democratic choice?
- 38 The “democratic process” in the Moroccan political discourse refers to the phase of political open (...)
- 39 USFP, Election Program: for deepening the democratic struggle. Legislative elections 1977, June 19 (...)
51By supporting democratic choice and political and ideological clarity, the USFP entered a new phase, enrolling in the national consensus about the issue of the Sahara and participation in the “democratic process”38. This was manifested through participation in representative institutions within the framework of constitutional legitimacy. The USFP participated in the collective elections on November 12th, 1976, and the legislative elections on June 3rd, 1977, on a platform that agreed with the ideological choice of the party39. The party won fifteen seats in the elections and constituted the only opposition group in the Parliament.
- 40 The imbalance in the national consensus is due to the stand of the USFP on the Nairobi recommendat (...)
- 41 The USFP withdrew from the Parliament on October 5th 1981, in a letter addressed to the Speaker of (...)
52By acting in such a manner, the USFP moved from a party that opposes the system from without to a party practicing constitutional opposition from within the representative institutions. The discourse of the party also moved from a radical discourse towards the monarchy to a reformative discourse calling for reforming institutions and fortifying them against fraud and corruption. The party remained true to its reformative discourse despite the moments where it took radically-oriented political positions, especially its position on the referendum in the Moroccan Sahara, which led to imbalance in the national consensus around that national issue40. In addition, its stances that called for the withdrawal of its deputies from the Parliament led to an institutional imbalance41.
- 42 See a circular by the regional publication of the party in Rabat dated January 1983, which asserte (...)
53This stance constituted the emergence of the contradictions that were at work within the USFP between a pro-election faction that strongly defended the continuation of participating in representative institutions, and a faction that opposed that participation and called for withdrawal from fake representative institutions because participating in them is “domestication of the class struggle”42. This disagreement within the USFP about the nature of democratic struggle led to negative organizational changes. These changes were manifested in the splitting of the party since the events of May 3rd, 1983, between the USFP political bureau and the USFP administrative committee that opposed the official choices of the party; administrative committee which had been enrolled, on October 6, 1991, within a framework of a political party called the Democratic and Socialist Avant-Garde Party (PADS).
54The split constituted an indicator of the inability of the party to manage differences within its organizational structure and its incapability of institutionalizing the opposing currents inside the party.
- 43 A royal pardon was issued for the leaders of the party A. Bouabid, M. al-Yazighi and M. Lahbabi wh (...)
- 44 Prior to that, the party participated in the national unity government formed on November 30, 1983 (...)
55The USFP resumed its participation in representative institutions, after ridding itself of the faction opposing this participation and after restoration of its relation with the monarchy43. The party participated in the communal elections on June 10th, 1983 and obtained 3.46% of the votes. In 1984, it ran in the legislative elections, and obtained thirty-six seats (36 % of the votes)44.
56The party remained loyal to its electoral choice to the point of participating in governmental practice in 1998. The party participated in the representative institution from the position of constitutional opposition. It participated in the legislative elections in 1993, (which followed the vote of the USFP against the 1992 Constitution), and obtained forty-eight seats. It also participated in the legislative elections in 1997, and won fifty-two seats. During this time, the party exercised a constitutional opposition. However, its opposition was restricted, monitored and limited in its dimensions. This caused the party to justify constantly its participation in the representative institutions. At times, it justified its participation as the necessity of unifying the internal front and confronting the outside dangers facing Morocco. At other times, it justified its participation in the Parliament as necessary in order to express the opinions of the working masses regarding change and fighting corruption and delinquency in all fields. Moreover, the participation in elections provided the possibility of expanding the base and role of the party in society.
57If the party needed such justifications in order to legitimize its participation in representative institutions, then the move to participate in government within what political players agreed to call “consensual alternance” in 1998 brought the party into a major transformative phase.
- 45 The USFP, Ideological report, op. cit. p. 171, 1975.
58The Extraordinary convention of 1975, in its ideological and organizational report, explored the importance of organization in the course of the democratic choice that the party adopted. The report asserted that these important choices are dependent on organizing and restructuring the party. This is to be done in a way that makes the party an “organization that uses its behavior, the quality of relations that reign between the party and its militants and the degree of the political and ideological formation of all its cadres and supporters, as a model that honestly reflect the image of socialist society it seeks to build”45. The exploration of these organizational sides in the convention can be explained as an attempt by the party to transcend the previous era, which was marked by the ineffectiveness of its institutions and the multiplicity of the decision-making sources within it. The socialist union, in many of its previous phases, lived more on its line and its ideological and symbolic capital than on its organizational structures, which suffered many defects. To remedy this situation, the party worked on establishing the principal of centralized democracy in order to rehabilitate the party on the organizational level. Moreover, the principal and internal rules of the party defined the base for the democratic functioning of the party. This was done in order to control relations among different structures of the party. In addition, these rules laid the foundations for a more rational party structure.
