I was reading a lot of reactions and articles trying to make sense of the announcement that the Istiqlal Party decided to withdraw from the government, but was frustrated by the lack of focus on the real sources of power in Morocco’s political system. I briefly put together a post that I hope addresses that:
In the biggest representation of where power truly lies in Morocco, Hamid Chabat, Istiqlal’s general secretary and former mayor of Fes, announced he is “waiting for the king’s response for further instructions.” Lakome also revealed that Mohammed VI, who is currently on vacation in France, communicated with Chabat within hours of Istiqlal’s announcement. Mohammed VI, once again finds himself in a convenient position to play “mediator” for opposing parties who cannot seem to move beyond politics to get things done. Understanding Istiqlal’s move in this context reveals the nature of Morocco’s political system, where elections serve more as a constructed facade–a cornerstone argument for the February 20 Movement’s decision to boycott elections during November 2011, despite the regime’s attempt to paint those elections as a “step forward” following the constitutional referendum.
Assuming that either Chabat or Benkirane have the power to initiate a political turning point is dismissive of the fact that they are active in sustaining the authoritarian status quo which capitalizes on the symbolic participation of these parties. Istiqlal’s decision to move to the opposition also demonstrates the futility of elections. Having previously held the same position as the PJD at the head of the ruling coalition, there is no doubt that the Istiqlal Party is acutely aware of the limits in that position and that a move to the opposition is an empty gesture. A liberal interpretation would perhaps suggest that Istiqlal’s move is intended to isolate Benkirane and his party, yet the notion of this isolation would arguably strenghten the PJD’s base as its supporters will point to the failure of Istiqlal to work with the PJD. Even so, the move is not shocking, especially following the verbal confrontations Chabat inititiated against Benkirane soon after he was elected the head of Istiqlal.
Read the whole piece over at Jadaliyya.