Political Participation of Islamist Actors…


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In Morocco

Participation of Islamists in the formal political process had taken two different forms prior to the Arab Spring. One was their de facto acceptance and limited accommodation by authoritarian regimes, as was the case in Egypt by allowing independent MPs from within the Muslim Brotherhood. The other was inclusion in the form of legal political parties, as in Morocco and Jordan, albeit with restricted electoral terms. Since 1996, one group among the Moroccan Islamist groups, namely al-Tajdid wal-Islah (Reform and Renewal), has become an integral part of the parliament, first as an opposition party (MPDC/PJD) and later as a ruling party (PJD) since November 2011. In contrast to single-party rule elsewhere in the Middle East, a multi-party system has been the choice of the monarchy as the ultimate decision making body in Morocco. While this system was more democratic on its face, successive governments were composed of palace loyalist parties, which came to power through rigged elections up until the 1990s. The monarchy utilized a highly diverse political strategy, including the following measures: 1) repress the opposition movements and deny their legalization, 2) divide the strong opposition parties by favoring certain factions over others, 3) create new pro-palace parties, and 4) co-opt the opposition parties into the system. As the parties became debilitated due to infighting or failing to find solutions to the country’s ongoing problems, the king presented himself as the “ultimate problem-solver” and prevailed as the neutral entity. Thus, multi-party politics upheld the political stature of the king instead of diminishing it.

By Feriha Perekli

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