Can a Middle Eastern monarchy that presides over a relatively poor country satisfy growing demands for democratization, power-sharing and social reforms while maintaining control over the political system? Can it do so, furthermore, at a time when it is faced with the difficult political fallout from economic liberalization policies, and when its economy remains fragile and very vulnerable to international pressures, outside shocks and weather conditions? Can such a regime reinvent itself through both day-to-day political maneuvering and long-term institutional restructuring, so as to allow the monarchy to survive into the twenty-first century as a far more than ceremonial institution? Since the late 1980s, Morocco's King Hassan has been confronted with such a daunting challenge. Thus far, he has been able to meet it.
The Moroccan monarchy's relative success in adjusting to a demanding set of domestic pressures may seem surprising at first. After all, unlike the oil dynasties in the Persian Gulf, the Alawite regime does not have the vast economic resources that facilitate social and political control. To be sure, during the two decades that followed Morocco's independence in 1956, the Palace did resort to strategies that relied heavily on the buying off and co-optation of real and potential opponents.1 It is also true that King Hassan's considerable personal fortune still provides him with much leeway to reward clients, especially through his participation in Omnium Nord Africain (ONA), Morocco's largest economic conglomerate. But by and large, since the late 1970s, the Moroccan regime has found it increasingly difficult to ensure political loyalty through the distribution of spoils and patronage. Because of the growth of the urban middle class, and as a result of Morocco's increasing exposure to the outside world, such clientelist tactics have become far less viable means of ensuring domestic stability. In any event, the pool of economic resources on which the monarchy can draw to maintain clientelist networks is no longer as extensive as it was in the past. Moreover, the policies of structural adjustment and economic liberalization pursued since 1983 have diminished very significantly the government's ability to manipulate the economy for political purposes. For instance, the lifting of governmental controls over economic transactions and the disengagement of the state from key economic sectors have reduced the extent to which the regime can use preferential access to loans, licenses, permits and public markets to reward its clients in the private sector. Meanwhile, very significant cutbacks in public expenditures have imposed new economic hardships on the population.
How, then, has Morocco's monarchy addressed rising political and social demands? As was suggested above, relying on state largess is not really an option. And unlike in the region's more authoritarian states, repression has been used only sparingly and in moderate doses. It usually has targeted only those who advocate violence or cross certain implicit but well-understood "red lines" (such as questioning the sanctity of the monarchy or the legitimacy of its dominant role in the political system). In short, the Moroccan regime has responded to societal demands neither by tightening political controls (as in Egypt or Yemen), nor by relying on the divide-and-rule and co-optation tactics on which it depended so heavily in the past. Instead, King Hassan has developed a unique approach to tackling the requirements of an increasingly politicized society. This original strategy, which we call "the strategy of political dualism," blends progress toward modem forms of democratic governance with the resort to centuries-old ways of exercising power and authority in the Alawite kingdom.
This article will show that the king has implemented this strategy repeatedly during the 1990s. He has used it to respond to popular demands in areas as different as those of governmental accountability, the legal status of women and the cultural rights of the Berber community. He also has resorted to this strategy to address problems ranging from youth unemployment to labor unrest. Evidence will be provided to suggest that the strategy has been remarkably effective, in that it has ensured the continued dominance of the monarchy over the Moroccan political system, while enabling that system to adjust to the challenges posed by a rapidly changing, more complex and more politicized society. But before concrete illustrations of the strategy of political dualism can be provided, its nature, roots and significance must first be analyzed more closely.
UNDERSTANDING THE STRATEGY OF POLITICAL DUALISM
By "political dualism," we refer to the king's tendency to resort to one of two different tactics - or a combination of both - to respond to societal demands. The first consists of developing the format of modem political pluralism. It involves, in particular, the broadening of the space within which civil-society organizations can operate, more transparent elections, an expanded role for Parliament and other steps designed to accommodate greater political participation and make the government more accountable. Manifestations of this process include the increasing vitality of associational life since the late 1980s, the promulgation of a more democratic constitution in 1992, a freer and more vocal press, a flurry of local and national elections, and the constitutional referendum of September 1996. These and other changes represent significant progress toward a more institutionalized, participatory and democratic polity.
However, side by side with these concessions to democratic governance, King Hassan has also responded to societal pressures by resorting to an entirely different tactic: royal arbitration, which constitutes the second component of his strategy of political dualism. Whereas steps toward modern political pluralism are inspired by Western notions of government, royal arbitration is a concept and a practice indigenous to Morocco. Drawn from the country's past, it is central to its political culture. It revolves around a view of the king as both supreme arbiter and ultimate decision maker. As arbiter, the king mediates among contending groups and factions and thereby prevents conflicts from tearing society apart. As ultimate decision maker, he decides on overarching issues, especially those which could not be resolved in the absence of royal intervention, because the other players in society were too divided among themselves.
The monarchy can play this preeminent role for two reasons. The first is its tremendous religious authority and its role as a symbol of national identity and historical continuity. Because of these attributes, the monarchy has always been at the very center of Morocco's social and political systems. It is endowed with an aura of legitimacy and continues to occupy a special place in most Moroccans' hearts. The second reason for the monarchy's dominant role is the king's unique position in the political system. Not being elected but born into his role, the king can claim that he is neither tied to any specific constituencies nor constrained by electoral considerations in his pursuit of the national interest. He therefore can contend that he is ideally positioned to act as a mediator, and that he alone can be trusted to settle controversial issues in a way that is most consistent with the welfare of the country as a whole.
We argue in this article that the practice of arbitration has been energized by the processes of modernization and democratization, rather than being undermined by them as one might have expected. In fact, royal arbitration has been used far more frequently in the 1990s than in any decade since Morocco achieved independence in 1956.2 Thus, even as he makes concessions to democratic notions of governance, Hassan II still relies heavily on a practice, royal arbitration, that reaches deep into Morocco's past. Which side of his strategy of political dualism the king emphasizes depends in part on the situation. At times, he focuses on developing the components of a modern democratic society and political system.
That is when, for instance, he strives to make Parliament a more central institution in the country, when he allows for freer and fairer elections, tolerates or even encourages greater associational pluralism and press freedom, and seems intent on removing the monarchical institution from involvement in day-to-day policy making. On other occasions, however, the king seems just as determined to bypass, short-circuit or undermine modern representative institutions and mechanisms and to reassert the monarchy's prerogatives and supremacy. Most often, he follows both tracks of his strategy of political dualism at the same time, strengthening the "modern" side of Morocco's political system while simultaneously activating its more traditional components. As a result, Morocco's society and politics have become more democratic, but at the same time the functioning of modern representative institutions (such as Parliament) and the application of Western political concepts (such as governmental accountability) are being distorted by older, indigenous practices and notions of government (such as royal arbitration).
Such backward and forward motion between steps that appear to be moving Morocco in the direction of a modern democratic state, and decisions that clearly reassert traditional forms of authority, raises interesting questions. Is such a strategy viable in the modem world? What ultimate motives does it reflect? Are both components of the strategy complementary or do they work at cross purposes? Before such questions can be addressed, however, concrete illustrations of the strategy of political dualism must be provided. Accordingly, the following sections examine how, during the 1990s, the king applied this strategy to respond to societal demands in four areas, all of which have been the locus of intense negotiations and bargaining between civil society and the state: political rights (the demand for a political system that provides for greater participation and governmental accountability); civil rights (which in Morocco have three main dimensions: human rights, women's rights and the official recognition of Berber culture); socio-economic rights (we shall focus on the question of youth unemployment and labor demands); and the rule of law.
RESPONDING TO DEMANDS FOR POLITICAL RIGHTS
Since the 1980s, Hassan II has been faced with mounting calls for a system of government that better reflects the will of the people and provides more avenues for the population to influence decision making. He has responded to these pressures through a series of initiatives intended to build up the "modem" and "democratic" components of Morocco's political system. Two such initiatives can be mentioned. The first was the adoption of a new, more democratic constitution in 1992, followed by the effort to make Parliament a more visible and influential institution. Another critical step was the constitutional amendment of 1996. Introduced by the king, this reform provides for both a directly elected Chamber of Representatives (a long-standing request of the opposition and therefore an important concession to it) and a new, indirectly elected upper house. Called the Chamber of Councilors, this upper house strengthens regional representation, bringing government closer to the people.3
The 1990s also witnessed unprecedented electoral activity: municipal elections in October 1992, a referendum on the new constitution the following month, legislative elections in June and September of 1993, another constitutional referendum in September 1996, municipal elections in June 1997, elections to professional chambers in July 1997, and legislative elections in November 1997. One factor driving these elections and referenda has been the king's desire to project - both domestically and abroad - the image of a polity undergoing rapid transformations aimed at making the rulers more responsive to the ruled. And indeed, Morocco in the 1990s resembles a political construction site on which one new building after another is being erected while older ones are constantly being renovated.
