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Returning to Political Parties?

“Businessmen” versus “Professors”: The parliamentary “notabilisation” of a party of militants in Morocco

Mounia Bennani-Chraïbi

Note de l’auteur

This chapter was originally published in French as “‘Hommes d’affaires’ versus ‘profs de fac’. La notabilisation parlementaire d’un parti de militants au Maroc”, in Revue internationale de politique comparée (vol 15, n° 2, 2008, p 205-219). It is dedicated to the memory of Remy Leveau. I wish to thank Abdelaziz Bennani, Raymond Benhaïm, Jean-Noël Ferrié and Olivier Fillieule for their careful reading of the first version of this text, which provided us with a new opportunity for stimulating exchanges. I also extend my thanks to those political figures and elected officials who were willing to take part in a sociological interview.

Texte intégral

1Parliamentary “representation” is both a “staged performance” and an attempt at institutionalizing compromises amidst quite fragile social and political equilibriums. To examine the role of legislative elections in the recruitment of political elites, the sociographic method of analyzing the composition of parliament has shown itself to be particularly illuminating.

  • 1   I conducted field surveys, particularly during the legislative elections in 2002 and 2007, in Cas (...)

2Going beyond the publicly displayed issues both large and small, beyond all electoral bookkeeping and without overly dwelling on the ups and downs of the administrative interventions, this text is a contribution to the observation of the process of diversification and “notabilisation” of a significant proportion of the representatives of the nation in the context of the consolidation of monarchical power in Morocco. In particular, this paper analyzes the variations in the socio-political divisions and alliances linked to the codification of new norms in the principal pathways to the very highest echelons of the official political establishment.1

3After a review of developments in parliamentary recruitment since independence, I will look at one of the highlights of the legislative elections of September 2007: not the surprising absence of an Islamist tidal wave, but the change, along with its electoral decline, in the composition of the elected representatives of the main organization of the left, specifically its transformation - at the electoral level – from a party of “militants” into a party of “notables”.

The Production of Parliamentary Elites: from Polarization to Fragmentation

  • 2   Families associated with the traditional state administration of Morocco (translator’s Note).

4A strong continuity seems to permeate the history of political recruitment in Morocco. Before the advent of the Protectorate in 1912, tribal leaders dominated the countryside while the ruling elite in the cities belonged to bourgeois Andalusian families (Fez, Tétouan, Meknès, Salé), active in trading and crafts, makhzenian2 families of recent vintage, dependents of the Royal House, and chorfa, descendants of the prophet, who arbitrated disputes in relation to their social prestige. During the Protectorate, French schools ensured the renewal of urban elites, while the army was the chosen career for rural elites. The leadership of the National Movement was drawn mainly from the urban bourgeoisie (Marais, 1964).

5Allies in the nationalist struggle, the monarchy and the National Movement became rivals after independence in 1956. Fearful of the hegemonic goals of the nationalists, the demands of the urban elites and proletarian upheavals, the monarchy established a multi-party system and reversed its alliances: rural notables were promoted as “defenders of the throne” (Leveau, 1985). In this context, the Parliament is thought of less as a locus of power than as an instrument of control of the political class and restraint of potential competitors. However, variations over time in its composition are not due to monarchical strategies alone.

6The electoral analysis conducted by Rémy Leveau during the 1960s identified “solid blocks of opposing tendencies” (Chambergeat, 1961) reflecting divisions that were geographic, social and cultural. Based in the old cities and great agricultural plains of the North, the Istiqlâl, founded in 1944, appeared as the party of the “old bourgeois guard” which was nationalist, urban and drawn from the merchant class. The National Union of Popular Forces (UNFP), born in a 1959 split in the Istiqlâl, emerged as a “group of the petty bourgeoisie and the middle classes”, younger, more modest, consisting of many intellectuals with a modern education (lawyers, teachers, students), more or less to the left. Its electoral base was in big industrialized cities and the countryside of southern Morocco (due to the influence of the Liberation Army, whose members remained close to the UNFP) (Leveau, 1985; Waterbury, 1970). Crystallized in the competition between the monarchy and the National Movement (UNFP and Istiqlâl), the main political dividing line of the 1960s was that between the urban zone and a rural world, led by local elected or administrative elites (Marais, 1972), made up of land owners, sensitive to the status of the land. Conversely, the cities, which made up only 20% of the population, appeared more open to speeches of the opposition shaped by the National Movement. What happened to this pattern marked by the confrontation between rural notables, “defenders of the throne,” and the heirs of the urban National Movement in the wake of half a century of accelerated changes (a rejuvenated population and an urban majority, etc.)?

