Morocco: Outfoxing the Opposition

Issue Date January 2012
Volume 23
Issue 1
Page Numbers 57-69
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On 1 July 2011, voters in Morocco cast ballots in a constitutional-reform referendum that the government claimed drew turnout of 73 percent and passed with a near-unanimous 98.5 percent majority. At first glance, the reforms look like major concessions. The king may not have abandoned all his powers, but he seems to have curtailed a significant part of them. More decisively, the new constitution seems to subject executive authority to the broad standards of human rights and, if not democracy, at least fairly balanced power sharing. But further inspection reveals that the monarchy may have succeeded in outfoxing its opponents by producing an elaborate constitutional smokescreen.