All of this activity, however, has been designed to preserve the monarchy's key prerogatives, not to tum it into a mere symbolic institution within a British-style parliamentary democracy. Significantly, the very manner in which democratic reforms have been implemented has been replete with assertions of royal authority that have undermined the spirit of these reforms while, ironically, also making them possible. In short, King Hassan has responded to demands for political rights in ways that exemplify his strategy of political dualism. This approach will now be analyzed in greater detail through a brief review of the essential features of the 1992 constitution, the revealing way in which that constitution was ratified by popular referendum, the legislative elections of June and September 1993, and the constitutional amendment of 1996.
CONSTITUTIONALISM UNDER MONARCHICAL DOMINANCE
The 1992 Constitution
The 1992 constitution was a milestone toward more accountable government in several important respects. To begin with, it empowers the prime minister to select his or her ministers and places the cabinet under his or her responsibility. Previously, the cabinet was under the authority of the king, who also chose the ministers. The change introduced by the 1992 constitution thus constitutes a modest step toward a greater diffusion of power throughout the political system; it takes away one of the monarchy's traditional prerogatives and in general gives the prime minister more leeway to set and implement the country's agenda. Moreover, because this transfer of responsibilities from king to prime minister is accompanied by a strengthening of Parliament's oversight power over the cabinet, the premier and his or her ministers can now more easily be called to account and blamed for policy failures.
At the same time, and in a way that exemplifies the king's strategy of political dualism, the enhanced stature of the prime minister does not necessarily represent a decrease in royal power. By surrendering to the prime minister some influence over domestic policy questions from which the monarchy actually has little to gain politically, Hassan II strengthens his position as supreme arbiter standing above the fray of partisan politics. And, by refraining from becoming embroiled in day-to-day political battles, he can more effectively justify his far more critical role in the following areas: setting the tone and general philosophy of government policy; settling issues that are either too controversial or too sensitive to be left to others; and deciding matters of "high policy" (national security and foreign affairs).
In any event, one should not exaggerate the extent of the transfer of responsibilities from the king to the prime minister. The monarch may no longer directly select cabinet members, but he remains the only one who can appoint them. Therefore, he can veto the premier's choice of ministers. Furthermore, in selecting his or her ministers, the premier will always take into consideration the king's preferences. Similarly, the fact that leadership of the cabinet is now an explicit responsibility of the prime minister does not mean that the king can no longer exercise a decisive influence over cabinet proceedings when he wishes to do so. He still presides over the cabinet, appoints all senior civil servants, signs and ratifies treaties, and serves as commander-in-chief of the Royal Armed Forces. He can dismiss individual ministers or the entire cabinet. Most important, his personal advisers, who are accountable only to him, often have more power than ministers, and their reflections can shape the nature and direction of the work of ministers.
The 1992 constitution also improved governmental accountability by increasing Parliament's prerogatives. Certainly, it still favors the executive over the legislature (a feature that was not altered by the constitutional amendment of 1996). Nevertheless, when compared with previous constitutions (those of 1962, 1970 and 1972), the 1992 document achieves a much more equitable balance of power between the two branches of government. This is reflected in five important innovations.
- First, although the king retains the power to dismiss Parliament, his declaring a state of emergency no longer automatically entails the disbanding of the legislature, as was the case in all previous constitutions.
- Second, Article 26 of the 1992 constitution states that the king must now act on a law passed by the legislature no more than 30 days after Parliament has forwarded that law to the government. Until 1992, by contrast, the constitution did not set any time limit on the monarch's need to decide what to do with a law adopted by the legislature (promulgate it or ask Parliament for a second reading). As a result, there were frequently long delays between the time when a law would be adopted by Parliament and when that law would actually be promulgated by the king and therefore take effect. The fact that the king could sit indefinitely on a law passed by the legislature was damaging to Parliament's credibility and public image. It was a painful reminder of the legislature's tightly circumscribed powers, even in the area of law-making.
- Third, the 1992 constitution also enhanced the oversight powers of the Chamber of Representatives by empowering it to create commissions of investigation (Article 40). Opposition parties had long requested that Parliament be granted that right.4 Despite the strict limits of their mandate (they have no specific authority and are merely intended to provide MPs with information), these commissions provide yet another potential avenue for parliamentary control over the executive.
- Fourth, the 1992 constitution makes the oral questions session a more effective means by which MPs can force cabinet ministers to account for their actions. Like previous constitutions, the 1992 document states-that one parliamentary session a week be devoted to the questions that deputies have for ministers. The innovation, however, lies in Article 55 of the 1992 constitution, which specifies that did ministers must now answer Parliament's questions within 20 days of the submission of the question. This is an important change, because previously most of the questions asked by parliamentarians had remained unanswered by the government.5 By mandating the government to answer Parliament's questions within 20 days, the 1992 constitution improved the effectiveness of one of the major means through which parliamentarians can exercise some oversight over the executive branch: the interrogation of ministers. This new provision represents an important step toward greater governmental accountability.6
- Finally, previous constitutions did not require that a new cabinet be endorsed by Parliament; the 1992 constitution does. After the cabinet has been appointed by the king, the prime minister must present his program before the Chamber of Representatives.7 This presentation is followed by a debate in the plenary and then by a parliamentary vote over the government's program. If the vote is negative, the entire cabinet must resign. To compel governments to submit their program to a vote of confidence is an important innovation that highlights the cabinet's responsibility to the legislature.
In short, the 1992 constitution clearly was intended to make Parliament a more credible and influential institution. To a large extent, the new document was an effort by the regime to respond to the political aspirations of the urban middle classes, which are not well integrated into the channels of the makhzen and are more likely to press their interests through formal organizations and institutions such as political parties, interest groups, NGOs, syndicates, trade unions and Parliament.
Highly revealing of the king's strategy of political dualism, however, is the way this constitution leaves ultimate legislative authority in his hands. Unlike Parliament, the king can legislate in any area he deems appropriate.8 Furthermore, even after it has been passed by Parliament, a law does not take effect until it has been officially promulgated by royal decree (dahir). Should the monarch disagree with a law, or should he want modifications made to it, he can return it, with comments, to the legislature. To disregard the king's suggestions or overcome his opposition, Parliament needs a two-thirds majority (in both chambers, since the 1996 constitutional amendment).9 If Parliament comes short of that majority, the king may decree that the issue will be decided through a popular referendum, which almost certainly will result in the outcome that the monarch favors.10 The constitution thus contains many safeguards to ensure that Parliament cannot pass laws with which the king disagrees.
The independence of the legislative branch is also undermined by Article 27 of the constitution, which entitles the king to dissolve parliament and rule by decree, after proclaiming a "state of exception." It is further weakened by his power to set and change the date of parliamentary elections. This provision has been used on several occasions in the past. For instance, Hassan II postponed elections by one year in 1983 and by three years in 1990. In both cases, the extension was decided at a time of domestic unrest and is believed to have worked to the advantage of pro-government parties. In general, the king's right to decide when legislative elections will take place - or to change the timetable at a moment's notice - helps him keep political forces off balance and serves as a constant reminder of the monarchy's ability to set and manipulate the rules of the game. In the summer of 1997, there was much speculation regarding whether legislative elections would take place in the fall, as scheduled, or be postponed at the last minute by Hassan II.