- 46 In its previous phases, the party adopted decentralized democracy on its organizational level where (...)
- 47 See the presentation of the organizational report by M. al-Yazghi, al-Muhârer, 11-1- 1975.
- 48 Ibid., p. 47.
- 49 The first national congress for the Unionist Youth, 22th-25th December 1978, discussed the propose (...)
59The ideological report of 1975 asserted the principal of centralized democracy as a mechanism that insured the cohesion of the organizational structures of the party and “protects it from pitfalls in its strategy or tactics”46. From the point of view presented in the report, this principal adopted by the party insures, on the central, regional and local level, “the expansion of the participation of the union base in the activities of the union and guarantees the effectiveness and callosity of responsible divisions. In addition, it lowers the heavy-handedness which at times was responsible for the paralysis that some branches and regions suffered from”47. This situation led the party to explore at length, during the convention, the necessity of establishing, reinforcing and activating centralized democracy, since it was the principal guarantor that the party would abide by the rules of discipline and compliance; in addition, centralized democracy would increase he speed of implementing decisions and efficiency in executing them the right way48. It is noticeable, on the level of divisions, structures and organizations of the party, that the Extraordinary convention laid the foundations for a modern political party, by having an official and recognized leadership. A first secretary who is the spokesperson represents this leadership, which enjoys the trust of all members. It also established operating, decision-making, orienting and organizing divisions: on the national level (the general convention, the national administrative committee, the central committee), and on the regional and local levels (the regional conventions, regional and branches offices). Similarly, the ideological report and the organizational decree of the party stressed the necessity of reinforcing the cadres formation capabilities of the union by being open to youth and women. Based on this, the internal law of the party established special corresponding organizations and structures tied to the party, especially the Unionist Youth Division (shabîba ittihadiyya)49, and a special organization for the women sector that “provides the female members of the union with the possibility of contributing to the integrated party structure”.
- 50 The compliance of principal system of the USFP with Law number 04-36 on political parties issued i (...)
- 51 The internal law of the USFP, which was approved in the national council in its session on October (...)
- 52 See USFP, Documents of the sixth national convention, Casablanca May 28th-April 3rd, 2001. [in Ara (...)
- 53 The convention was held on December 8th, 9th and 10th 1998.
- 54 USFP, Report on the activity on the union 4 years of practice: 1975-1978, Preparation committee fo (...)
60However, the party structure and it decision-making and operating divisions such as the principal system50 and the internal law51, which currently regulate the party and its structure, have not had, since the Extraordinary convention, any fundamental or even partial amendments. The exception to this is a set of organizational and operational rules formulated by the sixth convention of the party52. It is noted that, during the period following the extraordinary convention, the principal of centralized democracy was not abided by nor activated. The preparation committee for the third convention of the socialist union53 stressed the malfunction that befell party divisions due to lack of respect for the centralized democracy principal. This exposed the party to disorganization, lack of control and discipline and defining responsibility and accountability54. This situation affected party divisions on the national, local and regional levels.
61Since its establishment as a national union, 1996 was the first time that the USFP voted yes on the Constitution. Prior to that, its stand on the issue of the Constitution was utter refusal of the Constitution that the King presented for referendum. Two years after its yes vote, the party moved from constitutional opposition to participating in the government - even to heading it, by the First Secretary of the party, Abderrahman al-Youssoufi. His trajectory is embedded in USFP history. His political career started in 1943 with his adhesion to the IstiqlâlParty and by organizing the working class in Casablanca (1944-1949). He also participated in the creation and leadership of the Resistance Movement and the Liberation Army between 1953 and 1956. In 1959, he was one of the founders of the National Union of Popular Forces (UNFP). Member of the General Secretary of the Party, he was also the Chief Editor of al-Tahrîr, the official organ of the party (1959-1965). He was arrested and sentenced to death on charges related to overthrowing the regime and defaming the person of the King in 1963, and reprieved in 1965. Following Mehdi Ben Barka’s kidnapping, he went into exile between 1965 and 1980. In 1978, after the death of Abderrahim Bouabid, he was nominated first Secretary of USFP. He resigned in September 1993 but took office again in 1995.