7A process of fragmentation put an end to the polarization of the sixties. Following the attempted coups d’état in the early 1970s, the building up of the Sahara case into a national priority gave the monarchy the opportunity to begin stabilizing the regime, to reformulate a pact, and to try to broaden its social base beyond the rural world. After having opposed an alliance between the landed aristocracy and the urban elites, the monarchy began to break up the hegemony of the nationalists and the left in the cities, using both the carrot and the stick. In 1973, it made possible the rapid enrichment of a part of the bourgeoisie, through the policies of Morocanization and easy access to bank loans. Meanwhile, it began a program of recruitment of “urban executives”.

  • 3   Born in a 1975 split in the UNFP between the Rabat wing, formed by party leaders, intellectuals a (...)
  • 4   The most recent name of the Moroccan Communist Party established in 1943.

8This new dynamic inevitably influenced the pathways of production of new parliamentarians. The particularly young Assembly elected in 1977 (75% of those elected were between 25 and 44 years old) expressed an opening to the middle classes, to executives and civil servants. While rural areas remained a privileged source of recruitment, the urban dimension was reinforced (Sehimi, 1979, p. 98). While farmers were important in the Istiqlâl and the MP, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP)3 and the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS)4 continued to appear as parties of teachers. The “Independents” continued to be characterized by their diversification. This category promoted and supported by the Administration, named candidates who were not nominated by parties (Santucci, 1979, p. 221). In 1978 most of this category joined the National Rally of Independents (RNI), founded by Ahmed Osman, former Prime Minister and brother-in-law of Hassan II.

9This trend was reinforced in 1984, in the wake of the first social effects of the Structural Adjustment Program. Support for the birth of the Constitutional Union (UC) in 1983 by the Administration was the main novelty of this election. Nicknamed the “pressure cooker”, the party borrowed along with the name of this cooking utensil the idea of accelerated “cooking” because the party had just barely been born when it had already won the elections. Its aim was to conquer the “post-Independence generation,” to mobilize young people, civil servants, executives and professionals, who remained outside of the political game (Sehimi, 1985, p. 44).

10The Parliament elected in 1993 reflected a change in the general course of events at the expense of the Administration and farmers. It “no longer aimed primarily at regulating traditional elites: it became a place for co-opting urban and urbanized elites, recruited mainly from the modern professions” (Parejo, 2002, p. 144).

  • 5   According to Hassan II in his 1996 speech presenting the results of the World Bank.
  • 6   Name given in 1998 to the People's Constitutional Democratic Movement (MPCD) - led since 1967 by (...)
  • 7   Coalition of the USFP, Istiqlal and the PPS in 1992.

11A fundamental shift occurred in the late 1990s, following the “alliance” between the monarchy and the heirs of the National Movement. While drawing their force from their history in the struggle for independence and the democratic transition, the main justification of the alliance was to register “the gravity of the situation”. Explicitly, Morocco was “on the verge of a heart attack.”5 Implicitly, the end of the reign of Hassan II was imminent, and a particular concern was aroused by the continued strengthening of an Islamic counter-elite, recruited from the middle and lower classes in the large cities. In Parliament, the Justice and Development Party (PJD)6 made a “targeted” breakthrough and replaced the left in the opposition. Faced with the gradual loss of its popular social base, having ceased to be an alternative, the USFP opted for “alternating governmental power by mutual consent”, under the Koutla.7 Also outlined was the silent hope – soon to be disappointed - that the alliance with the monarchy and the accession of the leftist party to government would enable the party leadership to regain control over a divided organization.

12The faces of the new MPs elected since the 1997 election, an election marked by the introduction of a bicameral parliament, exemplified the formation of an expanded front around the monarchy. The number of entrepreneurs elected to the House of Representatives by direct suffrage mushroomed in the elections of 1997, a trend which continued in 2002 (Catusse, 2004, p. 58). From this point on, two channels of recruiting MPs were dominant: first, teachers, reinforced by the very sharp rise in those elected from the PJD (42 seats in 2002) and, secondly, those under the statistical headings of “merchants”, “industrialists”, “businessmen”,“company directors” and “entrepreneurs”.