Overall, while the 1992 constitution points to King Hassan's willingness to encourage greater governmental accountability, it also shows his determination to preserve the monarchy's sweeping prerogatives. Hassan II made that clear in his speech of August 20, 1992, when he stated that, in spite of the increase in the government's and Parliament's prerogatives, he would remain "the [ultimate] guarantor of the balanced and satisfactory functioning of the institutions." Fundamentally, the king still sees ministers and elected representatives as individuals to whom he has delegated responsibility, not as officials who have their own mandate. As he put it, "The fact that I am delegating certain powers to the government and Parliament does not mean that I am devolving or relinquishing these powers to them." Hassan II still sees ministers and parliamentarians as ultimately accountable only to him, while he remains accountable only to God. One is reminded here of a speech which the monarch gave to the opening session of Parliament on October 13, 1978, during which he declared:
Your mission is one of control. But who is in charge of controlling those who control? [... The answer is:] God and His Prophet, that is, the representative of the Prophet on earth, [who is also] the supreme authority in the country. Thus is confirmed what I have always told you ... which is that while separation of powers is indispensable, it can under no circumstances involve the supreme authority [i.e., the monarchy]. The control by the one whom God has entrusted with the great mission of being the successor of the Prophet is indispensable, not only over the executive branch, but also over the legislative one.
Hassan II's understanding of the respective roles of the monarchy, the cabinet and Parliament has not changed fundamentally since then. The implicit assumption behind it is that both the king as a person and the monarchy as an institution remain above all other institutions in the land.
THE RATIFICATION OF THE 1992 CONSTITUTION
The manner in which the 1992 constitution was approved through a referendum held in September of that year provides another illustration of the strategy of political dualism. In this instance, the king allowed electoral results to be falsified in order to give the appearance of overwhelming popular endorsement of a document which, ironically, provided for a more democratic political system. The paradox of violating democratic procedures for the sake of introducing democratic reforms is only apparent. It can be understood once it is linked to the old practice of bayaa, the annual act of allegiance between the Moroccan king and "his" people.
Bayaa is not just a ceremonial or symbolic gesture; it is designed to reassert on a regular basis the supremacy of the monarchy. It renews the contract between the sovereign and the country's political, social and religious leaders (cabinet members, governors, military officers, notables, ulama and chorfas), who pledge subordination to the king's spiritual and temporal powers. As in pre-colonial Morocco, those who fail to accept both the spiritual and temporal components of the king's authority are considered subversive outcasts, modem-day equivalents of the old bled siba.11 And when voices call on the king to reign but not rule, they imply that there is a distinction between legitimate political authority and symbolic or spiritual authority. One of the functions of the bayaa ritual is precisely to deny the existence of such a distinction in Morocco.
In this context, it becomes easier to make sense of the events of September 1992. Although all major opposition parties except for Ali Yata's PPS (Parti du Progres et du Socialisme) had called for a boycott of the referendum on the new constitution, official results indicated that 97.2 percent had turned out to vote and that 99.97 percent of these had approved the text which had been submitted to them. The meaning of these unlikely returns was clear: the king, who on three separate occasions had urged Moroccans to vote and endorse the new constitution, was not willing to accept results that might have suggested that his people had not followed his lead. In his mind, the "referendum" had to be both a step toward democracy and a modem-day bayaa to the throne. And the two were linked: political reforms could be granted only if the organic link between the monarchy and its people was reaffirmed. An overwhelming victory was all the more necessary considering the opposition parties' call for a boycott, which the king interpreted as a sign of defiance, a modem-day siba. Hassan II felt that he had to demonstrate to the opposition how futile its stand had been. Before proceeding with political reforms, he had to make clear that Moroccan-style democratization could never be accompanied by a questioning of royal power and that it would proceed at a pace and along lines set by the palace - and by the palace exclusively.12
The 1993 election
The legislative elections of 1993 offered yet another example of the king's strategy of political dualism. Under the system in place at the time, the then unicameral legislature was elected in two steps: two-thirds of its members were chosen through direct elections, in June, while the remaining third was selected indirectly, three months later, by representatives of municipal councils and professional and wage-earning groups.
The first round of balloting followed an electoral campaign during which opposition parties were able to publicize their views and programs very widely. By Moroccan standards, both the campaign and the actual vote were remarkably free of governmental interference. They resulted in a major breakthrough by the four main opposition parties and in particular by the USFP (Socialist Union of Popular Forces) and the Istiqlal, which captured the two largest numbers of seats (48 and 43 respectively).13 Altogether, the opposition won 101 out of the 222 seats filled through this first round. On the basis of these results, some observers were expecting the opposition to play an important role in a coalition government with the Rassemblement National des Independants (National Rally of Independents, RNI).
This was not to be, however. As in the 1984 elections, the second round (the indirect vote held in September) "corrected" the results of the first, both between the majority and the opposition and within each camp. Irregularities and bureaucratic interference compounded the effects of a system that gave center-right parties a built-in advantage and enabled them to reach a comfortable parliamentary majority of 195 out of 333 seats. The position of strength attained by the opposition after the first round had evaporated. In a dramatic gesture that underscored both the opposition's anger and its powerlessness to change the system, USFP leader Abderrahmane Youssoufi resigned his position as secretary general of the party and later left the country.14
This episode offers yet another manifestation of the strategy of political dualism. What is striking in this instance is the quick-paced alternation between progress toward democratic governance (the first round of balloting in June) and the resort to older, more familiar practices designed to ensure the outcome favored by the Palace (the September ballot). One step forward toward democracy had been followed less than three months later by two steps backward toward makhzen-style politics. To many observers, the 1993 elections had proven once again the king's unwillingness to accept the full logic of democracy. They had shown that his understanding of Parliament's rightful place in Morocco's political system is still shaped by the practice of shura, consultation. Historically, shura has been exercised through assemblies that make the people's wishes and grievances known to the authorities. These assemblies, however, have no independent power, and they are selected by the ruler, not elected. In Morocco, electoral irregularities and fraud have raised the question of whether Parliament is truly elected or whether parliamentary seats are actually attributed according to a quota system before the vote takes place. Public rumor in the kingdom has long suggested that the number of seats the opposition receives in any election is roughly predetermined by the Ministry of the Interior (acting on what is believed to be the monarch's wishes). If that is the case, the shura character of Morocco's Parliament becomes very clear: consultation can only take place with partners chosen by the monarchy, not imposed on it by the people.
THE 1996 AMENDMENT
The constitutional amendment initiated by the king and approved overwhelmingly by referendum on September 13, 1996, represents yet another manifestation of Hassan II's attempt to consolidate royal authority just as he also seeks to facilitate a genuine democratization of the political system.15 The bicameral parliament introduced by this reform constitutes progress toward democracy in several respects. First, it provides for the direct election of all the members of the Chamber of Representatives (the lower house), thereby removing the built-in conservative bias that characterized the previous electoral system.16 Second, only the directly elected Chamber of Representatives has the power to endorse the cabinet after the latter has presented its program to Parliament.
Parliament's endorsement, therefore, can now be said to better reflect the will of the people, as expressed in the direct elections to the lower house. Third, because the constitutional amendment was supported by a very large majority of political forces in Morocco, including the main parties on the left, it represents yet one more step toward a broad national consensus on the country's institutions. In that respect, it enhances prospects for further democratization. The fact that the USFP, the Istiqlal and the PPS campaigned actively in favor of a "yes" vote demonstrates that these parties no longer question the central political role of the monarchy. In this context, the king is understandably better disposed toward political reforms than he was two or three decades ago, when key political forces did not agree on the basic rules of the political game and were questioning the monarch's very legitimacy. Dealing from a position of strength, the king can now afford compromises.
The constitutional referendum, therefore, also strengthened the monarchical institution. For one, the existence of two chambers - both of which are influential, but can easily be controlled by rival political alliances -heightens the king's position as ultimate referee. In addition, the Chamber of Councilors is given very significant prerogatives, including the power to censure the government.17 Therefore, it can significantly slow down, complicate or even prevent efforts by either the cabinet or the lower house to push for legislation or policies that might be opposed by the monarchy or that might constitute a threat to its dominant position.18 The Chamber of Councilors, in short, can be expected to play the role of "defender of the throne." This scenario is all the more likely considering that this chamber will articulate the concerns of the social forces that used to be represented through the indirect election of one-third of the deputies and will therefore have a conservative coloring.
The power of the upper house to act as a check on the lower house and the cabinet lies at the root of the contribution of constitutional reform to both democratization and the strengthening of the long-term position of the monarchy. By allaying the monarch's fears of the political implications of a lower house controlled by the left and the Istiqlal party, it makes a cabinet dominated by these forces a far more realistic prospect. In short, it opens the door to the long-delayed alternance (alternation of power), which itself must be a possibility if a political system is to be called democratic. The existence of a strong upper house capable of operating as a counterweight to the lower chamber and the cabinet also reduces the regime's need to engage in the kinds of electoral manipulations that until now were necessary to ensure a compliant Chamber of Representatives. As a result, the regime's legitimacy and its claim to be operating according to the rule of law should be enhanced.
