The Major Projects
Mr. Abderrahim El Maslouhi
Professor of Constitutional Law and Political Science at Mohammed V University in Rabat

The virtuous circle and democratic consolidation

Transitology, study of democratic transitions, is a Cartesian science: you reap what you sow. Hence specialists' propensity to divide the democratic process into three cumulative sequences: 1/ liberalisation, which involves the political and economic opening of a regime, anchoring it to rule of law and market economy; 2/ democratisation in the strict word meaning, brought into being by constitutional charter's far-reaching revision and founding elections' organisation, usually ending in victory for the opposition; 3/ consolidation, consisting of capitalising on the attainments of the fist two sequences by shaping them into sectorial reforms on which are based sustainable conditions for democratic normality and social justice.

As it is clear to see, this sequential schema could not be truest in the case of Morocco - somuch so that informed observers have remarked that the Kingdom did not experience the"Arab spring" so much as simply anticipate it. The liberalisation sequence inaugurated in the 1990s, announced democratic construction beginnings, once underway, and took on real substance during the new reign, fostering proactive sector-specifi reforms and structuring projects which are beginning to bear fruit. At the crucial turning-point of the "Arab spring", Morocco provided itself with a new constitutional charter and held legislative elections which, at the very least, reformed the political pact. Constitution's Operationalization was an act of consolidation excellence: legislative projects' scope added to the agenda, joint and participative initiatives' integration and the fresh momentum given to public policies' governance all presage the Kingdom's ability to bring the democratisation process to a successful conclusion.

Without being led astray by triumphal or excessive optimism, Morocco should therefore be provided with powerful levers to navigate surrounding zones of turbulence, while neighbouring countries that still seem to besunk in inaction and hesitate between massive repression and deferment of reforms. There are some battles yet to be won, it is true. Poor governance in certain public sectors risk prejudicing this "virtuous circle's" dynamic. Reforms bearing on judiciary governance, advanced regionalisation, offiial bilingualism and numbers of other public life sectors have hardly begun. In the same respect, implementation of the new constitution presents challenges and has its own risks.

Managing a country and its public policies under a set of new and previously untried standards is inevitably accompanied by uncertainties. Imprecision of a number of constitutional standards, low capacity for appropriation on the part of many actors concerned, conflcts of values or interests in implementation of various structuring projects, constraints weighing on the upgrading of government bodies and the sluggishness of the economic context are amongst parameters likely to slow down the pace and raise the cost of democratic consolidation. When it comes down to it, structuring reforms are initiated to bear fruit in the long term.

The Kingdom's contextual assets and comparative advantages with regards to its Arab neighbours are nonetheless sizeable. First of all, there is the continued national consensus regarding the monarchy, a federating power able to catalyse national synergies and so remove the violent, chaotic and radical aspects of political competition that have come to characterise many countries in the region. Morocco may be regarded as a "society of consensus", where divisions tend to be expressed over choices of general policy rather than over the nature of the regime itself - an advantage clearly lacking in the majority of "Arab spring" countries, where national debate tends to polarise around national community's existential question on survival.

Armed forces apolitical character is a second advantage. Wisely confied in its duties to national defence and humanitarian action, Moroccan army plays no political part in conducing affairs of state, which are entrusted to civil institutions. A democratisation sign on an international level - true democracies being typifid by their armies' submission to civil power, depoliticisation of military power avoids confrontations between civil movements and armed forces, thus reducing political transition's security costs.

The third comparative advantage relates to the preventive treatment of isolationism. In contrast to many of the region's countries, where ethnolingusitic or religious divisions raise serious questions in terms of national unity,Morocco's introduction of policies that take cultural, linguistic and territorial specifiities into account, and constitutional inscription and highlight on principles of pluralism and cultural diversity have distanced the Kingdom from the spiral of community and identity violence.

A final, fourth advantage –by no means the least important - has to do with international confience and country-risk indicators. Despite signs of economic stagnation, the Kingdom's international partners, along with investors and fiancial rating agencies, continue to feel confient about nation's potential for economic recovery and, above all, of State and companies ability to honour commitments. In the jargon of international rating agencies, being classifid A4 means that there may be fragility in the country's economic and fiancial situation, but payment risks remain sustainable. According to Coface, a world leader in fiancial rating, such sustainability is largely linked to underlying diversifiation of production, macroeconomic stabilisation policy and, above all, positive constitutional reforms knock-on effects. "It takes inspiration to give birth to a project and determination to achieve it", Chateaubriand tells us in hisMémoires d'Outre-Tombe. A maxim worthy of a country in transition which is seeking to reinvent itself. The Monitor of Major Projects has the merit to shed light on the process, for us all.