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HassanIIMohammadV

HassanIIMohammadV

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Published by Carly Sutherland

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Published by: Carly Sutherland on Dec 14, 2008
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.7
I
FromHasanl oMuhammad l
PlusaChange?
DANIEL ZISENWINE
The smooth accessionofMorocco's King Muhammad VI to the throne inluly1999, ollowingthe death ofhis father, Hasan II, was grounded in theprotocols and customs of the Moroccan monarchy. These raditionalritesofpassageacilitated the transition ofpower inthekingdom, alleviatingprevi-ous concerns that it would be marked by instability anduncertainty, leadingeven o themonarchy'scollapse.Withinhoursofhis father'sdeath,Muham-mad somberly announced thenews in a nationally televised addressandassumedhisofficialresponsibilities and duties as Morocco's new king.Helater received the traditional oath of allegiance(bay'a)from the kingdom'sreligious leadership,whichrecognized hispositionas the"Commanderofthe Faithful"(amiral-mu'minin), the spiritualand political leader of Mo-roccan'sMuslims.The new king's first task was to meet with world leaders who traveledtoRabatinorder toparticipate inthelate King Hasan's uneral. Apart fromthe ceremonial aspects, he new king's discussions ocused on issueshaloccupied aprominent placeonMorocco's diplomaticagenda,such as thefuture of the western Sahara andits relationswithneighboring Algeria.Ilwasevidentthat a new era in Morocco's history had begun. Even as thekingdom mourned King Hasan's death, thepublicby andlargeoptimisti-cally embraced the country's new leader.lKing Muhammad was well aware of the high expectations thataccom-paniedhisriseto the throne both athomeand abroad.Many Moroccarrshad known nootherleaderthan thelate King Hasan, whose reign extendedoverthirty-eight years.zTheynow pinned their hopesonthe new yountlmonarch. His numerous statements nd interviewsascrownprinceseernetlto indicatehathe wouldpromoteapoliticalagendacenterecln strengllreningdemocracy ndpluralism.Theyalsohopecl hrrl tc wottkltggrcssivcly
From asanI toMuhammadI /133confront he country's hroniceconomic roblemsandamelioratehe ivingconditionsof millions ofpoverty-strickenMoroccansseehe chapterbyPaulRivlin in this volume). Accompanyingheir hopeswere expectationsthat the new king would introducea more open styleof leadership, ppro-priate forthe twenty-first century,anddiscard he monarchy's raditionalopacityand secrecy.ndeed, he new king's nitialactionssuggestedhat hewas ntentonpursuingucha course,eadingomeMoroccansoproclaimthat their country wason the thresholdof sweeping hanges.3During hisfirst months on the throne, Muhammad epeatedlyeclaredhis ntentto transformMorocco'soliticalsystem nd ranscend raditionaland structuralbarriershat hinderedhe move oward greaterdemocracy.Over ime, he even nstigatedan unprecedented xaminationof the anndesdeplomb(lit."yearsof lead"), he nitialdecades f Hasan'seign character-izedby the harshrepression fpoliticaldissidents.Butdespitehe king'sdeclared ntentions,and despitea numberof bold initiatives, he country'shistoricalegacyemains argelyatoddswith the conceptofgreateremoc-racy and genuinepolitical pluralismand continues o cast ts shadowoverpolitical ife.The monarchy'sositionnsocietyemainsomnipotent andits controlof thepoliticalsystemnearly absolute. obe sure, his systemhasbeen efashioned nder Muhammad,ut