62These lines are a principal and strategic transformation that reflects a major connection between the growth of the party and change of the political system towards constitutional reform and democratization and towards bringing political parties of the opposition into power. What are the procedural indications according to which we use the concept of transformation to describe these transitions? That is the transition of the regime towards democracy and the transition of the party constituent from opposition to the government, plus the transition of the relationship between the political system and its party constituents to a new phase.
63We do not employ the concept of transformation in this study to express the transition from one structure to a different one. We also do not use this concept to indicate the abandonment of one mode for the sake of another one. We employ the concept to indicate the transitional state and conditions that the USFP went through when moving from participating in representative institutions from a constitutional opposition position, to working within government institutions from the majority standpoint. This transformation or transition was done within the framework of continuity.
64What, then, is the course of this transition? What is the effect of the economic and social situation and international variables on the transformation of the political system towards constitutional reform? What is the effect of these situations on the position of the USFP from the political system and the constitutional reform? Did these situations have an influence in bringing about the transition from consensual democracy by agreeing on the revised Constitution and agreeing to preside over a government based on consensual “alternance”? What are the reflections of these agreements on the party? Was the USFP a player and a contributor in the transformation via a thorough, thoughtful strategy? Alternatively, was the party subject to transformation?
65In order to present preliminary answers to these questions, I will concentrate on two elements: First, the influence of social, economic and international conditions on the transformation of the political system, and through it to the transformation of the lines of party constituents regarding constitutional reform and second, the essence of this transformation was tied to the concept of the transition to consensual democracy and its reflections on the USFP.
66The transformation of the political system and the change of the stands of the USFP during the 1990s were linked with economic and social conditions and international variables. This forced on the monarchy, the USFP and the remaining opposition parties the necessity of interacting politically with these conditions. A manifestation of this was the agreement of political players that constitutional and political reform was necessary as a prelude to change. The most important aspect of this awareness is that it reflected, in its patterns and content, the renewal of the pact between the monarchy and the opposing political parties whose positive interaction with constitutional reform constituted an indicator of the beginning of the transformation.
- 55 The demonstrations included the health, education and ports sectors. The most dangerous one was th (...)
- 56 The quantitative evolution of the opposition movements that Morocco experienced makes the intermed (...)
67At the start of the 1990s, economic conditions changed, marked by inflation and rising debt, deficit trade balance and weak agricultural production because of the drought years of 1990-1992. In addition Parliament and the Cabinet adopted, through the mandate of the elected Parliament of 1984, a public policy with liberal dimensions to implement the policy of structural adjustment. This economic situation reflected on the social situation (Santucci and Benhlal, 1991) whereby the phenomenon of social protest grew through many demonstrations and sectorial strikes55. These protesting movements were striking for their continuity, lack of cadre formation56 and centralization in the urban sphere.
- 57 See the Royal inauguration speech of the legislative session on October 13th, 1995.
68The reports prepared by the World Bank, upon the request of Hassan II, expressed the dangerous social and economic situation Morocco was undergoing. These reports constituted the subject of the King’s inauguration of the legislative session on October 13, 1995. The Moroccan Monarch stressed in the course of commenting on the reports that they are “based on a tormenting reality, painful numbers and comparisons that keeps every conscience awake”57.
- 58 During this period, the international relations witnessed many variables and developments that eng (...)
- 59 B. Leymonie, « Les nouvelles couches sociales entrent en scène », le Monde Diplomatique, November (...)
69In addition to the effect of the economic and social situation, international variables reflected on the political system. In the late 1980s and early 1990s58, the international scene underwent many changes, whereby totalitarian (Badie and Smouts, 1995, p. 33), military and one-party regimes crumbled59. Because of the transformations that the world order witnessed, many criteria on the level of dealing among states were emplaced; such as adopting the values of liberal democracy, especially political multiplicity, general elections, separation of powers and the reduction of the sphere of “internal public affairs” whereby the subject of human rights became an internal issue with international dimensions.
- 60 In this regard we can cite the condemnation by Amnesty International in its reports throughout the (...)
- 61 Such as founding the Consulting Council for human rights, which was established in Zhair Sharif. S (...)
70Within this setup, one can understand the influence of the international and global community on the Moroccan political system by monitoring the track of democracy and human rights conditions in Morocco60 through reports issued by international institutions specializing in the human rights domain. This put the Moroccan political system in a crisis with international and local public opinion, despite its attempt to find legal and institutional solutions for the human rights issue61.
71In order to transcend this economic and social crisis and to keep up with international variables, the State adopted economic liberalism. This was manifested by encouraging individual initiative, liberating prices, reforming the financial and taxation system and formulating a privatization program in 1989 (Malki, 1993). This was done to encourage individual initiative and attract foreign investments. This program was an indicator of the increasing retreat of the role of the State from the economic sphere, while at the same time trying to increase its financial capabilities in order to meet social demands.
