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Introduction Monarchy In Morocco History Essay

Morocco has been exposed to different kind of rulers. Many monarchs have been ruling it after the Death of the prophet Mohamed, where dynasties have been expanded to the North Africa to bring and share Islam. In this paper we will focus more on the Alawi dynasty because it is still the one ruling Morocco nowadays. They have been ruling since the 17th century, but the things that impacted the most the dynasty is starting from 1912. The year is very important because Morocco has been under the European protectorate. From that date we have three ruler’s name we should retain which are Mohammad V, Hassan II and Mohamed VI. Mohamed V was a much respected nationalist for Moroccan because of his loyalty and all the suffering he had to go through along with his family. His is the one that brought back to Moroccans their dignity by taking the independence in 1956. Mohamed became the king of Morocco one year after dependences, but his ruling period was too short. In 1961 he died and he had been succeeded by his son Hassan II.

Hassan II was a man with a charisma, through his experience with his father he was very educated and had a lot of communication skills. He took a law degree in France and he was as much fluent in French as in Arabic. At first, concerning the Moroccan political system he tried to democratize the country through introducing a new constitution one year after the reign. The constitution had been made of maintaining a strong power given to the king while providing a popular elected legislature. After three years, he exercised an authoritarian rule in order to contain the opposition and by giving a limited parliamentary government. During his reign human rights were not respected like freedom of speech, exercising torture in the well-known prison “Tazmamarte” and executions. Hassan II had many friends, he was popular and was favorable by other countries. However, we cannot neglect that he had many enemies who tried to kill him three times and making attempted coups. He was very harsh in his decisions and took the absolute freedom to rule the kingdom and take in charge all the political decisions. However we should not forget the green march to take back the Moroccan Sahara from Spain, and till now Morocco still struggling in taking it back from Algeria or what they call themselves the Polizario.

At a young age, Mohammed VI took the reign after the death of his father in 1999. He had been exposed to many responsibilities that he dealt with in a democratic way compared to his father. He tends to be more democratic and liberal and made a lot of transitional moves in justice system. He founded a lot of foundations that take care of poor people, rehabilitation of prisoners, give freedom of speech and support the civil organization. Even if it is said that during his first years Morocco had an absolute monarchy but this was in process of being constitutional. In 2003 he made a great moving by providing the new family code law that gave to Moroccan women more rights. After the Arab spring, Mohammed VI conducted a series of constitutional reforms to turn the country into a constitutional monarchy. As stated by him, the new constitutional reform” confirms the features and mechanisms of the parliamentary nature of the Moroccan political system”. The new constitution is giving low power to the king in order to make political parties to be independent in taking decisions. After the Arab spring, it is said that both United Kingdom and morocco are being constitutional or limited monarchies with some exceptions. So, the queen Elizabeth can participate only if she wishes to appoint a government, appoint or fire a prime minister, dissolve parliament, declare war etc… However, for the Moroccan king it is somehow an obligation to exercise such type of decision because the reform is still new and should take more time to be adapted in British way which is more logical and democratic vis-à-vis the United Nations.


1/ The monarchy in Morocco before the new constitution

First the absolute monarchy is defined by Miriam Webster dictionary as “When one person has complete control over the people. Two of the most known absolute monarchs are Louis XIV of France and Phillip II of Spain.” In our context it means more than that. It is a form of monarchical form of government in which the king is exercising ultimate power in governing the country. He is being as a head of state and the head of government at the same time. There are no laws written that limited his powers over his people including lands and what is associated with it. Before the 20th February, the king is the one introducing an elected chamber to the Parliament and recognized multi-party politics. Then it get supported by bicameral Parliament in lower house consists of 325 members in the Chamber of Representatives, elected by popular vote for five-year terms; and the 270-seat Chamber of Advisors in the upper house, whose members are chosen for 9-year terms from professional associations, trade unions, and elected local councils. Back then by exercising an absolute monarchy power, the sovereign king was responsible for writing laws and earmarking funds for matters relating to society and the economy with the help of some advisors. The sovereign king was responsible for writing laws and earmarking funds for matters relating to society and the economy with the help of some advisors. So parliament had a week presence and the monarch could easily alter or dissolve any government body without any reason.

