Editor’s note: The post is from an analyst with the Carnegie Middle East Center. Neither the Los Angeles Times nor Babylon & Beyond endorses the positions of the analysts, nor does Carnegie endorse the positions of The Times or its blog.
When King Mohammed VI announced broad changes to Morocco’s constitution in March, he signaled a shift from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy. The new, elected government that results from these changes will be accountable to parliament, have an independent judiciary, offer a more decentralized governance system, provide broader individual liberties and offer women the same chance of winning elected office as men.
The changes came suddenly. Before massive protests erupted in Morocco on Feb. 20 — part of the upheaval that has swept across North Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East — the political scene seemed stagnant; no political party was pressing for constitutional changes.
On that day, however, protesters in more than 50 Moroccan cities called to set boundaries on the king’s powers and hand over the executive prerogatives to an elected government that voters can hold accountable. The king apparently received the message, although he did not make any explicit reference to the protests in his speech.
The announced constitutional reforms open new opportunities for political life in Morocco. Seven significant suggested changes included in the reforms would do the following:
Shift executive power from the king to the prime minister. The prime minister will serve as the head of the executive branch and is fully responsible for the government, the civil service and the implementation of the government’s agenda.
In the current constitution, the prime minister is responsible only for coordinating activities among the ministers of government. With the prime minister selected from the political party that enjoys a majority in parliament, parties will need to develop their economic and social platforms.