72It is noted that this betting on economic openness and on the values of economic liberalism, such as individual initiative, competition and encouraging investment was not accompanied by political evolution. The political system remained a closed and static one, where values contradicting the liberal ideology adopted by the government reigned. Elections lacked the conditions for freedom, integrity and competition and the parties of the opposition lived on the margin of the system. There were also restrains on public freedoms and human rights. The awareness of this contradiction led to contemplating constitutional and political reforms and to opening channels with the opposition by involving it in a general strategy for reform.
- 62 This memorandum included the most important demands of the USFP and the Istiqlâl party concerning (...)
- 63 The Kutla dîmuqrâtiyya, Democratic Bloc, was established by five opposition parties in the course (...)
73In their vision for reform, the political players - the monarchy and political parties, especially the USFP - started from the assumption that the constitutional pact was not up to date with the requirements of Moroccan society, the liberal model the State chose, or with international changes. Consequently, the players unanimously agreed on the necessity of amending the Constitution in the name of reinforcing democracy. Going back to the memorandum of the Istiqlâl party and the USFP, on October 9th, 199162, and the memorandum of the Kutla, on June 19th, 199563, and to the amended Constitution on September 4th, 1992, one can see the most important elements that the monarchy and political parties agreed on including in the constitutional reform program. These elements were included in the approved Constitution of 1996.
- 64 See in particular, chapter 59 of the 1992 Constitution, which acknowledges the double responsibili (...)
74In summary, the most important elements are the establishing of the concept of the nation of law by the reformed Constitution through constitutional consolidation of human rights. In addition to that, the Constitutional Council was revived, and it specialties expanded. Moreover, a special position was dedicated for representative institutions, through fortifying the monitoring role of the Parliament via the possibility of forming fact-finding committees. The constitutional reform also reconsidered the relations between powers towards more balance amongst them, and empowered them with means to exercise their specialties and develop their work. In reading the texts that regulate relations among powers (the Monarchy, the Parliament and the Cabinet), one can assert that the 1996 constitutional reform took the path of transforming the system from a presidential monarchy, to one with some elements of a parliamentary monarchy64.
75If these constitutional amendments took into consideration the recommendations commanded by the USFP, which were expressed by the memorandums to the King through the Kutla, the contemplation of the participatory strategy through which the process of constitutional reforms took place can be considered the beginning of the political transition in the party position on the constitutional issue. This is in spite of its negative stand on the referendum for approving the Constitution that included these reforms. Now, we conclude that the economic and social conditions and the international variables reflected positively on the Moroccan political system, in the shape of political and constitutional reform and towards the transition to consensual democracy.
76The essence of the political transformations that the political system and the party constituent witnessed, in the progression of moving towards consensual democracy, can be summarized through the agreement on the 1996 Constitution, and the move by the party to lead the consensual “alternance” Cabinet. These transformations had negative reflections on the the socialist union, both politically and organizationally.
77One of the principal elements that studies about the democratic transition concentrated on, regardless of their theoretical bases and methodological orientations, is the consensual progression (Enhaily, 1999, p. 67-68), through which rules and legal norms and standards that govern the political game were formulated, and the process of producing these norms as well as the agreement and accord of the political players concerning them. Perhaps the most important feature that marked the post-constitutional reforms period is the commencement of the consensual cycle, starting with the USFP voting positively on the 1996 Constitution. This consensual cycle was crowned by the appointment of the “Alternance” Cabinet.
- 65 The strategic report on Morocco 1995-1996, Rabat, Center for social sciences research and studies, (...)
78The USFP, and the parties springing from the national movement, took a positive stance in 1996 by voting yes, for the first time through its history, on the referendum for the amended Constitution. This positive stand can be considered an expression of an agreement between the parties and the monarchy on the rules and standards of the political system. The unanimously agreed-upon Constitution formed a crowning of two tracks. First was the resumption of the discussion about the constitutional issue, after the approval of the 1992 Constitution, especially after the indirect legislative election held in 1993. The second track is the one of realization by political players of the common danger, which was summarized by the late King in the report of the International Monetary Fund in 199565, that Morocco is facing the “danger of a heart attack”. This realization of the common danger was expressed by the players by the reduction of their legitimacy in the face of the difficulties of crisis, especially the distribution crisis and the participation and representation crisis.
79The two tracks facilitated negotiation and dialogue among political players and during the process of producing the negotiated standards. This gave the opposition parties, especially the USFP, which remained in the opposition for forty years, the legitimacy of contributing to reaching the agreement. It also bestowed a degree of independence on the resulting rules and standards.
