Home > Democracy, Media > As Moroccans vote on constitution, little discussion of reforms’ weaknesses

As Moroccans vote on constitution, little discussion of reforms’ weaknesses

July 1, 2011

Moroccan King Mohammed’s proposed reforms will be adopted following today’s vote with much fanfare and little analysis of the broad powers he will retain.

By rushing the referendum to the people the King was able to avoid an organized PR or protest campaign against the reforms.  The government launched an aggressive PR campaign of its own, and it certainly has better resources (ie: money, experienced staffers and organizational structure) than any protest movement. It took less than a month for the announcement of reforms to today’s vote — hardly enough time for any opposition movements to form and direct public dialogue.

Moroccan news outlets and various organizations have supported King Mohammed’s proposed constitutional reforms, which were voted on today. BBC and Washington Post have viewed the reforms positively. BBC said it will make Morocco “the first constitutional monarchy in the Arab world.” Truthfully, there’s a lot to like about these reforms, and that has people talking. But there’s been little to no mention of some of the reforms’ problems, which I have discussed here.

I believe the lack of reporting on dissenting opinions is a reflection on the inability to spread information. There was no time to organize or come up with a clear and impacting way to convey the message that the King holds onto enormous power with these reforms.

Chiefly, the King still has power over the military and religious spheres. He also will continue to appoint ambassadors and diplomats, effectively keeping foreign policy under his dominion. He also can dissolve parliament after consulting with a special committee, of which he would have appointed half the members.

The reforms are ultimately a good thing for Morocco, as it gives the prime minister and parliament more power.  News outlets have reported as much. News outlets can only report what they can observe, which was overwhelming support for the reforms. I think, however, that if this vote came in August that there would have been a stronger opposition once more information about the reforms’ weaknesses could be disseminated.

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