Political debate over elections reappears in Morocco

The North African country's interior minister has assured that the 2021 elections will not be postponed despite the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19
Archival photograph Parliament of Rabbat on April 19, 2017

AFP/FADEL SENNA  -   Archival photograph Parliament of Rabbat on April 19, 2017

The return to normality and the end of confinement in Morocco have created the perfect scenario for the resurgence of political debate. Thus, the Moroccan Minister of the Interior, Abdelouafi Laftit, assured the political parties that the elections of 2021 "will not be postponed", despite the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Moroccan daily L'Opinion. 

The Minister of the Interior will meet in the coming days with the leaders of the various political parties to discuss this issue. In fact, according to the information spread by some media of the Alaouite kingdom, the head of the executive, Saadeddine Othmani could have given the green light to his Minister of Interior to start talks with the different political formations on a possible ministerial reorganization, according to the above mentioned newspaper. 

Previously, Laftit had informed the various political parties represented in parliament "that the elections would not be postponed" in 2021, regardless of the economic situation.  The newspaper Le 360 has pointed out after consulting various official sources that most political leaders have agreed with the head of government to hold these elections as planned, except in cases of emergency. 

El ministro del Interior de Marruecos, Abdelouafi Laftit
AFP/FADEL SENNA - Morocco's Minister of the Interior, Abdelouafi Laftit

In the legislative, local and regional elections in 2021, Moroccan citizens will elect up to 32,000 positions in the territorial councils (regions, provinces, prefectures, municipalities and professional chambers), as well as 515 parliamentarians, including 395 deputies, who will be part of the Executive led by the party in first place in these elections, according to Le 360. . 

However, the meeting between the various political formations and the Moroccan Prime Minister will be held after the vote of Parliament on an amendment to the finance law, have collected several local media that have also ensured that a leader of one of the most voted parties has gone out of consensus by asking that the elections are postponed a year, ie until 2022, and that meanwhile form a government of national unity. The rest of the parties, in principle, have rejected this proposal, as well as the one that called for "forming a government of technocrats to manage this crucial stage". 

The controversy surrounding next year's elections has only just begun. More and more human rights activists are betting on a reduction in the number of members of territorial councils (from 32,000 to 12,000) and the number of parliamentarians (from 513 to 340), as well as the formation of a government of only 16 ministers. In recent weeks, the Moroccan Minister of the Interior has also received other offers calling for "the abolition of the combination of multiple mandates and the collection of monthly allowances," according to Le 360. 

El primer ministro marroquí Saadeddine Othmani
AFP/FADEL SENNA -Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani

This meeting is part of the continuation of the talks initiated in March on the possibility of reforming the electoral law and changing certain aspects, such as the current voting system. In this context, the Istiqlal party sent a request to Saadeddine Othmani on this matter, among other issues related to the 2021 elections. This party considers that compulsory voting does not correspond to its conception of democracy. "In the Istiqlal party, we are against compulsory voting for two reasons. First, we reject the logic of coercion. Compulsory voting is indeed a binding provision for citizens," said the party's general secretary, Nizar Baraka, in a statement published in L'Opinion. 

Baraka's party also believes that abstention is a means of expression and a means of reflecting political opinion. "As a party, our position is simple: we believe that politics cannot be rehabilitated by forcing citizens to vote," he stressed after saying that since its formation they have been more in favour of "using the logic of incitement rather than restriction". "We want to attract voters, but not under coercion," he concluded.