- 66 The USFP justified its positive vote on the 1996 Constitution in a statement from its central comm (...)
80The track of formulating the 1996 Constitution, and the yes vote it received from the USFP66, is a positive indicator in the process of moving towards consensual democracy in Morocco. This is clear through the agreement on the following standards:
Agreement on the formal framework of the Moroccan political system (constitutional monarchy), and the absence of any demand for a different form of government (such as demand for a republic).
Agreement on the constitutional philosophy that shapes the system, the monarchy, Islam and multiplicity of parties.
Agreement that the democratic transition can only take place within the constitutional institutions, thus transcending revolutionary choices.
Agreement on granting relativity to the visions and discourses of political players; this opened the door for new mechanisms to emerge in the cooperation between the monarchy and the opposition parties, such as dialogue, mutual agreement and political meetings.
- 67 See the joint statement of the public authorities and the political parties on February 28th, 1997 (...)
Agreement among political parties of the opposition and their acceptance of the central role of the King in defining the types and contents of the mechanisms and assurances of the agreement67.
These agreements constituted a prelude to incorporating political parties in the work of the government through the “consensual alternance” Cabinet.
- 68 See text of the Royal speech in which the King formulated this suggestion: al-Maghrib, 8-11-1993. (...)
- 69 See text of the Royal speech in which the King formulated the second suggestion for rotation: Le M (...)
81The political and institutional dynamic of the 1990s affirmed that the participation of the left opposition in government work, especially the USFP, became a “necessity” and a “principal prelude for democratic transition” and to “save the country”. This may explain the connection of political and constitutional reform, which was launched at the beginning of the decade, with the dispute among political actors (the monarchy and the opposing political parties) about political “alternance”. If the political players agreed on the necessity of “alternance”, as one of the conditions for change and democratic transition, they disagreed on its content and the mechanisms for achieving it. By reviewing the two propositions that the King presented to the opposition parties for forming the consensual cabinet - the first one on October 24th, 199168, the second one on October 14th, 199469 - and by reviewing the response of the political parties, one notices two opposing visions for the conditions and mechanisms for achieving “alternance”. The first is the vision of the monarchy, which considers “alternance” a grant, in which the King assures the conditions for its success, due to the centrality of his vast authority. The second vision is that of the opposition parties, which considers the “alternance” as democratic; it starts with ballot boxes, i.e. from the will of the electoral body.
82However, after the agreement on the 1996 Constitution, and after the political failure of the 1997 elections, the opposition unanimously agreed that it lacked impartiality. The King suggested forming a Cabinet for “consensual alternance”. The USFP and the parties of the Kutla, with the exception of the Organization for Popular Democratic Labor (OADP), accepted the suggestion. Thus, this Cabinet confirmed the negotiation and agreement track between the monarchy and the opposition parties. On February 6th, 1998, the King received the first secretary of the USFP, Mr. Abderrahman al-Youssoufi, appointed him Prime Minister, and entrusted him with forming a Cabinet based on parliamentary majority. Starting from the way the Cabinet was formed, its structure and components, the following qualitative notes can be detected:
- 70 The Cabinet was formed with seven parties, including the USFP, which assumed fourteen ministries; (...)
83The coalition nature of this Cabinet: the USFP had to form an alliance with six other parties70 in order to insure a parliamentary majority and form the cabinet. The “consensual alternance” experiment took place outside of the election formula, since none of the political parties or coalition of parties received the majority in the Parliament.
- 71 A. al-Youssoufi asserted the contractual nature of this Cabinet and believed that his appointment (...)
84The contractual nature of the Cabinet: the Cabinet drew its legitimacy from its contractual nature, between the King and the socialist union, which had remained in the opposition for forty years71. The essence of this contract is summarized in political reform, saving the country and the “democratic transition”. King Muhammad VI affirmed, after the death of his father Hassan II on July 23rd, 1999, this contractual dimension in supporting the Cabinet in his first speech upon assuming the throne.
- 72 The left was comprised of the USFP and the Socialist Democratic Party, which severed with the Orga (...)
85This contractual and coalition nature of the Cabinet had an influence on its components, whereby the Prime Minister transcended the ideological identity of the parties that formed the Cabinet. The Cabinet was made of parties from the left, conservative right, and parties in the middle72, in addition to the sovereign ministers who are connected to the King as Commander of the Faithful. The sovereign ministers were given central ministries, such as the interior, justice, endowment and Islamic affairs and exterior ministries.
86The political players gave the Cabinet a rescuing dimension. The USFP based its participation and leadership of the “alternance” Cabinet on the necessity of “saving the country“ and contributing to general economic and social reform73.
