The following is an excerpt for my latest piece on Jadaliyya, contextualizing the recent cabinet changes in Morocco and the political implications behind it:
The fluidity through which parties float from the coalition to the opposition and from the opposition to the coalition reveals more than just the pursuit of political interests (i.e., Istiqlal wanting to disassociate itself from the price hikes on food and fuel). This fluid movement practically renders the parliamentary election process in Morocco futile. Even if the parliamentary elections were intended to feed a narrative of a liberalizing political system, the shifting movements of political parties reverses any changes brought about by an electoral process. Moreover, the inability of parties to tow a consistent political line places more reliance on the monarchy as an institution, especially when it constantly intervenes in inter-party disputes at the expense of policy-making. The palace (the king and his shadow cabinet) is increasingly viewed as a stable mediating actor, rather than its true nature as an institution that operates with unchecked powers and impunity. It is through this strategy of capitalizing from the partisan squabbles among political parties that the monarchy has anchored itself in Morocco’s political landscape as a “uniting” and seemingly “necessary” actor.
The awesome Lakome (which is a wonderful source of news and commentary on Moroccan politics) is reporting that the royalist National Rally of Independents (RNI) is in talks to join Benkirane’s Party of Justice and Development (PJD) in the ruling coalition government. Of course, the speculation is contingent upon the king’s final approval. This comes a few weeks after drama unfolded between Hamid Chabat (Istiqlal Party leader) and Benkirane over who would kiss the king’s ass more, causing the king to inconveniently intervene via telephone while on vacation in his Betz palace in France. I wrote about this and how that whole “political crisis” was empty of politics and displayed more of the power dynamics than anything else.
So the possibility that RNI is making moves to join the coalition is hilarious, well-timed (for Mezouar and his gang at least), and not surprising. Hilarious because it was only a few months ago that Mezouar was bashing Benkirane and the PJD over the “slow pace” of reforms. Well-timed because the RNI has been largely irrelevant and they’ve managed to capitalize on what is perceived as a political crisis to squeeze themselves back in the picture just in time for people to remember they exist as a party for the next elections. Not surprising because this is the game of Moroccan politics.
Poor Aziz Akhennouch though. He ended up resigning from his party for no reason! But I’m sure that this won’t hurt things that much for him. Hell, my money’s on him for being chosen in the next round of royal advising appointments.
Blogger’s note: I forgot to mention how in my first assignment as a freelance writer, when I went to cover the opening of the Morocco Mall, the first person I made eye contact with at the “VIP ceremony” during Jennifer Lopez’s performance was a drunk and stumbling Mezouar. His bodyguards were escorting him out. I regret not capturing that moment on video. And he was still Minister of Finance then too. He had to have been a lightweight since he left so early.