Overall, the new constitutional arrangements should help the monarchy further extricate itself from involvement in day-to-day politics. It thus bolsters the king's claim that he stands above electoral and party politics, allows him to shift the blame for failed policies away from the monarchy, and thereby strengthens the prestige, legitimacy and authority of the monarchical institution as the kingdom prepares to enter the twenty-first century.
RESPONDING TO HUMAN RIGHTS DEMANDS
In the early 1990s, the Moroccan regime found itself under pressure to deal more forcefully than it had in the past with the issue of human-rights violations in the kingdom. Several factors contributed to this situation. Moroccan public opinion, for one, had become far less tolerant of abuses in the area of civil liberties. A freer press and a more relaxed political atmosphere had also allowed the question of human rights to acquire greater visibility. In addition, the creation of the Moroccan Organization of Human Rights (OMDH) in 1988, and the dynamism displayed by that organization during its first few years, had helped put the question on the public agenda.
Critical as well were international pressures, both direct and indirect. Since the mid- l 980s, Morocco had expressed a strong desire to build closer economic ties with Europe. In 1987, the king had even applied for membership in the EEC. Although he had been politely turned down (on the grounds that Morocco is not located on the European continent), the prospect of a NAFTA-like agreement with Europe seemed real enough to warrant special efforts to improve the kingdom's image overseas. The regime knew that to earn the goodwill of its main European partners it had to take steps to curb human-rights abuses. In June 1992, after all, the European Council had officially declared that the future of the European Community's relations with the Maghreb would take into account "respect for international law, human rights and democratic principles."
More generally, the regime was becoming increasingly impatient with international criticism of its human-rights record. It was tired of being on the defensive and always finding itself in the position of having to react to the latest Amnesty International or State Department report on human-rights violations in the kingdom. It understood the new need for "international respectability" and realized that the issue of human rights was shedding an unfavorable light on the kingdom, threatening its ability to secure much needed economic concessions from Western governments and international institutions.
King Hassan's response to these domestic and international pressures illustrates once again his strategy of political dualism. In April 1990, he created a "Consultative Council on Human Rights" (known as CCDH, Conseil Consultatif des Droits de l'Homme) and entrusted it with providing him with "recommendations" on human-rights issues. Included in the CCDH were spokespersons for both governmental and civil-society organizations concerned with human-rights questions: government ministers; representatives of political parties, trade unions and human-rights organizations; university professors; one delegate each for the Moroccan Bar Association, the Moroccan Association of Magistrates and the National Medical Association; and six personalities who, in the words of the royal dahir that established the CCDH, were "to be chosen for their competence in the field of human rights and for their high moral standing." Except for government ministers, all council members were to be appointed by dahir.
As is true of other consultative councils created during the first half of the 1990s, the CCDH can be analyzed as both a step toward democratization and a reassertion of royal supremacy. Its contribution to democratization is reflected in its mission (improving the country's human-rights situation) and composition (civil-society organizations are well represented in it). One of the king's apparent objectives in creating such an institution is to show that the regime consults very broadly before making decisions, particularly in politically sensitive areas. The inclusion in the CCDH of independent personalities and spokespersons for political parties, trade unions, professional syndicates and human rights organizations is clearly intended to lend credibility to the regime's claim that it encourages and welcomes the participation of associations in decision making.
At the same time, the CCDH also represents a display of royal prerogatives. It was created at the king's initiative and placed under his direct authority. Its members were appointed by royal dahirs. The philosophy to guide its action was articulated by the monarch himself, during the speech he delivered when he announced the council's creation. That speech contained specific guidelines ("High Royal Directives") tha1: council members were urged to keep in mind when conducting their work. Furthermore, when the king asks the CCDH to examine a particular issue, he includes with his request specific "royal instructions" to help the council in its deliberations. Most important, the CCDH has no independent power or authority. As an advisory body, its function is merely to formulate "opinions" or "proposals." The king is the exclusive recipient of these "recommendations" and acts on them (or declines to do so) as he deems fit.
Ultimately, what matters is what the king decides. The CCDH's role is nevertheless significant in several respects. First, it is empowered to take up on its own initiative any issue (within its sphere of competence) to which it wishes to draw the monarch's attention.19 Second, it already has demonstrated its usefulness in addressing important issues such as detention without trial and living conditions in jail. Its proposals led to substantial revisions of the Penal Code in 1992. Furthermore, as will be shown below, the CCDH helped implement the king's July 1994 amnesty for political prisoners.
Most important, though, is the CCDH's role in legitimizing royal decisions by allowing the king to present them as reflecting the consensus reached by all the key actors, both governmental and non-governmental, that are concerned with human-rights issues. The CCDH's broad and diverse membership, combined with the monarch's ability to select its members, ensures that militant voices will be drowned out and that the consensus reached by the council will usually reflect the king's wishes. And if the council fails to reach an agreement, the monarchy can claim the right to settle the question, by pointing to divisions within the CCDH as evidence that society is dangerously polarized on the particular issue at hand.
Consultative councils in general are instruments through which the centuries old role of the monarchy as conflict manager and supreme referee is simultaneously reasserted and adapted to new circumstances. The monarchy still seeks to project the image of an institution that is primarily concerned with limiting or arbitrating the conflicts that pit litigious social groups and political elites against each other. But it also knows that the actors and issues that drive political and social debates have changed. In this context, the king's main role is no longer limited to maintaining a balance between competing clans or between rural and urban elites. His arbitration function must now be expanded and modernized to include managing the debates over issues of democracy, human rights and governmental accountability that go on within civil society as well as between civil-society organizations and the state. Seen from this perspective, the creation of consultative councils represents an effort by the monarchy to institutionalize and update the practice of royal arbitrage.
The king has used another familiar tactic to respond to human-rights demands: the dramatic gesture, which catches all players off guard and reminds them that only the monarchy can significantly alter the status quo, particularly on politically controversial questions. This tactic usually takes the form of a highly publicized speech in which the Palace offers path breaking reforms while highlighting the limits of these reforms. In this particular instance, Hassan II used the opportunity of his sixty-fifth birthday on July 8, 1994, to declare his intention to "once and for all turn the page of those who are called political prisoners." He then gave the CCDH 48 hours to provide him with a list of prisoners who could be pardoned. He expressed his desire that this list be as long as possible, but with one important caveat: those who failed to recognize Morocco's claim to the Western Sahara were to be excluded. In short, the king was making a significant concession to civil society's demands in the human-rights area, while also stressing the parameters within which the new freedoms he was bestowing on his people could be exercised. The list submitted by the CCDH was immediately approved by Hassan II. Within weeks, 424 political prisoners had been released.
This entire episode exemplifies the strategy of political dualism. On the one hand, it led to the single most important political amnesty in the kingdom's history and thus dramatized the regime's commitment to building a polity more respectful of individual rights and freedoms. On the other hand, it also amounted to an impressive display of royal power. The king had shown that, through a single speech, he could almost instantly change the terms of the human-rights debate in the kingdom. Individuals who had been incarcerated since the 1970s were suddenly allowed to go home. Their families and friends, who for years had endeavored to obtain their release, were reminded- if they needed to be- of the monarchy's singular ability to affect the course of all individual lives in the country.
RESPONDING TO DEMANDS FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS
In the mid-to-late 1980s, Morocco witnessed the creation of scores of associations dedicated to improving the legal status of Moroccan women.20 The first such association was the Association Democratique des Femmes du Maroc (ADFM), which came out of the women's section of the PPS and was born in June 1985. Two years later, the Union of Feminine Action (UAF) was established, mostly by women active in the Organisation de l'Action Democratique et Populaire (OADP). By the early 1990s, dozens of organizations devoted to women's issues were in existence, several of them quite active in organizing seminars and conferences on various aspects of women's role in society.