the monarchy emains hemotor of Moroccanpolitics.Thecountry'sparliamentaryystem,which hadbeguntsownreform processuring the later yearsof Hasan's ule,stilllagsbehind the royal palace's uthorityand hasnot emerged san alterna-tive centerof substantialoliticalactivity.Moreover,ariouscomponentsfMuhammad'soliticaland economic eformswereactually nitiated duringhis predecessor'seign,suggestinghat the new king'scoursemaybe ar ess revolutionary han the perceptionshat surrounded hem. Muhammad'sinitiativesmay thereforebe more about continuitythan changeand mightbe viewed more asbldwine in new bottles" ratherthanafundamentaltransformation fMoroccan olitics.Nevertheless,n the eightyearssinceMuhammad'sccession,oroccohasexperiencedonsiderableoliticalchange.Many facetsof its domesticpoliticalandscape avebeensignificantlylteredand are now a far cryl'rorn hepast.Politicalactsand deeds hat wereonceunthinkablehavenow bccorrre tandard nd outine.Many abooshatpreviously estricted oliti-cnlnctivity raveeenifted.Political igures ave ecomemoreoutspokenitrllrcir staterrrentsnd ess imid intheir general onduct.New politicalfrrre:csurdpcrsonalitiesave omeothe ore,and manyof the oldguardwrr(' r('nlov('cl-rorrthc'irpowerfulpostsnd ecededromthepublicspot-
 
134 /DanielZisenwine
light. Themonarchyhasadopteda more openstylen its day-to-dayctivi-tiesandhasbecomemoreaccessibleothegeneralublic.At thesame ime,Moroccohas had toface unexpectedhallenges,uch asIslamist-relatedterrorism.Economiceformshavebeenntroducedandpromotedata veryslowpace,andeconomicconditionsremaindifficultfor millionsof Mu-hammad'subjects.rogressn otherareasas alsobeenspotty.Moreover,a number ofpotentially explosiveocialandpoliticalquestions tillawaitresolution.For example,lthoughMorocco'sighly contestedersonal ta-tuscodehasbeensignificantlyevisedseeelow),he mpactof itspracti-calmplementationon Moroccansocietyand hestatusofwomenremainsunclear.Similaruncertaintiesurrounddebatesoncerningeforming hecountry'spoliticalsystem.ThisessaywilladdressMuhammad'sirst eightyears nthe hrone,eluci-datehe diverseand oftencontradictoryracksonwhichhe hasproceeded,andassessheimpact ofhispoliciesonMoroccanpoliticalife. In situat-ing recentdomesticdevelopmentsn a broadercontext'willalsodiscusswhetherhey indeedmark a departurerom earlierpoliticalpractices'orareprimarily a continuationof the slow-pacedeformprocessnitiated bytheking'sather.Teasingout theanswerso thesequestionsshouldhelpclarifythe Moroccangovernment'surrentposition regardingheprocessofdemocratizationndiberalization,andthe courset islikely topursueduringthe nextdecade.King Muhammad'sStyleof LeadershipThebeginningof KingMuhammad'seignwasshroudedn uncertaintye-garding heyoungmonarch'sbilityopromotea reformistpolitical agendawhilemaintainingsocialandpolitical controlovera complexpolity.Al-thoughmanyof Muhammad'solitical opinionsand nclinationswereeas-ilydiscernable,t was unclearwhetherhisinitialpersonalgestureswereaharbinger fmeaningfulhangesn the kingdom'soliticalcultureor merelycosmeticalterationsf traditionalroyalpolicies. nthe realm ofceremo-nialpomp and circumstance,t wasclearhatnew kingrecoiledromthemore ostentatiousspects fMoroccancourtife, suchashispreferenceorhandshakes henmeetinghis subjectsatherhanhavinghishand kissed,accordingo time-honoredustom,and heclosingofthe royalharem.Be-yondsuchsymbolicgestures,heking assertedheneed o introducea"newconceptf authority"hatwould championdeals f fairness,ransparency,
..-.drtsGt:
