Mohammed Masbah

Morocco’s Slow Motion Reform Process

The Tug of War between the Palace and the Justice and Development Party

SWP Comments 2014/C 06, January 2014, 8 Pages

The October 2013 government reshuffle in Morocco marks the latest round in the drawn-out tug of war between the Palace and the Justice and Development Party (Parti de la justice et du développement, PJD), which heads the ruling coalition. The Palace came out as the clear winner, and thereby managed to roll back some of the limited concessions granted in response to the protests in early 2011. Regional dynamics – support from the Arab Gulf monarchies and authoritarian reconstruction in Egypt after the July 2013 coup – and the dispute between the PJD and its coalition partner, the Istiqlal (Independence) Party (Parti de l’istiqlal, PI), worked to the Palace’s advantage. Even though the relation between the PJD and the Palace has ameliorated considerably compared to one decade ago, the Palace’s strategic aim is to weaken the party while at the same time using it to stabilize the regime. In the short term, and as long as the PJD is able to retain popular support, it will remain in office and retain a limited margin of maneuver for reform. Profound political reforms as well as structural socio-economic and judicial reforms, however, are likely to be postponed to the mid to long term. European Union policy makers should use the EU’s long and close relations with the Palace to encourage it to allow more substantial reform and cede power to the elected government.

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