It was in this context that the regime was suddenly confronted with a concerted campaign for an expansion of women's rights.21 On March 5, 1992, two days after the king's announcement that a new constitution would soon be submitted for approval in a referendum, the UAF sent an open letter to the president of Parliament, the presidents of the parliamentary groups and the leaders of the political parties. The letter pointed out that the mudawwana (Morocco's Personal Status Code, promulgated in the aftermath of independence) contradicts the constitution, which proclaims the equality of the sexes, and that it also goes against international conventions and resolutions ratified or signed by Morocco. The letter also noted that, although women represent one-half of the electorate and one-third of the labor force, not one single session of Parliament had dealt with the important issue of the place of women in society. It then urged parliamentarians to make up for lost time by modifying the mudawwana to bring the legal status of women in line with the modem world.
Two days after sending this letter, the UAF launched the most ambitious action ever undertaken by Moroccan women: a national petition aimed at gathering one million signatures to demand significant changes in the mudawwana. The campaign turned into an immediate success. Not only did it energize women's associations across the land, but it was also endorsed by the OMDH, the PPS and the USFP. Throughout the kingdom, the UAF organized conferences and information sessions. For the first time ever, self mobilization among Moroccan women was focusing national attention on the flaws of the mudawwana.
This campaign unfolded as the national debate about the new constitution was already well underway. What was perhaps inevitable then took place: arguments were heard to the effect that the revision of the constitution called for a similar reexamination of the mudawwana. After all, the king had described the new constitution as part of a broader process of democratization. Women activists were quick to seize on this claim to note that democracy also requires ending legal inequalities between men and women. The UAF's open letter to Parliament had already suggested that there was a logical connection between constitutional reform and modification of the mudawwana, by observing that democratization could not be limited to the relationship between state and society but had to include relations within society itself and in particular those between men and women, both in public life and inside the family. As a step toward reducing the social marginalization of women, the UAF had even advocated a minimum quota of 20-percent women in all elected bodies.
At that point, the leaders of several Islamic associations stepped into the fray, most prominently Abd al-Ilah Benkirane, the head of the Movement of Reform and Renewal (Harakat al-islah waal-tajdid). They described the reforms advocated by feminist circles as going against Islamic injunctions and claimed to see in them an effort to eliminate the sharia as the foundation of legislation in the kingdom. Soon, they were joined by some of the most prominent ulama in the country, several of whom sent an open letter to the prime minister and the president of the Chamber of Deputies, in which they described the UAF campaign as part of a plot against Arabs and Muslims. As they saw it, that conspiracy sought to strike at Islam by targeting its stronghold, the family. Accordingly, they urged the government and the Chamber of Deputies to put an end to this campaign, so as to prevent the fitna (tearing apart of society) which, they argued, it was bound to provoke. They even advocated that those responsible for this frontal attack against Islam be tried, not only so that they could be punished, but also so that their "true motivations" might be revealed.
To King Hassan, this heated exchange represented both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge was twofold. First, the parties involved were addressing their grievances to Parliament, the prime minister and the government - but not to the king himself. Hassan II thus had to remind everyone that the issue of the mudawwana was of such importance that only he was entitled to settle it. Second, the debate on the mudawwana had become so acrimonious that it was threatening to polarize Moroccan society, pitting Islamists against feminists and traditionalists against modernists. That very situation, however, also provided the monarch with an opportunity to reassert his role as ultimate referee and guardian of national unity. In other words, the social and political divisions which the UAF's campaign had exposed were an invitation to royal arbitration. The king was quick to realize this, and he acted accordingly.
On August 20, 1992, Hassan II delivered a speech that dealt mostly with the new constitution. That speech, however, also included remarks intended to end the controversy on the mudawwana. The king began by stating that what was at stake was a religious issue and, therefore, one that was for him and only him to settle. He then warned his people not to bring this issue into the on-going debate on the reform of the constitution or into the forthcoming electoral campaigns. The tone was threatening, and the style deliberately repetitive so as to leave no doubt as to the king's determination to tum the page on the mudawwana debate:
During the referendum campaign [for the ratification of the new constitution] and during the electoral campaigns that will follow, refrain from mixing what belongs to religion with mere temporal and political issues. Thank God, Morocco has remained impervious to such a dangerous amalgam .... So, refrain from raising this issue [the mudawwana] during electoral campaigns. May politicians and orators also avoid it during these campaigns, because ... it threatens to disrupt the balance of Moroccan society.
Hassan II then invited women and the representatives of women's associations to address their "observations, criticisms and grievances" directly to him, by writing to the Royal Palace. In passing, he reminded his audience that only he, as Commander of the Faithful (Amir al-Muuminin) was empowered to reexamine the legal status of women, which is based on the sharia, in light of modem circumstances:
I know the constants of religion [i.e., that which cannot be changed without violating Quranic precepts] just as I know where ijtihad can take place [i.e., the areas where he might grant reforms based on his personal interpretation of Islamic law].
The king conceded that "there are shortcomings, ... there is discrimination and there is injustice." But he urged his audience to "let [him] solve these problems outside the political scene, so that we [Moroccans] do not find ourselves trapped by forces that have no place in our midst and never will."
In its timing and content, this speech was vintage Hassan II. It centered on a controversial issue that had just shown how divisive it could be. It reminded everyone that only the Palace can deliver concrete progress on fundamental questions that affect the nature of social and political relations in the kingdom. It mixed the offer of reforms with reminders that these reforms will be carried out only at the initiative of the king and at the pace that he sets for them. It highlighted the boundaries between what is open to public debate and what is part of the monarchy's "reserved domain." It also exemplified Hassan II's strategy of political dualism, in that it was delivered at a time when the monarch was presiding over a revision of the constitution that substantially enhanced Parliament's influence, yet it in effect implied that the issue of women's legal status was too important to be entrusted to Parliament and that only the monarchy was entitled to deal with it.
Most important, this speech provided further evidence that royal arbitration is taking place not despite modernization and democratization, but because of them. After all, the issue of reforming the mudawwana would not have been raised had it not been for the growing discrepancy between the legal status of Moroccan women and what many of them now aspire to, following the tremendous socioeconomic changes that they have experienced since the mudawwana was first issued in 1957. Similarly, the campaign for the reform of the mudawwana had been launched by women activists close to the leftist opposition, and it had mobilized dozens of associations. This could not have happened if the regime did not tolerate a large degree of political and associational pluralism, and if groups and organizations were not allowed to articulate their grievances and demands with at least relative freedom.
On September 29, 1992, the king followed up on his speech by receiving a delegation that he described as being made up of "representatives of movements, organizations and associations of women in Morocco." In reality, all the women present had been hand-picked by the Palace in what was yet another instance of shura at work. The delegation, furthermore, was clearly intended to neutralize the kingdom's most vocal feminists. Significantly, it featured only one woman affiliated with the UAF, but seven attached to the Royal Cabinet or various ministries. The spotlight had just been shifted from those activists who had initiated the campaign for a revision of the mudawwana to women - many of whom belonged to the makhzen - who had played no role in that campaign. In short, merely by consulting with a delegation he had chosen, the king had asserted his "royal prerogative" to decide which women would be entitled to speak on behalf of Morocco's women.
The monarch told his audience that he had heard the grievances expressed during the public debate on the mudawwana, but he cautioned that he could "neither forbid what God has allowed nor permit what He has forbidden." That statement was yet another display of royal prerogatives. What it said was essentially the following: "As Amir al-Muuminin, I am the only one who can decide which reforms can or cannot be granted, on the basis of my interpretation of the sharia." However, in a manner consistent with his effort to project the image of a ruler who consults widely before settling controversial issues, the king announced his intention to have leading ulama and representatives of women study the issue of which changes might be made to the mudawwana. He then expressed the hope that both groups would reach a consensus and added that he would not make a final decision until examining the content of that consensus.
Accordingly, later in the fall of 1992, the king formed a twenty-member "Consultative Commission," composed of prominent ulama, judges, jurists, the minister of justice, the minister of waqfand Islamic affairs, and two of his personal advisers (including Abdelhaj Boutaleb, whom he also appointed chair of the commission). Spelling out very carefully the framework within which that commission should proceed, he gave it responsibility for drafting a proposal for a revision of the mudawwana. Approximately six months later, on May 1, 1993, Hassan II received 35 women, hand-picked by the Palace once again but officially described as "representatives of women's organizations." He turned over to them the results of the Consultative Commission's deliberations and asked them to forward their reactions to the commission.