  • 8   This graph should be read with caution. It was established on the basis of the chart in M. Bennan (...)

Graph n°1: Pathways of Recruitment to the Moroccan Parliament between 1977 and 20028

Graph n°1: Pathways of Recruitment to the Moroccan Parliament between 1977 and 20028
The socio-professional breeding grounds for the liberal professions, education, and civil service which in a democracy such as France predispose to entry in politics9 are rivaled in Morocco, if only at the parliamentary level, by others such as “farmers” and “entrepreneurs”. But this can be clearly seen only by crossing these categories with the types of recruitment pathways, including militancy and “notability” that are constantly being redefined in the recent history of the kingdom.10 These are first linked to the social, economic and cultural transformations at work in society and can then be connected to the changing identities, social bases and strategies of the political parties themselves.
  • 11   The left was also represented by the PPS and the Organization for Democratic and Popular Action ( (...)

13To address these phenomena, I will deal here particularly with the case of the USFP, interesting for several reasons. Having been the symbol of opposition11 in Parliament for several decades, it became a governmental party. Main loser in the 2007 legislative elections, it went from 1st to 5th place. In addition, it has been violently shaken by crises and repeated divisions. Since its birth, the left wing of the National Movement has split into eight parties, four of which were born after the 1998 establishment of a system of “alternating governmental power” under the auspices of the USFP. This means that the transition from oppositional to governmental party had not been assimilated. The party lost the support of “its” union, but also much of its youth as well as some of its intellectual figures. These changes have had an effect on the physiognomy of its electoral group in the House of Representatives in 2007.

The New Profile of USFP Deputies in the Light of the Party’s Transformation

14From 2002 to 2007, the USFP group elected to the House of Representatives declined from 50 to 38 members while developing a new profile. Competition between the two main socio-economic pathways of recruitment to the Parliament as a whole now takes place within the same movement: USFP teachers11 have for the first time been surpassed by newcomers: the “businessmen”!14 How can we interpret this change and the electoral sanction inflicted on the party? Are they connected in one way or another?

  • 12   This chart is based on data available on the Parliament website (for 2002) and that of the USFP ( (...)

Graph n°2: Socio-professional careers of USFP elected officials between 2002 and 2007 12

Graph n°2: Socio-professional careers of USFP elected officials between 2002 and 2007 12
Various hypotheses could be developed concerning the electoral defeat of the USFP, which also resulted in the non-reelection of some government ministers as well as of several members of the political bureau including the former chairman of the group. In the more or less long term, the electoral sanction suffered by the party could be considered as the result of the transformation process changing the party’s identity,13 the widening gap between a heterogeneous militant base and its leadership bodies, themselves divided: joining the government may have “thawed out” internal contradictions whose rise to the surface was relatively slow as long as the organization was in the opposition. On another level, even USFP members evoke the “compromises” of the left organization, its silence, its support for widespread repression, the break with its traditional social base, the race for ministerial portfolios, etc. Those disenchanted with the party also question its functioning and the absence of internal democracy. The method of governing the party based on its “historic leadership” became obsolete during this phase of the liberalization of its politics. Finally, the method of managing the 2007 election campaign may also have helped amplify the discontent.14

15After having suffered these losses, the party launched a “political opening” in order to strengthen its ranks. First, the recruitment philosophy was fundamentally changed. During the period more or less marked by conflict with the monarchy, the USFP functioned as a “closed” party of militants with limited recruitment through a system of checks and sponsorship for membership for fear of police infiltration. The public demonstration of reconciliation with the monarchy and the consequences of the period spent in the government led the leadership to change these recruitment norms and to open the doors to applications for membership, including those of defectors from parties accused in the recent past of having been created by the Administration. Then, on the eve of elections in 2007, new criteria for selecting candidates for the legislative elections were codified: with few exceptions militant capital gave way to individual capital, i.e. the personal capacity to mobilize support and win votes beyond the party limits. Thus, local notables were solicited by influential members of the political bureau.

  • 15   On the characteristics of electoral mobilization in the Sahara see V. Veguilla (2004).
  • 16   The term coined by C. Tilly (1978) is well suited to this scenario, at the junction between a cat (...)