- 74 The central committee of the party, in its decision to support the “Alternance Cabinet” asserted, (...)
87This Cabinet was market by its transitional nature whereby the USFP asserted that the consensual “alternance” is of a transitional nature and a prelude towards a real “alternance” based on ballot boxes through free and impartial elections74.
88From these notes concerning the forming and the course of appointing the consensual “alternance” Cabinet and its components, the question is raised about its program and the outcome of its work. The program of the Cabinet, which was presented by Prime Minister Abderrahman al-Youssoufi, to the Parliament in April 1998, revolves around the issue and paradox of change and achieving “general reform”.
- 75 See the Cabinet program, USFP, 18-4-1998.
89The Prime Minister stated that in order to achieve these goals, priorities for working towards change should be designed: abolishing privileges, fighting bribery, misuse of power, settlement of human rights issues, engendering political life through reconsideration of the voting system and eliminating once and for all every source of political protest about its results, and working on engendering public life and reforming the justice system75.
90The comment that can be made concerning the declaration by the Cabinet is that it did not deviate from major strategic directions of the State. The declaration asserted the liberal choice of the State, through encouraging free initiative, foreign investments and the continuation of privatization. Moreover, the declaration by the Cabinet outlined an urgent program that aims at finding solutions for social problems, as well as transcending the difficult economic situation through controlling financial balances and ensuring the stability of the national economy.
- 76 King Hassan II, asserted on March 3rd, 1998: “Considering that the one sitting on the thrown is th (...)
91The “alternance” Cabinet achieved some of the goals it set in its program, such as the projects related to retirement funds and social security and a relative expansion of the margin of freedom and contributing to reform in education and the family code. Nevertheless, a reading into the actual practice of the “alternance” Cabinet helps us understand the limits on the role of Cabinet and of the Prime minister in the context of a ruling and prevailing monarchy. Both the institutional and constitutional givens are that the King sets the strategic public policies76, through the jurisdictions given to him by the Constitution and through the infiltration of his jurisdictions into those of the Cabinet and the Parliament. The domain of the work of the Cabinet is summed up in participating alongside the King in the domain of public affairs. Constitutionally, the Cabinet lacks a means of influence and a real ability to exercise authority. It was not possible for the consensual “alternance” Cabinet, which secured the transition of the throne from Hassan II to Muhammad VI, to exceed the ceiling of change set by the monarchy.
92This experience poses many questions: what are the reflections of the political transformation of the USFP, from the opposition to working in the government, on the organizational and political line of the party? Did this experience enable the party to realize the paradoxes of moving from the opposition logic to the logic of participating in government work? What are the manifestations of these paradoxes?
93The participation of the USFP in government work within the framework of the “consensual alternance” Cabinet, which the party headed from 1998 to 2002, caused the party to face a severe crisis that struck its organizational structures and its political and intellectual choices. The manifestations of the crisis of the socialist union, because of its participation in government work, can be detected through many elements, some of which are: consecutive resignations of party leaders and consecutive divisions within the party, its receding results in the 2007 legislative elections, and the failure of the first round of the eighth convention of the party in 2008.
- 77 USFP, Documents of the sixth convention of the USFP, Casablanca, al-Maghribiyya publishing house, (...)
94The sixth convention of the USFP was held in 2001 within the context of the party heading the “consensual alternance” Cabinet. This occasion constituted an important organizational instance to evaluate the participation of the party in government work. The political report, presented by the First Secretary and Prime Minister, Abderrahman al-Youssoufi, on behalf of the political bureau, spoke of the importance of this participation in the history of the party, and in the process of the democratic transition in Morocco. The convention also asserted that the political track that led to the “alternance” was not free of obstacles77.
95There appeared within the convention opposition currents to the line of the party and its political choices concerning the participation in the Cabinet, and to its ideological choices, especially that the party clearly asserted the adoption of socialist democracy as a means to change, which means moving closer to liberalism. The most important of these currents is the union current, headed by the First Secretary of the Confederation for Labor, Noubir al-Amawi, who led a corrective movement within the party. The movement ended by severing with the party and establishing a political party under the name of the National Ittihadi Congress. A second current, “Loyalty to Democracy” had heavily criticized the participation in government work. Its leaders called, in a statement published before the convention, for the necessity of organizing the currents within the party. With the party ignoring this demand, they established the “Loyalty to Democracy” party, which was headed by Muhammad al-Sassi, a former leading member of the Unionist Youth.
- 78 A. al-Youssoufi, “the real questions for democratic transition, result and horizons of the democra (...)