FromHasanIIo Muhammadvl/135
andthe ruleoflaw ingovernmentaffairs.Butsuchstatementsouldnotbetranslatednto politicalrealityif thenewkinglackedhisownsourceof legitimacy.ndeed,heskepticismegardingMuhammad'sptitudeandabilitytoshepherdMoroccontoa neweracompoundedhe king'sneedoseekhisownimprinton Moroccanpolitics.Muhammadtinitialactivitiesunderscoredhisintentions.Seekingoshakeoffthe lethargyhathadsurroundedhepalaceduringHasan'si-nal years,Muhammadsoughto projectan imageof anenergetic,ands-on leader.Accordingly,hekingconductedaseriesof high-profilevisitsto variouspartsof thecountry,ncludingremoteprovinceshathis fatherhadavoidedoryears,earingvocalopposition.neach isit,theassembledcrowdsenthusiasticallymbracedhe newmonarch,who wouldoftenper-sonallyapproachndspeakwiththemratherhanspeedy n a motorcade.ThewelcominghrongsdubbedMuhammadhe"kingof the poor,',a kingwhoappearedommittedo his people!personalwelfare.Hismannercon-trastedharplywithhatofhislateather,whoseauthoritariantyle nstilledhissubjectswith fearandawe.ItseemedhatmostMoroccansoundMuhammad'smageof acon_cerned,caring,andinvolvedmonarchappealing.ThemonthsfollowingMuhammad'saccessionereaperiodof widespreadermentandexcite-ment,asMoroccansecamecquaintediththe newking'sstyleandnotedthe removalofmanybarriershatnthepasthadovershadowedublicife.seekingoalterhe monarchy'spaquemage,Muhammadappointedhefirst-everspokespersonorthe royal palace,HassanAourid,whowasoneof Muhammad'sloseassociatesndwasassignedo helpexplainhe newking'spoliciesoboth domesticand oreignaudiences.t wasexpectedhatthesehangesouldbe complementedy astrengtheningf Morocco'sar-liament.aA furtherindicationof theking'snewapproachwashe unprecedentedpublicitythataccompaniedis20a2marriaggTraditionally,allaspectsftheMoroccanoyalamily'sprivateiveshavebeenkeptar frornhepublic!scrutiny.ndeed,whenKingHasanpassedway,iswife, whohadneverbeenseenn publicandwashardlyeverevenmentionedby name,didnotpubliclyparticipatenthe ritesofburialand mourning.Bycontrast,Mu-hammad'sride,salmaBennani,appearedn publicand heldseveralnter-viewswith themedia,alongwith herhusband.Thesenterviewsexposedthe royalcouplet personalifena mannerhat waspreviouslyunthinkable.shehassince aken anactivepublicroleandmaintainsa relativelyigh
 
136/DanielZisenwine
profile. Commentatorsalso noted theking'sdecisionomarry an urbanwoman(fromFez) nsteadof solidi$ingpoliticalalliancesy marryingthedaughterof a Berber riballeader, he traditional Solomonic-likeractice.sBut the king didnot limit his initial actionso highlypublicized,sym-bolicallyadenpublicactivitiesand set outto leavehis imprint ona hostof domesticpolitical and socialquestions hat were consideredsensitive"duringHasan'seign. Thesencluded strengtheninghe representativeo-litical systemnd heparliament's ole npublic ife and revisiting heegalstatusf women.Doing sowasa delicate ndproblematicundertaking,orit threatened o expose hedeep issuresand cleavagesithinMoroccansociety.At times,hese issureseven appearedo endangerhe countrytstabilityand caused hereform-mindedking topauseandreevaluateheimpact ofhis reforms on social andpolitical structures.Theseperiodicpausesereperplexing o many Moroccans,specially uringmomentsofcrisiswhen hepublic anxiouslywaited ohear he king'spronouncementsonthematters t stake. onsequently,omef the earlydoubtsoncerningMuhammad's bilityto skillfullyead Morocco nto a new eraesurfaced.Suchwas he case,orexample,n theaftermathof the Islamisterroristattacksn Casablanca n May16, 2003.The