"The more authentic Muslim modernists are those who have already taken a step across the historical threshold toward an enlightened skepticism of the whole Islamic tradition. There are many Muslim intellectuals who have done this, some of them contributors to the collection Islam and Democracy in the Middle East."—Max Rodenbeck, New York Review of Books
Two of the Arab world’s more liberal regimes, the kingdoms of Jordan and Morocco, are sometimes said to be evolving toward democracy. Is this true, and what are the longer-term prospects for these two monarchies?
Morocco was not immune to the 2011 upheavals in the Arab world, but the country’s monarchy deftly managed the crisis through cosmetic constitutional reform.
The most important aspects of Morocco's September 2007 parliamentary election may have been things that did not happen: The Islamists did not win, and many citizens either did not vote or spoiled their ballots.
Since the 1990s, Moroccan civil society groups have been proliferating, and they are increasingly influential in addressing society-wide matters including the rights of women, ethnic minorities, and the poor.
Morocco is a country with a "defused" political game: Elections do not play their usual role in democracies of allowing citizens to choose among competing agendas for policy and governance.
The program of carefully controlled reform-from-above that King Mohamed VI began almost a decade ago may now have reached an impasse amid signs of growing disaffection.
Since the 1950s, Morocco has engaged in reforms that have established a relatively open political and economic system, but democracy has not gained much in the bargain.