Boycotting Elections in Morocco: a Matter of Choice or a Matter of...

Boycotting Elections in Morocco: a Matter of Choice or a Matter of Trust?


[symple_box color=”white” text_align=”left” ] yousfi yassirYousfi Yassir is pursuing a Master’s in “Culture and Linguistics” at the university of Ibn Tofail. He holds a Bachelor degree in Linguistics from the University of Moulay Ismail in Meknes (2012) and a second one in Applied Linguistics & TEFL from the Faculty of Educational Sciences in Rabat (2014). Yassir has conducted a research on “The Impact of On-Line Social Networking Sites on University Student’s Achievements.” [/symple_box]

boycotting elections morocco 

Agourai, Morocco-As the communal and regional elections are lurking around the corner, Moroccans’ opinions are split up between voting or not. For the ones who will make it to the ballot, they face the difficult choice as to whom they should vote for, the most competent candidate that has convinced them during the election campaign. Going back a little step back, particularly to the post-Arab spring period, many people trusted the before-elections vows of the PJD (Party of Justice and Development) on the eve of the 2012 elections. Nearly four years after, a large part of Moroccans started to reexamine their 2012 choices, especially given that the pressing problems Morocco suffers from are still well alive.

Three years have passed and it seems that nothing has changed in the social life of Moroccan citizens. During this time, many incidents took place that asserted the loss of trust of the public towards the politicians. Some events have opened the Moroccans’ eyes to many unseen facts that were not plain before. To name a few:  the collapse of 17 apartments in Casablanca, the death of 52 people in the last floods in Goulmim. In 2015, the Mawazine festival has raised another hot-button issue when Jenifer Lopez took to the stage almost naked, yet aired on the Moroccan national TV.

All these ignoble incidents have triggered Moroccans to reevaluate their selections in the coming elections. Few people would deny that the youth, who comprise the vast majority of citizens, are reluctant to go vote. They are persuaded that political parties won’t change anything about their future as long as they still suffer from joblessness and social injustice.

Usually people refuse to vote because they are hopeless about their representatives, those who favor wooden speak when addressing the audience. Here one may ask the following questions: why do so many youths boycott elections nowadays? Is it because the government made many promises and then broke them?

On the other side of the coin, sincere politicians should should ask themselves few questions to not lose track of their promises, questions like: Am I trustworthy? Am I transparent with myself? Do I keep my commitments? Do I build trust with my fellow citizens? Am I open to the public? Is my agenda open and accessible? What can I do to inspire trust? And above all, will people trust me in the next elections?

The last June 2015 survey conducted by Morocco’s news outlet Hespress revealed that the majority of Moroccans have left the idea of voting out of their volition. In other words, they have absolutely no will to vote. It was stated that 49% will boycott the forthcoming elections whereas only 41% decided to go to the polls, out of approximately 80 thousands of youths. In another study, Omar Iharchane, a Political Sciences professor at Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech, largely encouraged the public to boycott elections. He claims that from 25 million of the electorate, 11 million of the population automatically won’t vote without taking into account the agenda of whoever is running for office.

Much has been written in the world of literature concerning elections. Radical intellectuals have strongly denounced not only political parties and elections, but, in fact, even the constitution itself remains dubious at their eyes. The excellent example in this regard is “the Moroccan distinguished scholar Mahdi Al-Mandjra” as Samuel Huntington called him in his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order refered to him.  When he was once asked about his opinion about elections in Morocco, he said that if there were real and transparent study about the number of participants in an election, it would not exceed more than 20%.

Al-Mandjra argues that he is aware of no single political party that is credibly trustworthy. The constitution for him is not legitimate because it was imposed on the populace and thus it does not represent the public. Even more, he denied King Mohamed V’s order to establish a constitution with a group of people because for him the said constitution is neither of the people nor from the people. The same figure stated that he could challenge any politician or minister who would come and say: this is my “vision”. Al-Mandjra believes that we, as Arabs in general, lack a clear vision.

Youths are commonly frustrated with elections given that billions of Dirhams are embezzled wastefully and meaninglessly. When the youth see billions squandered on festivals of nudity like Mawazine, yet look at their entourage and see nothing but abject poverty, misery, despair and deplorable infrastructures, they begin to lose hope in all political parties and elected officials. Even more, many youths see themselves as “being used” by the political elites as puppets.

Abdelilah Benkirane, the prime minister, said on Aljazeera TV this year that, “His Majesty the King is the one who rules Morocco; he is the head of state, commander of the faithful, and the heads of the judiciary and the armed forces. He is the head of everything and this is what we have in the constitution.” The aforementioned illustrate that there is indeed a government and parliament in place, but it is only following what the King orders. It is thought to be also that the “ruling elites” are what is known as “the shadow government,” which is the real controller of the political, religious, judiciary and armed forces spheres.

Apparently, it is generally assumed that most Moroccans boycott elections because they have realized, after many years of despair, that today’s government  lack trust and competency, or even worse, they may arm themselves with some weapons of deception and lie in order to win a mere office mandate. Elections are based on concrete promises to embrace change, but it appears, unfortunately, that citizens have been betrayed and used by the elected officials so many times and therefore the public have finally fathomed the complete picture.

What it all boils down to is that most Moroccans have become aware of the very fact that the representatives have not changed anything in their beloved country. Therefore, every politician or representative must ask himself two deep questions before taking any step towards the troublesome political journey as this quote by Tom Peters goes: “Ask yourself…mercilessly: Do I exude trust? E-X-U-D-E. Big word. Do I smack of “trust”? Think about it. Carefully”.

[symple_box]Please Note that the views expressed in all opinions on The Moroccan Times are the authors’s own and do not reflect The Moroccan Times editorial policy.[/symple_box]