- 79 A. al-Youssoufi, “the real questions for democratic transition, result and horizons of the democra (...)
96Disagreements among the components of the USFP deepened around the issue of participating in government work after the 2002 legislative elections, end of the mandate of the consensual Cabinet. The party won first place with fifty seats. It was expected of the King to nominate the Cabinet of Abderrahman al-Youssoufi, in order to continue the big projects it had launched. However, King Muhammad VI appointed a Prime Minister from outside the political parties. The political bureau asserted that this appointment constituted a departure from the democratic methodology, which requires the appointment of a prime minister from within the political parties, and from within the party that won the election. In the context of reading this appointment and the experience of the “consensual alternance” Cabinet, Abderrahman al-Youssoufi considered that the “alternance experience that Morocco knew in the last five years is nothing but a repetition of past experiences”78. The “alternance” did not transcend itself through the September 7th, 2002 elections, in the sense that the transition from consensual “alternance” to democratic “alternance” did not materialize79.
- 80 Previously, A. al-Youssoufi had presented his resignation from the leadership of the party in 1993 (...)
97The resignations of party leaders constituted another manifestation of the internal crisis of the USFP. The disagreements the party witnessed, due to not assigning a Prime Minister from the party after the 2002 legislative elections, led to the resignation of its First Secretary on October 27th, 200380. Despite efforts to present this resignation as a form of interference by the Ministry of the Interior in the elections, it nonetheless reflected a sign of struggle between the elites within the socialist party. The same struggle caused Muhammad al-Yazighi, the first secretary, to resign after the results of the 2007 elections. He was subject to many criticisms for the way he ran the party and for making decisions on his own. These criticisms reached the point of directly asking him to step down, and demanded that the political bureau form a collective leadership of the party.
98The USFP won thirty-eight seats in this legislative election, ranking fourth. This was a time to review the weight of the party and its status with voters. Thus, these results constituted an embodiment of the crisis of the party and one of its manifestations. The results deepened the struggle within the departments running the party, especially the political bureau, which managed the election process. Many readings tried to explain the receding electoral results of the party; regardless of the importance and the objectivity of these readings, these results are an indicator of the deep crisis within the party and its receding status. This crisis was consolidated by the acceptance of the party to participate in a Cabinet headed by the Istiqlâl party.
- 81 See the editorial of the USFP newspaper, al-Ittihâd al-ishtirakî, 12-6-2008.
- 82 See text of the statement to postpone the 8th convention, USFP, 17-6-2008.
99The eighth convention of the party, held from 13th to 15th of June 2008, under the slogan “a revived party for new Morocco”, could have been a moment of “self dialogue and search in the common identity”81 and a moment of “practicing self-criticism”. Nevertheless, this convention could not vote on anything besides the financial and conduct reports. Its work stopped when reaching the point of voting on the organizational decree. The convention was not able to finish its agenda, vote on its decrees or elect leadership. The leadership of the convention82 had to postpone the remaining tasks up to six months, during which the political bureau and the national council ran the party. The direct reasons for the failure of the USFP eighth conventions were the “obstruction of voting on the resolution adopting the list system”. This system is based on running for the position of First Secretary and membership of the political bureau on competing lists. As for the objective reasons for this failure, they are compounded with the organizational, ideological, political and other problems related to the leadership of the party overlapping. The failure of the first round of the eighth convention of the USFP manifested the depth of the crisis of this organization. This crisis will mortage its future while waiting for the second round. If the above-mentioned elements formed one of the manifestations of the crisis of the party, then how can we explain this crisis?
- 83 I refer here to the following documents in particular: the November 28, 2003 document issued by th (...)
- 84 I refer here to the following documents in particular: USFP, Open initiative for reconstructing th (...)
100Some departments of the party83 and some of its leaders issued documents trying to explain the reasons for the crisis the organization is going through84. The reading of these documents and the reading of the experience of the USFP, after its political transition into participating in the Cabinet, helps us explain the crisis of the socialist union, which is summarized in three points.
- 85 The November 28th, 2003 document asserted the following: “We lived in the shadow of historical lea (...)
- 86 See: M. al-Sassi, “the current internal democratic crisis of the socialist union-manifestations of (...)
- 87 The document of the proposed project about the identity of the 8th convention of the USFP asserted (...)
101The first point has to do with lack of internal democracy. Theoretically, the principal and internal rules of the USFP lay the foundation for a political party that is based on democratic principals such as separation between decision-making departments and managing departments, rotation of responsibility within the party, not combining many tasks, and respect for rotation of leadership positions. Nevertheless, on the practical level it is noted that the party knows a sort of despotism of some leaders in making decisions85 and lack of respect for separation among decision-making and managing departments, where the jurisdictions of the political bureau permeate the remaining departments86. The absence of internal democracy results in not accepting differences within the party. This leads to internal divisions87.