Significantly, although the 35 women invited included one representative for each of ten parties,22 none belonged to the UAF or the OADP.23 The king had deliberately excluded the activists who had initiated the campaign for a revision of the mudawwana. By November 1993, the exchange between the Consultative Commission and the "representatives of women's organizations" had resulted in the hoped-for consensus. The commission submitted its final recommendations to the king, who immediately ratified them.
The resulting changes in the mudawwana were very modest indeed. And the king enacted them because they were those which he had envisioned all along. But by going through the motions of consulting widely with women and spokespersons for official Islam, he had given these changes the legitimacy that they might not have had otherwise and was able to present them as the result of a national consensus arrived at after a long dialogue orchestrated by the monarchy.
RESPONDING TO DEMANDS FOR CULTURAL RIGHTS
In Morocco as in Algeria, the separate identity of the Berber community has long been a sensitive issue. Since the late 1980s, voices in that community have called for an official recognition of the distinctiveness of Berber culture and for programs (such as the teaching of Tamazight, the Berber language, in schools) aimed at protecting and promoting the Berber heritage. Underlying the debates over cultural pluralism in Morocco, however, has been the longstanding fear that national unity might be undermined by highlighting differences between Arabs and Berbers.
In part, this sensitivity goes back to the protectorate period (1912-1956), during which the French deliberately fostered Berber identity and interests in an effort to thwa1t nationalist feelings.24 Although the attempt failed (indeed, it backfired and was turned by the nationalist movement into an instrument of popular mobilization against the protectorate), it had long-lasting effects. Even in the aftermath of independence, one could not raise the issue of Berber cultural rights without risking being accused of following in the footsteps of the colonialists. Besides, Morocco's nationalist movement had been Jed by the urban Arab bourgeoisie, which was instinctively hostile to the idea of recognizing the existence of a distinct Berber identity in the country. It is not surprising, therefore, that for the first decade after independence, the issue was essentially swept under the rug.
The question nevertheless resurfaced in 1967 with the creation of the Moroccan Association of Cultural Research and Exchanges (Association Marocaine de Recherches et d'Echanges Culturels, AMREC), a group dedicated to the study, preservation and promotion of the Berber heritage. The emergence of this association was the first expression in post-independence Morocco of a demand by civil society for official recognition of Berber culture.25 The regime, for its part, was willing to allow the association to operate, as long as it kept a relatively low profile and did not cross the line between cultural and political activity. By respecting these informal rules of the game, AMREC was able to play an instrumental role in the gathering and publicizing of oral Berber traditions.
During the 1970s, a new and far more politicized association, al-Intelaka, appeared, but it was quickly forced to stop its activities following harassment by the administration and the security apparatus. Still reeling from two coup attempts (in 1971 and 1972), a failed military uprising (in 1973) and a series of alleged leftist plots (also in 1973), the regime was not yet willing to countenance such an association.
The early 1990s, however, saw unprecedented activity in Berber circles, resulting in the emergence of a half-dozen new associations.26 Perhaps the most militant and dynamic, Tilelli ("freedom" in Tamazight), organized several conferences and established close ties with Berber associations abroad. In addition, Berber activists were able to take advantage of greater press freedoms to spread their message. In 1994 alone, four new publications exclusively devoted to Berber issues were created, including the bimonthly Tifinagh (a word which refers to the Berber alphabet and also means "Our Discovery") and the weekly Tidmi ("Watchfulness"), both of which found a receptive audience. Even more striking perhaps was the fact that, by 1995, the dailies of two left-wing parties, the PPS and the USFP, devoted two pages a week to Berber issues.
Cooperation among Berber associations also increased significantly. In August 1991, six of them signed the "Agadir Charter," a document designed to publicize their common demands. Decrying "the systematic marginalization" of the Berber language and Berber culture, this charter called for the achievement of seven objectives, including the insertion of the Tamazight language and Berber culture in teaching programs, and the inclusion in the constitution of a provision describing Tamazight as "a national language, next to Arabic." In February 1994, the associations that signed the Agadir Charter were joined by nine others in an umbrella organization known as the National Coordination Council (Conseil de Coordination Nationale, CCN).
Faced with this upsurge in demands for the recognition of Berber cultural rights, the king responded in a manner consistent with his strategy of political dualism. On the one hand, he showed himself willing to broaden the space within which Berber grievances could be expressed. This is reflected in the existence of militant associations, such as Tilelli, which would not have been tolerated a decade earlier. It is also seen in the ability of Berber activists to reach a wider audience through the established press as well as new publications. Over the past few years, the monarch has also made the defense and promotion of Berber traditions a more frequent component of his speeches. All in all, by allowing proponents of Berberism to publicize their views and activities, by permitting them to take advantage of greater associational pluralism, and by articulating a discourse that stresses the contribution of Berber culture to Moroccan civilization, the king projects the image of a ruler far more willing than in the past to accommodate minority rights within a democratic framework.
Going hand-in-hand with this trend, however, has been Hassan II's repeated assertions of royal control over the sensitive issue of Arab-Berber relations in the kingdom. Just as he has given advocates of Berber rights more leeway to promote their message, the monarch also has gone to great lengths to emphasize that the Berber question is part of his "reserved domain." The best example of this affirmation of royal prerogatives was the speech he gave on August 20, 1994.
The timing of the speech was significant: it was delivered less than four months after the May 1, 1994, demonstration in Er-Rachidia, during which Berber militants affiliated with Tilelli had held banners (some of which were written in the Berber script) and chanted slogans calling for the teaching of Tamazight in schools.27 The event had led several individuals to be arrested, interrogated and detained by the police. Ultimately, two were condemned to two years in jail, and one received a one-year sentence.28
The incident had suggested that neither the authorities nor Berber activists knew exactly how far demands for cultural rights could be pressed without crossing one of those "red lines" that define acceptable political behavior in the kingdom. Was one allowed to call for the integration of Tamazight in school curricula? Could banners written in the Berber script be held during a public demonstration? No one really knew. Everyone realized that new rules of the game were being worked out between the state and the Berber community. But the new rules were not clear yet. As one might expect in this kind of situation, Berber activists had tried to see how far they could go in publicizing their agenda. Local officials, for their part, had reacted in a predictably cautious manner. By cracking down on what they perceived as unacceptable behavior by Berber activists, they had attempted to set limits to the concessions that the state was willing to grant in the area of minority rights.29 But who was to say that their decision reflected the new "national consensus" on Berber rights? The issue, it was clear, would have to be decided by the monarchy. In short, the incident had highlighted the need for royal arbitrage.
Both government and civil society had to be informed of the new rules pertaining to cultural-rights issues. To do so was precisely the purpose of the king's August 20, 1994, speech. In that important address, Hassan II noted that, at a time when the country was conducting a national assessment of teaching methods and curricula, it had become "appropriate" to "consider introducing the teaching of [Berber] dialects ... at least in primary schools." He also described Berber "dialects" as "components of [Morocco's] authenticity," and reminded his audience of their contribution to the kingdom's "history and glories." Yet, the monarch was also careful to stress that Arabic, "the language that had conveyed the word of God, ... the Holy Quran" would remain "the mother tongue of the country.30
In so many words, Hassan II had set the new parameters within which demands for cultural rights could be articulated. To Berber activists, he had opened the door to the teaching of their "dialects," at least at the primary school level. After the king's speech, it would be far more difficult to oppose the idea of teaching Berber in schools, because to do so would put one at odds with the king's expressed will. For similar reasons, it would be harder to suggest that Berber dialects did not represent an important component of Morocco's cultural heritage.
At the same time, to the Berber associations that had signed the Agadir Charter, the royal speech must have come as a disappointment. The king had said nothing about making Tamazight an official national language. He had deliberately refrained from speaking of a Berber "language," preferring instead to use the word "dialects." He had stressed the superior status of "the Arabic language," both by emphasizing its connection to the Quran and by making it very clear that it would remain the "mother tongue" of the country. From then on, therefore, it would be far riskier for Berber activists to request that Tamazight be made an official language, side by side with Arabic. Furthermore, the king had implied that the teaching of Berber dialects might be limited to the primary-school level. All of these limits on minority rights represented a real setback to Berber militants. By contrast, they were reassuring to those (for instance, the electorate of the Istiqlal party, or individuals with strong Islamic convictions) who traditionally have feared that constitutional, legal and political guarantees for the minority (Berber) culture would undermine the country's Arabo-Muslim character.