attacksshockedheMoroc-canpopulace,whichquickly turned tothe king, ookingfor guidanceandreassurance.ut Morocco'sreviouslyoutspokenand visiblemonarchwascuriouslyabsent or weeks romthe ensuingdebateabout he attacksandtheirimpact on Moroccansociety.Apart from thekingt initial visitto theattacked ites, herewereno official statementsoncerning heseevents. tseemedhat Muhammadandhis adviserswereuncertainabouthow tore-spond.Theyalsomay havebeen waiting ogauge he public's iewsegard-ing the appropriatemeasureso be adoptedbythe government.Althoughthegovernmenthastily enacted mergencyegislationaimedat combatingterroristactivity,and cracked ownheavilyon theperpetrators, upportingnetworks,and suspected ympathizers,t initially refrainedrom furtherreform measures.ndeed,t seemedasfthe entirepoliticalsystemwasovershadowedy the attacks nd heiraftermath.6Eventually, owever, heking gatheredhimself togetherand assertedanewhis commitment to shepherdinghis countryinto a newpoliticalera.n an October2003speech oparliament,Muhammadannouncedawidespread hangen Morocco's amily law, whichhad long been acon-tested opic.Earlier attempts o introducechangesn Morocco'samily awhad beenvehementlyopposedby Islamistandother sociallyconservativegroupsand hus shelved.Muhammad's ecision o adopt henew awwas
From HasanI toMuhammadVl/ 137
clearlypartof hisoverallesponseo the May16attacks,shesoughtoputthe Islamistopposition,both legaland extralegal,nits place.Thetimingwas propitious:Mostofthesegroupsand theirleaders,earfulof state-sponsoredepressionnthe wakeof theattacks,wereespeciallycarefulto toethe line,declaringhe king'sdecisiono adoptanewfamilycodeasoundnterpretationof religiousaw.othersegmentsfsocietywarmlywelcomedt.Emboldenedbythepublicresponse,he kingnowappearedobe farmoredeterminedo confrontheburningquestionsnMorocco's oliticalagenda'ButMuhammad'ssubsequentoliciesanddeedsdid notalwaysmeetexpectationsitherat homeor abroad,aisinganewhe question,owhatdegreewasthe newkingreallydepartingromthepracticesof hispredecessors,articularlyhisfather?ReforminghepoliticalSystemAlreadyin1996,KingHasanhadinitiated-reformsn Morocco'sparlia-mentarysystemas hesoughto improveMorocco's magenternationallyand preparehe groundforan orderlyransitionofpowero hisson.Theyincludedheestablishmentf a bicameralparliament,n whichthe lowerhousechamberof Deputies)wouldbe electedby a directballotfor fiveyears'a departureromthe previousunicameralparliamentn whichonlytwo-thirdsof thememberswereelectedydirectballot. Thenewlyestab-lishedupperchamberchamberofcounselors)wouldbechoseny specialbodiesdrawnfrom localandregionalcouncils,professionalssociations,andradeunions.Memberswouldbe elected ornine years,withone-thirdofthemtobe choseneveryhree years.Theupperhousewouldbe ableto proposeegislationand alsodissolvehegovernmentwith atwo-thirdsvote., However,hesetructuralchangesid notsignificantlylterhe natureofMorocco'soliticalsystem,sHasanand hemonarchyemainedhe dom-inant force.Moreover,he 1997parliamentaryelectionswere plaguedbydoubtssurroundinghe vote'sransparencynd airness.pposition partiesraisednumerousomplaintsf fraudandotherabuses,emonstratingnewthat achievingenuinedemocracynMoroccowasobe an arduousoad.Thenextstep nHasan's oliticalreformswas he formationof anarter-nancegovetnment,whichhe hadbeen promotingfora numberofyears.After a ong periodof negotiations,asanwasablen March99gto estab-lisha cabinetaseclnveteran,mostly eft-of-centerpposition arties,ed

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