2/ The 20th February Movement and the revolution in Morocco.

The origins of the 20th February were response to major movement in the north African region. Starting by Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen this had put some ideologies in the Moroccan’s protestant to try to make the something and talk for their rights. Morocco has a lot of different class where rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorest. The Moroccan government is highly corrupted and people could not stand that and live miserably without jobs and without reforms that could help them afford the increasing standards of living. All those criteria and in the occasion of the Arab spring some Moroccan took the lead to protest against the government and the king. However we should not forget to mention the social Media Facebook that allowed groups to communicate.

The 20th February move was not really coordinated between the groups, but what they agreed on was some sharing values which are “Freedom and Democracy” and “I am Moroccan, and I will go out on February 20th because….” And the timing. The protest had been in many Moroccan cities like Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakesh, tangier and Taza. As Tunisia and Egypt were protesting this has caused to boost the Moroccan civilians and the leftist groups. Then, Moroccans had no more fear and fired-up corrupted Makhzen and videos in YouTube started to pop-up. In few days after the upload of a video created by a Moroccan immigrant in US who started to address claims in a rude way and a populist tone to the king Mohammed VI, and this video received a lot of likes from more than a half million Moroccans. At this point nothing seemed to stop the movement, and the Moroccan government started to make actions to mimic and try to solve problems to stabilize the country and not get in the same trap of the other North African countries. They started to raise salaries by 15-35% in some industries but this was not enough. Then the king came and gave a dramatic speech urging a constitutional reform that constitutes on a “rule of law”, an “independent judiciary” and an “elected government that reflects the will of the people”. By launching the new reform the king forced the 20th February movers to stick to his agenda and not vice versa as it is said “he was taking the helm out of their hands”. The king ordered the reform committee to get in touch with all political groups and also the 20th movement groups. However this actions did not seem right for the 20th February groups because this committee was not elected but appointed by the king which a kind of an absolute monarchy power. So, it becomes obvious that the solution is making an election structure to overcome the problem. In the first July 2011, a referendum on constitutional reforms was held as a response to the dramatic situation and to the 20th February groups. What was to be approved in this vote was to electe a new prime minister, handling a number of rights, allowing parliament to grant amnesty, women will be guaranteed “civic and social” equality with men, and the Berber language will become an official state language along with Arabic. The election has been approved by 98% of voters which has been viewed as “an important step toward democratic reform” Hillary Clinton.

3/Respond of the government to the 20TH movement

A)The changes in the constitution stated in the king’s speech.

On March 9, the king Mohammed VI unexpectedly made a speech on television about the constitutional reform. The speech has dealt with many dramatic changes from the reduction of the monarch’s power and the parliamentary elections as well as other aspect as we will discuss in details. As stated by the King’s words the new reform “confirms the features and mechanisms of the parliamentary nature of the Moroccan political system” and laid the basis for an “efficient, rational constitutional system whose core elements are the balance, independence and separation of powers, and whose foremost goal is the freedom and dignity of citizens”. First the new constitution raises the fact that the prime minister is the head of government who get the majority of votes from the selected political parties rather than being appointed by the king. The king will continue to manage the Council of Ministers and the Supreme Security Council. The prime minister can be part of chairing these two councils, but only through an agenda that is set by the king. The prime minister will be given a new powers selecting Cabinet members and be part of other government positions. However, the king will remain the key player in selecting the regional governors. The parliament is getting stronger by giving the right for investigations into officials with the backup of just one fifth of its members. Concerning the judiciary that has been lacking for independence, it will be governed by the supreme council which is composed of judges and the head of the national human rights council and excluding the justice minister. The Constitution promotes gender equality by opting for equality between men and women in all political, economic, social, cultural and environment related rights promote gender equality. This action is showed under the increased number of elected representation of women judges, and women are guaranteed 12% of the seats in local elections. “Making sure Council membership is open to personalities and institutions operating in the area of human rights and the defense of judicial independence” King’s speech. Finally, still other departments will be under the kings power which are the military forces, foreign policy and the judiciary. Concerning the citizens they will exerce their human rights freely like the freedom of speech, of ideas and artistic expression and creation. This is a new step knowing that the only kind of rights that was offered is the freedom of speech with some limitations.