16Crossing the profiles of the USFP representatives elected in 2007 with their degree of “seniority” in the party helps clarify these points. More than one third of the group consisted of new recruits. “Businessmen”, the overwhelming majority, were to win districts for the USFP which so far had escaped party control, especially in the Sahara: Laayoune, Oued Eddeheb, Boujdour, Ouerzazate, Zagora, Asilal Demnat, Nador. These elected officials were drawn from two distinctive but complementary groups: prominent positions as notables in their community or tribal group thus opening the possibility of employing strategies involving group identities and even a degree of social control;15 possession of economic capital that gave them an active reputation, vital to the development of client relationships. Amongst these elected officials was the prominent figure of Hassan Derhem, 54, president of a municipal council, formerly a parliamentary figure from the RNI, Laâyoune “notable” from a large Saharan tribe, and the head of a large commercial trading and industrial firm (frozen cephalopods, distribution of petroleum products, etc.) It is worth recalling that in the Sahara, the fishing sector is a central economic activity creating wealth and jobs. In addition to foreign interests, the beneficiaries of this windfall are mostly the senior military officers and, more generally, those who are close to the Royal Palace. In other words, it is a fundamental part of the clientelist system set up in the Sahara by the monarchy. By recruiting a person such as H. Derhem the USFP began to be a part of a network from which it had been excluded for a long time. Not only did it have access to a businessmen’s “catnet”,16 but also to its “expertise” in judging the potential for mobilizing support for a local actor. Indeed, it is through him that people having the same profile were invited to be candidates under the USFP banner.

  • 17   To ensure a better representation of women in the House of Representatives and to limit male domi (...)
  • 18   The drawing up of this list provoked a crisis, after which four “poorly ranked” members of the po (...)
  • 19   The PSD came from a split in the OADP. In 2005 it merged with the USFP.
  • 20   She resigned her position as incompatible with that of CEO.

17The women USFP officials elected on its national list17 are also new faces in other ways. They deserve special attention to the degree they have become deputies “automatically”, not without having created a deep uneasiness within the party.18 Indeed, the creation of a quota of women had two main consequences. First, it fuelled the competition between women activists of each political party for a position of eligible rank on the national party list. Because, according to the party’s overall vote and the arrangement of the list, candidates could be assured of winning a seat, regardless of the effort they had made personally during the campaign. Secondly, such a reform strengthened the grip of the party apparatus on the selection process, having even more decisive influence than for local candidates. Therefore, the criteria for drawing up the list are indicative of the strategies adopted: militancy or “family ties” and clientelism? Seniority and political experience or “novelty” and “opening” to other sectors of society in order to facilitate generational renewal, regional balance and opportune alliances? In the case of the USFP, it is the “opening” that prevailed. Of the five women elected on the national list, there are one woman who was an activist in the Democratic Socialist Party (Parti socialiste démocratique)19 (S. Saadi, 65), two candidates with “entrepreneurial” and/or “technocratic” profiles (S. Karkri-Belkeziz, 46, entrepreneur, founding president of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Morocco; N. Lahrichi,20 60, university professor, adviser to the Prime Minister until 2005, CEO of the Moroccan Society of Export Insurance); a candidate with a regional and “notable” profile (F. Boussole, 40, belonging to the family network of Saharan notable H. Derhem) and finally an example of generational renewal (A. Guellaa, 33, lawyer, USFP activist since her years at the university).

  • 21   If M. Lyazghi had run, he would have had to deal with leaders of parties that had split from the (...)