- 88 November 28th, 2003 document asserted that, “The rearrangement of the internal house can not be do (...)
- 89 The proposed report about the identity of the 8th convention of the USFP asserted the following: “ (...)
102The second point for explaining the crisis of the USFP is summed up in lack of theoretical analysis of the political transformations the party is witnessing. The USFP entered government work without a clear vision of the nature of this participation and of its limitations. Even ten years after entering government work, the experience remained without theoretical accompaniment and without the profound thought that facilitates the process of designing a new identity for the party88. Comparing documents of the conventions the party held after its engagement in government work with the revolutionary choice document and the ideological report helps us assert that the party is in need of deep theoretical analysis that goes along with its practices. This makes the identity paradox within the organization a deeper one89.
- 90 See: November 28th, 2003 document, issued by the political bureau of the party, Nawâfiz magazine, (...)
- 91 See: The proposed political and organizational resolution, the preparatory committee for the 8th c (...)
103The third point for explaining the crisis of the USFP goes back essentially to the betting by the party on the government and the marginalization of society. The November 23, 2003 document asserted that the “USFP was one of the few parties that infiltrated the Moroccan social fabric. Its organizations, reputation and symbols reached all over Morocco and entered every Moroccan household. However, in the last few years the party recorded a sort of recline in nourishing its ranks with new generations and energies”90. Similarly, the proposed political and organizational resolution for the eighth convention of the party asserted that the “concentration of the party on participating in parliamentary and governmental affairs, at the expense of continuous mass formation of citizens in the neighborhoods, labor sectors, popular organizations, associations and unions. This contributed to the party becoming like the other parties; it works on a seasonal basis, depending on circumstances and emergencies, especially mass representation and parliamentary occasions”91.
104Since its establishment, the USFP went through different phases that reflected on its ability to interact with its surroundings and with social variables. The party moved, during its first phase of establishment, from a brief instance of coexistence with the monarchy, to confrontation with it, which was marked by conflict and struggle about legitimacy. The party then moved, after its sixth founding convention, to the evolutionary phase, in which it worked on clarifying its ideological project and its democratic choice by agreeing to participate in representative institutions within the framework of constitutional legitimacy. Nevertheless, the principal political transition in the history of the party remains its move to participate in government work, alongside a monarchy it once tried to overthrow. Each of these phases reflected on the organizational and structural makeup of the party: the instance of confrontation produced a closed organization with multiple leaderships. The moment of participation in representative institutions produced an open organization, which enabled the party, at some point in its history, to increase its ability to form cadres and amass support. However, the instance of participation in government work reflected negatively on the organizational and structural makeup of the party. This in turn reflected on the status and role of the party within society. The cost to the party of participating in the exercise of power in its managerial limits in the course of an encompassing and ruling monarchy took its toll on the party.
105Analyzing the courses of transitions of this party constituent from one position to another helps us see the confined roles and limited function of political parties within a political system marked by the existence of a ruling, arbitrating and encompassing monarchy based on personalization and unification of authority and its inability to omit. We also conclude that the contribution of the party constituent and its role in the transition of the political system and accomplishing democracy depend on the availability of conditions for this transition. Some of these conditions are related to the political system as a whole and some others depend on the party constituent.
106Concerning the political system, the expected “transition towards democracy” depends on the existence of a democratic Constitution based on institutionalism of authority, instead of personalizing it, its allocation instead of its centralization and its rotation instead of monopolizing it. There can be no democracy without a democratic Constitution based on the separation of authorities and on mechanisms for power transfer and rotation in its exercise, and on expanding the sphere of rights and freedoms. As for the level of party constituent, the contribution of the political party in the course of transition towards democracy depends on the necessity of the internal evolution of this component and the necessity of holding its organizational and cadre formation structures accountable and subjecting them to democratic standards and their mechanisms. The contribution to the transformation of the system and demanding democracy starts by achieving this transformation within the party organization itself. No party constituents that do not function according to the logic of democracy on the internal level can contribute to building democracy.
107The USFP leaders tried - for the first time in their history - to hold their last convention, the eighth convention in July 2008, in a democratic way through which the principal of the sovereignty of the convention could be respected. The convention was held without prior agreements on the person of the leader, the members of the divisions that run the party and on the future political orientation of the party, but it failed to make of the eighth convention an instant of democratic transition at the level of the highest of its deciding cadres.