In short, the speech was a typical exercise in royal arbitration. It dealt with a highly sensitive and polarizing issue. It was explicitly designed as an effort to balance the claims of competing segments of Moroccan society. It was delivered after societal unrest had pointed to the need for royal intervention. It specified the exact extent of reforms that had been granted recently in a piecemeal and ad-hoc fashion and focused on highlighting the limits of those reforms. Ultimately, it was intended to settle a delicate issue both by invoking royal authority and by satisfying a small component of civil society's demands (in this particular case, the demands of Berber activists).
RESPONDING TO YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT
In the early 1990s, Morocco's population was around 27 million, 60 percent of whom were under the age of 25, and 45 percent under 16. With this population still growing at the rate of about 2.5 percent a year, it had become increasingly difficult for new entrants into the labor market to find jobs. Unemployment was hovering around 20 percent but may have been as high as 30 percent among urban residents aged 15 to 25. In short, Morocco had become a society made up predominantly of young people, but also one in which youth were disproportionately hit by joblessness.
One of the king's political responses to this major societal challenge was the creation of yet another consultative council, the National Council for Youth and the Future (CNJA, Conseil National pour la Jeunesse et l'Avenir). Hassan II defined that council's mission as follows: "To carry out research, studies and surveys, and to issue recommendations and proposals that will help Us define and implement, through consultation, the great policy that We intend to conduct for the youth and the future of Our dear nation.”31 The manner in which the CNJA was established, as well as its composition, prerogatives and mission, show a strikingly familiar pattern which by now will be familiar to the reader.
First, the creation of the CNJA was announced by the monarch himself, on July 8, 1990 (only three months after he had founded the Consultative Council on Human Rights). The timing was significant, since it coincided with the Fete de la Jeunesse (Youth Day) and the king's sixty-first birthday. As would be the case four years later with the amnesty for political prisoners, Hassan II had chosen a very personal occasion to assert the monarchy's leadership role in fighting a key societal problem that had been festering for too long.
Second, implied in the king's speech was the following message: despite their best efforts, governmental and non-governmental institutions have not been effective enough in reducing the social disease of youth unemployment; it is therefore the monarchy's responsibility to step in to lead and coordinate a national effort to that effect. One important function of the monarchy was thereby reaffirmed: energizing the government and the nation after they have shown themselves incapable of coping with intractable issues that threaten the country's future.
Third, the king's speech explicitly described the CNJA as a structure designed to facilitate a broad-based dialogue, both among civil-society organizations concerned with the problem of youth unemployment and between these organizations and the state. To make the council's recommendations as representative of Moroccan opinion as possible, the king included in it a wide array of actors confronted with the issue of joblessness among the youth.32
Here again - just as he had done to respond to demands for human rights, women's rights and cultural rights - the king was striving to show himself eager to involve civil society in the search for solutions to a complex and politically explosive issue. To do so, he created yet another consultative council, taking care to include in it a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, from governmental as well as non-governmental circles. And by asking that council to come up with concrete recommendations acceptable to all its members, the king was essentially trying to force civil society and government to assume their responsibilities, find common ground and work together to improve the welfare of the "Moroccan family."
The entire process was designed to help the king project the image of a leader who welcomes the input of voluntary and professional associations, and endeavors to build a partnership between government and civil society. It was also intended to demonstrate that the regime is committed to moving toward more democratic political arrangements that emphasize negotiation, compromise, consensus building and popular participation in decision making. And yet, the process also had left no doubt as to the supremacy of the monarchical institution. In short, it had offered one more example of the strategy of political dualism at work.
RESPONDING TO LABOR DEMANDS
The first half of the 1990s witnessed renewed activism by Moroccan labor unions, the largest and most influential in North Africa and the Middle East.33 This assertiveness reflected mounting pressures from rank-and-file members dissatisfied with wages, social benefits, labor rights and working conditions. Underlying this popular discontent, in turn, was the economic impact of austerity measures and severe droughts in 1993, 1994 and 1995.
One aspect of the king's response to this social turmoil deserves to be mentioned here: the creation, on September 26, 1994, of a Consultative Council for the Following of Social Dialogue (Conseil Consultatifpour le suivi du Dialogue Social, CCDS). This council demonstrates once more that the practice of royal arbitration is being energized by rapid socioeconomic transformations instead of being undermined by them.
The CCDS displays features similar to those of other consultative councils, including broad membership, advisory powers and exclusive reliance on the king as an interlocutor. According to the dahir which created it, the CCDS is made up of government ministers;34 representatives of employers, trade unions and professional organizations; and personalities chosen "for their proficiency in social matters as well as for their probity and integrity." All members, except for government ministers, are appointed by dahir. The council can be called into session by the king or by half or more of its members, should they decide that a particular issue is important enough that they must draw the monarch's attention to it. During the speech in which he announced the CCDS's creation, Hassan II warned that the Council "should not wait for a social crisis to break out" before it decides to convene.
The CCDS is empowered to deal with any issue that is part of the dialogue among social partners, including salaries, benefits, labor legislation and economic strategies to promote employment. It is not intended to serve as a substitute for direct discussions between employers and representatives of labor. Instead, its mission is to further that dialogue and offer recommendations or compromises whenever it breaks down.
The CCDS's first success was in its mediation of the strike at the ONCF (Office of National Railways, Office National des Chemins de Fer) in June 1995. The conflict had lasted almost a month. It had resulted in very heavy financial losses at the ONCF and had paralyzed many sectors of the economy, hitting particularly hard industries heavily dependent on railroads to transport their goods. After numerous discussions between management and union representatives failed to reach a compromise, the king himself called on the CCDS to convene to attempt to resolve the crisis. A meeting of the CCDS was thus held on June I, 1995. The general manager of the ONCF and the leaders of the unions were invited to present their views. Aware that the king's personal intervention was a clear signal that the Palace wanted the conflict to come to a negotiated end, both parties suddenly adopted a far more conciliatory tone. By the end of the day, a compromise had been hammered out, and the strike was over. Royal intervention, exercised indirectly through the CCDS mediation, had played an instrumental role in the resolution of a modem-day labor dispute.
King Hassan's strategy of political dualism illustrates the misleading nature of the dichotomy between "tradition" and "modernity," on which many analyses of developing polities remain predicated. Morocco in the 1990s presents us with a regime that has repeatedly reactivated a "traditional" philosophy and practice of government, such as royal arbitration, precisely as the society over which it rules has become truly "modem." Moroccan politics thus belies the assumption that indigenous, centuries-old modes of. exercising authority must inevitably give way under socioeconomic pressures to modem, Western-style forms of government. Indeed, one of Morocco's most striking features today is the survival of the monarchy not merely as a ceremonial institution, but as a governing body, despite major socioeconomic mutations which, according to development theory, should have undermined the king's position. After all, the Palace's most faithful constituency, rural dwellers, are now outnumbered by urban residents; the urban middle classes, which historically have supported opposition parties, have grown; the old allies of the monarchy - rural and urban notables - have been partially displaced by a new group of Western-trained administrators, managers and technocrats; finally, the economy has been completely transformed by the structural-adjustment program implemented after I 983. Yet, instead of weakening the monarchy, as one might have expected, these changes appear to have produced the opposite. Particularly noteworthy was the rejuvenation of the practice of royal arbitration during the first half of the 1990s. This and other trends suggest that the monarchical institution is neither inherently opposed to, nor incompatible with, the principle and necessities of political modernity.
This article also pointed to the paradoxical role of royal arbitration in allowing democratic change to take place. The move toward a more democratic, participatory and accountable form of government - one that tolerates an expanded role for civil society and is better capable of satisfying part of its demands - may even be predicated on the system's ability to resort to royal arbitration. In part, this is because royal arbitration becomes the only mechanism available to settle potentially polarizing issues on which there is considerable disagreement within civil society or between civil society and the state. Similarly, the authority and legitimacy of the king were instrumental in making possible such significant steps toward democracy as the 1992 constitution and the 1996 constitutional amendment.