18Latefa Jbabdi is one of the four women to have been elected at the local constituency level, the only one under the banner of the USFP. Aged 53, a teacher, she is best known for her feminist struggles with the Union for Women’s Action of which she was one of the founders in 1987, for her decisive participation in the mobilization between 1992 and 1993 for a “million signatures” in favor of reforming the personal status code, and more recently for the introduction of a quota promoting women’s representation in Parliament. With multiple affiliations, most of her career as a political militant has been outside of the USFP. Indeed, she personifies one of the typical pathways of the conversion of a Moroccan Marxist-Leninist militant of the 1970s, having been successively active in the Party of Liberation and Socialism (former Communist Party), the March 23 Movement, the OADP, then the PSD, before its recent merger with the USFP. More importantly, she represents one of the female Moroccan figures who has suffered the most from the repression and torture. Despite being strongly solicited to appear on the national list, Latefa Jbabdi refused to take part in what, in her view, had degenerated into an organized competition between women. It is in the light of this rich capital of feminist militancy, which was in no way due to the activities of the USFP, and a sign of the opening vis-à-vis the former members of the PSD, that M. Lyazghi, then First Secretary of the USFP, might have given up “his” constituency, (in fact, until 2002 the electoral stronghold of Fathallah Oualalou, USFP Finance Minister from 1998 to 2007) better known as that of Mehdi Ben Barka in 1963: Rabat-Océan. While at first sight this might have been seen as a “reward” for militancy, on the eve of the election it looked more like a poisoned apple. The personal role which Latéfa Jbabdi represented would in reality help the USFP to keep control of the symbolic district in an election which was particularly disputed, at least on the left,21 and dubbed by the press “constituency of death”. Victory was won by a mobilization ensured by activists and supporters of the UAF and from the hard core of the PSD. In addition to the party, the campaign was funded in Rabat-Océan through the contributions of activists and through subscription campaigns. Note, finally, it was not necessary to recruit and pay for outside electoral workers, which had ceased to be the rule in the USFP.

  • 22   Again, it would be interesting to compare the change in voting patterns from one election to anot (...)
  • 23   This formula has been borrowed from C. Goirand (2000). See also in this regard L. Zaki (2004).
  • 24   Note that the reform of 1976 which established the municipality as a place of power launched a sy (...)
  • 25   On the adaptability of patronage, see J. L. Briquet and F. Sawicki (1998).

19Two main profiles stand out among the long-standing USFP members. First, a little less than one third of the group (12 deputies) who had been candidates in “their” circumscription, survived from the previous session of the House of Representatives. Abdelawahad Radi is the prototype: a university professor aged 73, member of the House from Beni Hssen Kénitra since 1963, he chaired the House of Representatives from 1997 to 2007, and became Minister of Justice in 2007.22 Secondly, some activists are characterized by a local base measurable by their municipal mandates (presidency of town or regional councils, etc.) and/or by their networks of support among local elected officials. All of these deputies “took care” of their base during their mandate: “they did their work,” which means “they solved the people’s individual and collective problems,” “they defended their community” (interview with a re-elected deputy, April 2008). Thus they gave preference to the “politics of action.”23 Therefore, possession of a local mandate or a close connection with local elected officials became essential.24 In return for mobilizing support among their clients, the municipal presidents expected that the representatives of the nation would assist them during their mandate: resolving problems such as those linked to infrastructure; a mediation role not only in the political capital, but also with the governor; an active presence during their own election campaign. To summarize, with few exceptions, the success of these deputies seemed to record their adjustment to the socio-political changes in the country, to changes in the party and, most importantly, to the functioning of the Moroccan electoral system and to the remodeling of clientalist relations25 in a competitive direction, giving increasing importance to individual or collective interests of “clients”.

Notability and Activism: Changing Categories

  • 26   This hypothesis has been raised by M. Tozy (2008, p. 40).

20What lessons emerge from going through an analysis of the profiles of those elected on the left? Except for deputies on the national list, those who were elected under the banner of the USFP owed little or nothing to the reputation of the party: in the electoral arena, the party has tended to become a “party of notables.”26

  • 27   Usually, we tend to believe that parties of militants offset the absence of their own social reso (...)
  • 28   We should not forget that elections have been held under the supervision of an openly interventio (...)
  • 29   According to D.L. Seiler (1993), the political parties translate and consolidate basic social cle (...)
  • 30   In the context of the 2007 election campaign, a USFP deputy organized focus groups and through th (...)