B)Changes in Government

As The four-party governing coalition is led by Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane of the moderate Islamist PJD, Justice and Development Party, many questions have been raised. The new party is more committed to change which is less hidebound than other originations. The party is still new, it did not even reach one year for its governance so it is highly difficult to assess their strength and weaknesses for the time being. From the last 10 month PJD had showed a very strong sense for transparency. Moroccans expect “Benkirane to emerge as a national – rather than partisan-political – leader capable of ushering Morocco into a new era of modernization and democratization”.  Starting by publishing the names of people who had the authorization for having transportation certificate. This has captured a positive view from the Moroccan citizens, because the transportation certificate it is said that should be given to the poor and not to wealthy people that already generates wealth from other activities. However, we noticed that the PJD lacks power because it could not continue in action of publishing. Many powerful entities putted pressure on him to forget on the subject and not reveal the names. Here we can see the weakness of the party that could not overcome the other hidden entities that are putting pressure in the Moroccan government. As it is said by the prime minister, one party cannot change the whole government if other parties do not take actions in putting alliances. Also by seeing the prime minister speech, he is strong enough to talk in a popular way that all Moroccans understand. He was capable of making the citizens understand some of the reasons behind some price cutting in terms of oil. Before, this was not the case, if prices are cutting no one could argue that and even ask for explanation. So, for the second time the PJD showed its presence and transparency in their actions. So, for Moroccans, having an Islamist cabinet is something new and remarkable for the willingness to give a constitutional reform. Even thou, PJD’s Abdelilah Benkirane’s power is technically limited. However, we should wait more time in order to see in practice what are the strengths and weakness because in theory strength can be raised while weaknesses could be mimicked.

4/ Monarchy in Morocco VS. Monarchy in the United Kingdom

Concerning the Moroccan human index, I relied on the UN human development report that was published in 2011. First, the human development index (HDI) is key factor of assessing the long term progress of a country through three different key drivers’ healthy life, access to knowledge and the standard of living. Morocco has scored 0.582 which medium and it is ranked 130 out of 187. In orders to assess the progress from 1980 to 2011, the table below gives more details.

As it is shown by the graph, all the key factors are increase but with a slow growth however we expect it to increase by the implementation of the new reform. So, life expectancy at birth increased by 14.4 years, schooling increased by 3.1 years and GNI per capita increased by about 84% from 1980.Compared to Tunisia and to Egypt Morocco is still under them and should work hard to achieve positive results.

As stated in the Foundations of comparative politics book written by Kenneth and Van Deth, the welfare of a country can be defined in five major goals which are reducing poverty, promoting equality of opportunity, promoting individual autonomy, promoting social stability and integration. As it has been mentioned in this paper, Moroccan government is fighting poverty through offering jobs and increase salaries but still there is a lot of work to do. As morocco has increased social expenditures and the focus in the rural area, the outcome is social indicators that are improved substantially. As it is stated by the World Bank “Poverty remains largely a rural phenomenon: almost one Moroccan out of four is poor in rural areas compared to one out of ten in urban areas. Although the rural population represents 46% of the total population, 66% of the poor live in rural areas”. However concerning the other factors of welfare there is more much improvements over the next year and the new constitution under Benkirane is promoting changes and more care about the welfare of the citizens.


The Arab spring was a key driver in wakening the Moroccan about their situation. Morocco is moving now from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy by limiting powers of the king. The new released constitution is promoting many positive aspect of human right and gets a lot of impression from other countries. Women are more and more getting chances to be part of the government which is not the case before. However, the new political party (PDJ) is still new, but Moroccans are beginning to see the changes even if they are small. Morocco is known for its stability which is maintained by the king, so in the future I do not think that Morocco can get rid of the king. The king has a great symbol as being the Amir al Mominin and Moroccan does respect that. However, it is not important who takes the countries control, but to give people their right and increase their welfare through positive economic project. For me I don t think that if we change the king automatically Moroccan will increase their GDP per capita because it is not feasible. What is feasible is that to educate people and make them think more about productivity and innovation to increase their welfare.