After taking power in 1999, Mohammed VI stood. very soon facing great challenges. On May 16, 2003, suicide bombers killed a total of 45 people in attacks on five Jewish, Spanish and Moroccan facilities in Casablanca. The assassins came from slums around the economic metropolis. Less than ten months later, on March 11, 2004, a total of 191 people died in Islamist attacks on suburban trains in the Spanish capital, Madrid. According to computergees, almost all of the perpetrators came from Morocco. In the same year, an earthquake struck the north of the country, killing over 500 people.
The balance of the previous reign of Mohammed VI. and the development of political culture are viewed ambivalently by political observers and historians. The Bertelsmann Transformations Index shows slight progress in reforms and governance. A studyThe Science and Politics Foundation speaks of reforms in “slow motion”. It is true that the human rights situation has improved in some points; In 2004, in the course of the family law reform, women were given almost equal status before the law (see the chapter on society under “Gender issues”). However, the implementation of the women’s rights reform was slow, and new democratic achievements were soon turned back. Critical media were sometimes harassed so much that they had to close, such as the dedicated weekly newspaper “Le Journal”. The editor-in-chief of the weekly magazine “TelQuel” Ahmed Reda Benchemsi went into exile in the US after he wrote an article about the fortune of King Mohammed VI. had addressed and was therefore harassed.
In the following areas, Mohammed VI. significant reforms:
Human rights: Immediately after taking office, Mohammed VI dismissed. the longtime Minister of the Interior Driss Basri, who was considered a key figure in Hassan II’s oppressive apparatus. A few weeks later, Mohammed VI arranged for well-known Moroccan opposition members to be brought back from exile, including members of the opposition politician Mehdi Ben Barka, who was kidnapped and allegedly murdered in 1965, and Abraham Serfaty, who was expatriated in the 1990’s. Serfaty, who was seriously ill from torture and imprisonment, was naturalized again and received financial compensation, a house and a monthly pension. (Serfaty died in 2010, his wife Christine Daure-Serfaty died in 2014).
Economic Policy and Public Investment: King Mohammed VI. After taking office, he first visited northern Morocco, which his father had neglected for decades and which was economically underdeveloped compared to the rest of the country. At that time the monarch announced the creation of infrastructure and jobs in the impoverished region. As a result, the new deep-sea port near Tangier, numerous new roads and the trams in Rabat and Casablanca were built. The young king also set up the Mohammed V Foundation, which among other things looks after the socially disadvantaged.
In the most recent parliamentary election on October 7, 2016, over 6000 candidates ran nationwide. The turnout was 43% (2011: 45.4%; 2007: 37%), compared to 54% in the regional elections in autumn 2015. Almost 5,000 election observers from Germany and abroad were deployed. The election was rated as transparent by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, among others, despite reports of manipulation of ballot boxes and vote purchases.
According to the official final results, the ruling Islamist Party for Justice and Development PJD(Parti Justice et Développement) expand its lead and now has 125 of 395 seats (previously 107). In second place is the liberal-conservative PAM (Parti Authenticité et Modernité) with 102 seats. She was able to more than double her votes and is therefore considered a secret winner. The traditional Independence Party (Parti de l’Istiqlal, PI) only has 46 seats in the new parliament, the former ruling party USFP (social democratic) only had 20 seats. The former communist PPS only sends 12 members to parliament. The highly-traded left-secular alliance, the Federation of the Democratic Left under Nabila Mounib, fell far short of expectations with only two seats. Mounib himself failed to make it into parliament. Experts rate the result as an indication of growing polarization of the political landscape in Morocco. According to the Interior Ministry, the preliminary distribution of seats is as follows:
- PJD (Islamists): 125
- PAM (liberal-conservative): 102
- PI (nationalist-conservative): 46
- Rassemblement National des Indépendants: 37
- MP (Mouvement Populaire, Berberists, Liberal): 27
- UC (Union Constitutionelle) 19
- PPS (ex-communists) 12
- USFP (Social Democratic) 20
- Mouvement Démocratique et Social: 3
- Fédération de la Gauche Démocratique: 2
- Parti de l’Unité et de la Démocratie: 1
- Parti des Verts: 1
In accordance with the constitutional reform and the desired decentralization (keyword regionalization, régionalisation), direct elections to the so-called regional representatives took place for the first time on September 4, 2015, at the same time as the local elections. The turnout averaged 53.7 percent. So far, the regional representatives had been determined by indirect elections. The strongest forces emerged from the polls:
- Parti Justice et Développement PJD (Islamists) 25.7%
- Parti Authenticité et Modernité (PAM, liberal) 19.5%
- Parti de l’Istiqlal (Nationalist Conservative) 17.5%
The number of female regional representatives doubled as a result of the election. It is now 14, and is around 11%. The presidents of the regions are all men.
In the most recent local elections on September 4, 2015, the final national official results were as follows:
- Parti Authenticité et Modernité (PAM) 21.2%
- Parti de l’Istiqlal (PI, National Conservative) 16.2%
- Parti Justice et Développement (PJD, Islamists) 15.9%
The Moroccan Ministry of the Interior only published the detailed official final results of the local and regional elections of 2015 on June 15, 2016. During the election, regional councils were chosen for the first time in free elections.