21Beyond a simple opposition between a “party of militants”27 and a “party of notables”, implying different resources and ways of going to the people, a most important distinction appears, namely the degree of candidates’ dependence on partisan capital: “The meeting of collective partisan capital and individual social capital produces (...) three types of relations - always changing - in which politicians either owe their resources to their party, or are relatively independent of the party, or thanks to the party were able to accumulate their own capital with which they were able to create their own autonomy”(idem, p. 48). In the recent past, the USFP “label” could be an asset to “unknown” candidates - rewarded for their activism and who owed almost everything to the party - in constituencies considered being dominated by the USFP28: the voters voted for the party and not for the person by loyalty to a political identity, to its symbols, to its social activity, etc. The candidate then took up the whole repertory of party values (justice, integrity), of some of the founding struggles of the party, of the presentation of the “popular forces” in the party’s popular oratory. After joining the government, the USFP’s candidates could no longer effectively use the record of “past conflicts”29 which they have used for a long time: those who are elected under the party label now owe their election either to their individual social capital or to their specific stature as a militant or to their own capital which they have personally acquired. In the latter case, the party label might even become a handicap.30 This suggests that the leadership’s new emphasis in the selection of candidates on the “personal capacity to win a district” would be an attempt to adjust to the devaluation of the partisan capital in favor of the USFP, a record of the dissolution of its electorate of “granite” of the past.

  • 31   On the monarchy’s efforts to renew the recruitment of elites, see Tozy, M. (2008). According to t (...)
  • 32   On this point see L. Zaki (2009) on the campaigns of the Daba 2007 association, founded by an act (...)

22At a second level, the rise in the number of entrepreneurs in Parliament not only reflects the monarchy’s efforts to see the development of competency amongst the elected officials,31 which would then be transmitted by a component of civil society32 as well as by those parties trying to adapt to this model by choosing candidates based on their technocratic profile. Certainly, in the 1990s, we saw two parallel dynamics interact. On the one hand, the employers were strengthened in the public arena during the “clean-up campaign” of 1996 (Hibou, 1996; Catusse, 1998) On the other hand, “an ‘epic narrative’ in various versions was forged with its heroes and anti-heroes, amongst whom the ‘entrepreneurs’ and more recently and to a lesser extent the ‘technocrats’ and ‘city managers’ could act as symbolic figureheads” (Catusse, 2000).

  • 33  For a comprehensive analysis of the phenomenon, see M. Catusse (2006).

23But on the parliamentary level, the elected “entrepreneurs” do not represent a homogeneous social and political category, which would represent a sort of bourgeois opposition or even a center of “technocratic” competency. Their dominating role in the House reveals, first, the overwhelming weight of clientelist mobilizations in the Moroccan electoral marketplace, already strengthened by the “notabilisation” of the main leftist party. In addition, their profiles reveal the disconnection between attempts to codify a new level of political excellence (“economization of politics” through an “officially sanctioned language”33) and modes of operation of the Moroccan electoral marketplace (“commercialization of political activity”). While economic “competency” may be “recognized” in high places and thus be politically co-opted, they are not in themselves convertible into electoral capital.

24Third lesson: paradoxically, the PJD is the successor to the USFP at several levels. It is the forum for the opposition, and represents values (righteousness, integrity, etc.) which in the past were attributed to the left. Its proposals in collective indivisible and abstract goods (program, model of society) appear credible in the eyes of many voters. Therefore, it is now the only party in Morocco to be able to elect unknown candidates thanks to its party name, its activist resources, and more generally to its collective partisan capital. In addition, the profile of PJD elected officials is very similar to that of USFP deputies of the past: teachers (18 out of 46) and lawyers. Moreover, while the teaching sector continues to flourish in Parliament - even though it is declining on the left which was previously its natural soil – this is due to the electoral progress of the PJD. It is therefore no coincidence that the party has also “inherited” many constituencies in major cities which were once held by the USFP, rallying supporters mostly drawn from the more popular social categories (Casablanca, Rabat, Salé, Fez, etc.). While the USFP is undergoing a process of “notabilisation”, one form of activism has chased another – and on its own territories.

To conclude, a nod to Rémy Leveau and Barrington Moore (1983)

  • 34   At least those whose parties have left the forum of the opposition.

25In the late 1960s, the American neo-Marxist sociologist Barrington Moore identified three major avenues of modernization on the basis of comparative analysis of the history of France, England, the United States, Germany, Japan, China and Russia. According to him, there are three decisive factors among those contributing to democratization: a weakened monarchy, a fragile landed aristocracy and the absence of an alliance between aristocracy and bourgeoisie against the “workers”. In the mid-1970s, Rémy Leveau was inspired by this approach in his Fellah marocain défenseur du trône (“The Moroccan Fellah: defender of the throne”). According to his thesis, the alliance between the rural elites and the monarchy has led Morocco into the path of “conservative modernization.” Ten years after the promise of democratization in Morocco, the House of Representatives appears to be more than ever one of the stages of consolidation of monarchical power. Following the path of the rural population and civil servants, the entrepreneurs and even some of the teachers34 are becoming the new “defenders of the throne.”