Ironically, therefore, further democratization in Morocco may depend, for a while at least, on the occasional resort to nondemocratic ways of exercising authority. Conversely, as the strategy of political dualism suggests, the monarchy may have realized that it can remain the dominant political actor only if it carries out genuine democratic reforms. In short, royal arbitration and other practices that are designed to assert the monarchy's political supremacy have paradoxical effects on prospects for democratization in Morocco. On the negative side, they water down or dilute the impact of the reforms that civil society extracts from the state. On the positive side, however, they may be enabling the country to avoid the instability and violence that polities engaged in democratic transitions often endure. Whether the strategy of political dualism will enable the monarchy to ride the twin processes of modernization and democratization, as it is intended to do, remains to be seen. What appears certain, however, is that the monarchy will not easily be written off.
1 For instance, land that had been owned by the French but which fell into the hands of the state at independence was often sold for a token price to rural notables, army officers and high government officials, as a way of ensuring the loyalty of these elites to the throne. Similarly, during the so-called Moroccanization campaign of 1973-74, foreign-owned enterprises were nationalized and then made available to Moroccan private entrepreneurs and members of the administrative elite. At about the same time, the boom in phosphate prices enabled the regime to increase public expenditures to develop social sectors, expand government employment and support food prices.
2 One reason for this phenomenon is that a broad national consensus now exists regarding the legitimacy of the monarchy and its central role in the political system. By contrast, in the 1960s and early 1970s, the institution of the monarchy was severely contested.
3 Members of the lower house are elected for five-year terms. Members of the upper house are elected for nine years, with one-third of them up for reelection every third year. Three-fifths of the members of the upper house are elected by communal, municipal and regional councils, and two-fifths by professional organizations and labor unions.
4 In the past, commissions of investigation had been formed (one was established for instance to look into the December 1990 riots in Fez), but always at the initiative of the king.
5 Between 1984 and 1992, for instance, approximately 16 percent of all oral questions (about 381 out of 2,775) had been left without answers. The proportion of unanswered questions was as high as 90 percent for questions addressed to the Ministry of Interior and Information, which presumably were on the more sensitive subjects (civil liberties, human rights and governmental control over information). Furthermore, even when questions were answered, the answer sometimes came months - and in some instances a couple of years - after the question had been asked. See Mustafa Sehimi, "Parlement: L'Analyse du Deficit Legislatif," L'Economiste (Casablanca), May 4, 1995, p. 47.
6 Significantly, right after the adoption of the 1992 constitution, the fall 1993 and spring and fall 1994 sessions of Parliament witnessed a significant increase in the number of oral questions. Even more revealing is the fact that the government provided answers to most of these questions. Indeed, in a speech delivered to the opening session of the spring 1995 legislative session, Parliament president Jalal Essaid stressed his satisfaction at the fact that, during the preceding eighteen months, the government had answered 298 questions out of343. See Mustapha Sehimi, op. cit.
7 The 1996 constitutional amendment specifies that only the Chamber of Representatives is entitled to conduct a vote of investiture of the cabinet after the latter has presented its program to Parliament.
8 By contrast, Parliament may only pass laws in certain areas, which are specifically described in Article 45 of the new constitution. All other areas lie beyond the Chamber's authority. Should the government claim that a particular law passed by Parliament is actually outside the legislature's domain, the issue is supposed to be settled by the Constitutional Council.
9 It is hard to imagine that Parliament would stand up to the king in this fashion, the more so since the newly created Chamber of Councilors is bound to have a more conservative bent than the Chamber of Deputies. '"Under the current king at least, a referendum will always go the way the Palace wishes for two reasons: because of the monarch's unmatched ability to sway public opinion, and, more fundamentally, because he would not tolerate a result which suggested that his people have not followed his recommendation. For an illustration, see the discussion of the ratification of the 1992 constitution in the next section.
11 Before French colonization, the bled siba, or "land of dissidence," referred to those areas and tribes that did not recognize the authority of the Moroccan sultan and refused to pay taxes.
12 See Francois Soudan, "Lavoie royale," Jeune Afrique, No. 1654 (17-23 September 1992), pp. 20-23.
13 The Mouvement Populaire received 33 seats, the Rassemblement National des Independants 28, the Union Constitutionnelle 27 and the Parti National Democratique and Mouvement National Populaire 14 each.
14 He returned to Morocco in June 1995.
15 Figures released by Morocco's Interior Ministry indicated that 99.6 percent (I 0.2 million people) voted to support the constitutional amendment. Turnout was 67 percent of eligible voters.
16 As discussed above, the indirect election of one-third of the members of the Chamber of Representatives used to work against the parties of the left.
17 Morocco is only the third country in the world to endow its upper house with the power to force the cabinet to resign through a vote of no-confidence (the other two countries are Italy and South Africa). To bring down the government, however, the Chamber of Councilors needs a two-thirds majority, whereas the Chamber of Representatives only needs a 50 percent majority. Both chambers can censure the cabinet only once every twelve months.
18 Before it can be sent to the king for promulgation, a law must be adopted in identical terms by both chambers.
19 In that case, a majority of two-thirds of its members is required to initiate a meeting of the council.
20 See Zakya Daoud, Feminisme et politique au Maghreb: Soixante ans de lutte (Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 1994), pp. 313-332.
21 The following account relies heavily on M. al-Ahnaf, 11 Maroc: Le Code du statut personnel, 11 Maghreb Machrek, No. 145 (July-September 1994), pp. 9-21.
22 The Constitutional Union (UC), the National Rally of Independents (RNI), the lstiqlal, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), the Popular Movement (MP), the National Democratic Party (PND), the Popular National Movement (MNP), the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS), and the National Union of Popular Forces (UNFP).
23 Nezha Alaoui, the only representative of the UAF who had been received by the king on September 29, 1992, was not invited on May I, 1993. See M. al-Ahnaf, op. cit.
24 The best-known example of this divide-and-rule policy was the famous Berber Dahir of 1930.
25 See Ahmed Ghazali, "Contribution a l'analyse du phenomene associatif au Maroc," in Michel Camau, ed., Changements Politiques au Maghreb (Paris: Editions du CNRS, 1991), pp. 256-257.
26 See Joel Donnet, "Renaissance berbere au Maroc," le Monde Diplomatique, January 1995, p. 18.
27 Joel Donnet, op. cit.
28 All of them benefited from the royal amnesty a few weeks later.
29 "Minority rights" may be a misnomer here, to the extent that the Berber community may now represent close to half of Morocco's population.
30 For the text of the speech, see for instance Maroc Soir, August 22, 1994, p. 3.
31 Dahir No. 1-90-190, dated February 20, 1991, creating the CNJA. Article 2 of the dahir was more specific: "The Council's mission is to help adjust the country's educational and professional training structures to the needs of its economy, to assist in preparing the future of young Moroccans and to facilitate their integration into the national productive system. In order to do so, the Council must gather quantitative and qualitative data about the labor market, collect information regarding the national and regional economies, analyze untapped development potential, study the extent to which the curricula in schools and professional training establishments are adapted to the qualifications required by the labor market, and propose sets of incentives and structural reforms capable of resulting in job creation.11
32 Article 3 of the dahir creating the CNJA states that the council is made up of the following individuals: all members of the government; the presidents of parliamentary commissions; the presidents of the regional assemblies and prefectoral and provincial councils; representatives of the professional chambers, General Confederation of Moroccan Employers (CGEM), trade unions, and youth and student associations; representatives of universities and other institutions of higher learning; representatives of professional training establishments; and "personalities appointed because of their competence in matters of professional training and human resources management." Except for the members of the government, the presidents of parliamentary commissions, and the presidents of regional assemblies and prefectoral and provincial councils, all members are appointed by royal dahirs.
33 In December 1990 the Democratic Confederation of Labor (Confederation Democratique du Travail, CDT) and the General Union of Moroccan Workers (Union Generate des Travailleurs Marocains, UGTM) organized a successful general strike. Labor unrest continued throughout 1991 and 1992, and in February 1993 trade unions sponsored major strikes among railway workers, Royal Air Marne employees, school teachers and university professors. In the late spring and early summer of 1995, the country was rocked by a wave of strikes that paralyzed entire segments of the economy, especially railroads, banks and the phosphates industry.
34 They include the prime minister and those in charge of the following ministries: Interior; Justice; Finance and Investments; Employment and Social Affairs; Trade, Industry, Handicrafts and Foreign Trade; Agriculture; Administrative Affairs; Economic Development; Human Rights; and Moroccan Communities Abroad.