  • 35   This formulation is borrowed from L. Anderson (2000).
  • 36   See especially the “co-optation” by the Palace of association activists from the far left.

26The purpose is not to be continually fascinated by a monarchy which is an “expert at survival”,35 able to handle carrot and stick with “subtlety”, and which finally co-opts those who at one time or another in its history, had barred its way both at the level of political organizations (the left, personalities from the far left and even from “civil society”36) as well as in sociological terms (the rural population, urban elites, a part of the intellectuals and middle layers). For my part, I’ve tried to show the interconnections of two dimensions: the metamorphosis at the electoral level of a party of militants to a one of notables; the coalescence of a front around the monarchy linked to the transformation of the left and with a common fear of the new “dangerous classes”, symbolized by the specter of Islamism. In the terminology of Barrington Moore, we could conclude that the kingdom is more than ever committed to the road of “modernization from above”. It would be based on a broad alliance between a reinvigorated monarchy, a landed aristocracy which has been reduced in size since the 1960s, a heteroclite urban bourgeoisie, reconstituted socially and politically, replacing the rural population in the role of stabilizing the regime. On the other hand, on the electoral scene, would have arisen Islamic urban counter-elites.

  • 37   The “cens” was the taxation quota which marked the limit of suffrage rights in France and was abo (...)

27Adjusting the focus helps clarify the question. Behind the entrepreneurial, technocratic rhetoric focusing on “competency” or even “civil society” and the accompanying transformation of the bourgeoisie, are a new “hidden cens37” (Gaxie, 1978) reflecting resistance to real “universal suffrage.” These attempts to codify the restrictive thresholds of access to political institutions aim at preserving the hegemony of elites whose fates have become more or less united with that of the monarchy: not quite domesticated nor fully partners, their relations with the monarchy, while diverse, are based on a compromise made of tensions and temptations to broaden their scope of action.

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Notes

1   I conducted field surveys, particularly during the legislative elections in 2002 and 2007, in Casablanca, Rabat and the north of Morocco. Interviews were held with elected representatives of the USFP during the Spring of 2008.

2   Families associated with the traditional state administration of Morocco (translator’s Note).

3   Born in a 1975 split in the UNFP between the Rabat wing, formed by party leaders, intellectuals and the party youth, and the Casablanca wing, which was dominated by trade unionists.

4   The most recent name of the Moroccan Communist Party established in 1943.

5   According to Hassan II in his 1996 speech presenting the results of the World Bank.

6   Name given in 1998 to the People's Constitutional Democratic Movement (MPCD) - led since 1967 by Dr. Khatib, close to the monarchy - after they were joined by members of the MUR (Mouvement unicité et réforme).

7   Coalition of the USFP, Istiqlal and the PPS in 1992.

8   This graph should be read with caution. It was established on the basis of the chart in M. Bennani Chraïbi (2004, p. 27). First, sources for the data presented in percentages are varied: for the elections of 1977 and 1984, see A. Claisse (1984, p. 665); for 1993 and 1997, see M. Catusse (2000, p. 60); for 2002, data were supplied by the Ministry of Communication. At the time this text was written, the figures for 2007 were not available. Second, there is a fundamental bias due to the fact that the figures for 1977, 1984, and 1993 refer to a single chambered parliament (of which one third was named in indirect elections). For 1997 and 2002, I chose to retain only the data concerning the House of Representatives, elected by direct vote since the introduction of bicameralism in 1996. Finally, it is important to emphasize that the category under the label “entrepreneurs” did not appear in the various data under the same designation: in 1977 and 1984, it referred to “merchants” and “industrialists”; since 1993, the category “industrialist” has disappeared; in 2002, those of “businessmen” and “company directors” have entered the ministry sources. This means that this graph only draws trends in a rather imperfect way.

9   See among others: S. Leveque (1996) and M. Offerle (1999).

10   On these mutations, see M. Bennani Chraïbi (2002).

11   The left was also represented by the PPS and the Organization for Democratic and Popular Action (OADP - Organization pour l’action démocratique et populaire). Founded in 1983, the OADP has its roots in the wing of the Marxist-Leninist movement of the 1970s which in part came from the UNFP. It was the hard core of the consolidation of several small organizations of the new left, under the label of the United Socialist Left in 2002, later, in 2005, the United Socialist Party (PSU – Parti socialiste unifié).

12   This chart is based on data available on the Parliament website (for 2002) and that of the USFP (for 2007), which I have converted into percentages. For ease of readability, I created a “modern professions” category grouping together lawyers, engineers, journalists and doctors.

13   The entry in the government was far from having been as costly to the Istiqlal, first in the number of deputies, second in number of votes by which it trailed the PJD. It had often participated in the government prior to 1998. Moreover, since the split of 1959, it has been seen as a party of notables and its “social base” has not fundamentally changed.

14   Among the many points of contention were the “political opening” that marked the selection of candidates, but also highly criticized candidacies of the son and the chief of staff of the party’s First Secretary.

15   On the characteristics of electoral mobilization in the Sahara see V. Veguilla (2004).

16   The term coined by C. Tilly (1978) is well suited to this scenario, at the junction between a category and a network.

17   To ensure a better representation of women in the House of Representatives and to limit male domination, both within society as well as in partisan bodies, a national list was designed in 2002, following advocacy work by the women's movement. Some 295 members were elected from 95 local constituencies, 30 (in practice women candidates) at the level of a national constituency. On a single ballot, voters were asked to indicate two choices: the first on the list of candidates at the local constituency (local list), the second relating to the candidates list at the national constituency level (national list).

18   The drawing up of this list provoked a crisis, after which four “poorly ranked” members of the political bureau withdrew in protest.

19   The PSD came from a split in the OADP. In 2005 it merged with the USFP.

20   She resigned her position as incompatible with that of CEO.

21   If M. Lyazghi had run, he would have had to deal with leaders of parties that had split from the USFP: the Socialist Vanguard Party, founded in 1983 and the PSU. Other leaders of the Istiqlal, the RNI and the PJD were also included among the other candidates.

22   Again, it would be interesting to compare the change in voting patterns from one election to another.

23   This formula has been borrowed from C. Goirand (2000). See also in this regard L. Zaki (2004).

24   Note that the reform of 1976 which established the municipality as a place of power launched a system of municipal patronage.

25   On the adaptability of patronage, see J. L. Briquet and F. Sawicki (1998).

26   This hypothesis has been raised by M. Tozy (2008, p. 40).

27   Usually, we tend to believe that parties of militants offset the absence of their own social resources by providing “partisan collective capital”: acronyms, a political label, emblems, etc. See in this regard M. Offerlé (2002, p. 45 et ss).

28   We should not forget that elections have been held under the supervision of an openly interventionist government until the mid 1990s.

29   According to D.L. Seiler (1993), the political parties translate and consolidate basic social cleavages and thus are “witnesses of past conflicts.”

30   In the context of the 2007 election campaign, a USFP deputy organized focus groups and through them had seen that the party label had hurt him amongst the executives and professionals. From then on he relied more on his personal balance sheet and achievements as an incumbent deputy (interview, April 2008).

31   On the monarchy’s efforts to renew the recruitment of elites, see Tozy, M. (2008). According to the author, the appointment of technocrats by the Palace was an attempt to compensate for the weak competency levels of elected officials.

32   On this point see L. Zaki (2009) on the campaigns of the Daba 2007 association, founded by an active member of the Moroccan civil society, also close to the royal circle.

33  For a comprehensive analysis of the phenomenon, see M. Catusse (2006).

34   At least those whose parties have left the forum of the opposition.

35   This formulation is borrowed from L. Anderson (2000).

36   See especially the “co-optation” by the Palace of association activists from the far left.

37   The “cens” was the taxation quota which marked the limit of suffrage rights in France and was abolished in 1848-[Translator’s Note]

Table des illustrations

Titre Graph n°1: Pathways of Recruitment to the Moroccan Parliament between 1977 and 20028
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/1097/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 301k
Titre Graph n°2: Socio-professional careers of USFP elected officials between 2002 and 2007 12
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/1097/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 261k

Auteur

Mounia Bennani-Chraïbi

Dr M. Bennani-Chraïbi, political scientist, is associate professor at Institute of Political and International Studies (IEPI), Lausanne.

© Presses de l’Ifpo, 2010

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