Moroccan Constitutional Referendum, 2011
This referendum was approved with 98 percent of those who voted approving the changes.
This measure sought to reform the Moroccan state constitution. The King of Morocco submitted proposed changes to the constitution, including separating powers in the government, equal rights for men and women, judicial independence and regionalisation. These proposed changes will help lead Morocco into further reforms and modernization which has been a long term goal in the country.
Of the 13 million registered voters in the country, 9 million cast their votes in the election. The European Union noted praise for the referendum vote, that it was a peaceful election and showed the democratic abilities of the country. Also commenting that the path to implementing the proposed changes now needs to be followed with citizens remaining in the process. Minor claims of voter fraud and boycotts were reported during the election, but nothing significant to leave the vote in question. Some noted that protests will not cease because many of those who protested for reforms were a part of the boycotts and still seek more democratic changes in the country.
A list of the reforms that had been proposed included, the king will be required to select a prime minister from the party that wins the most seats in parliament, before he was able to choose anyone he wanted to be the Prime Minister. In the Moroccan constitution, any reference to the king as "sacred" will be removed, but he will remain "inviolable." The King will no longer be the head of the government, the prime minister will be and will obtain the power to dissolve the lower house of parliament. The prime minister will preside over the Government Council, which will prepare policy before presenting it to the cabinet. Parliament will have more oversight of civil rights, electoral and nationality issues. Women will be guaranteed "civic and social" equality with men, before they were only allowed "political" equality. The Berber language will become an official state language along with Arabic. In addition, the King will also be in control of the security and foreign policy of the country.
With the recognition of the Berber language, it will be the first time an African nation has granted official status to a native language. It is estimated that 8.4 of Morocco's 31.5 million citizens speak some form of Berber.
In support of the proposed reforms, demonstrators had taken to the streets weekly. Though clashes between those opposed to the reforms had also occurred. Official political parties in the country had all come out in support of the reforms. Though the Unified Socialist Party had noted that there have been misuses of Mosques by giving sermons to support the reforms. Both the current UN Secretary General and the Arab Leagues's outgoing secretary general supported the reforms as important steps in further democratic changes. The head of the European Union also supported the reforms stating that it was in clear support for further commitments to democracy and human rights in the country. The US Secretary of State noted that the King's reforms place a good model for other countries in the area.
International expects expected that the reforms will be approved as the campaign preceding the election was nearly entirely focused on the 'Yes' side. Demonstrations were also held on Sunday, June 26 in support of the reforms.
Those oppose noted that the reforms do not go far enough and still leave the King in absolute power as he already is. It was also noted that the proposed reforms were made by the King and his elected advisers, not giving the public any means to voice their input. Representatives from political parties, labor unions and non-government organizations were consulted by the King and advisers but they were not allowed to discuss the proposed changes or offer input. Also that the King will maintain control over religion, international relations and security leaves the King still with absolute power. The Islamist Justice and Charity group has called for a boycott of the election rather than just casting a 'no' vote; noting that the reforms were not made in a democratic manner and the country will still be faced with demonstrations in protest of the vote.
On the wave of revolutionary protesting that erupted in the area in Tunisia and Egypt, Moroccan demonstrators also took to the streets demanding reforms in their government both political and social. The King commented on the protests and vowed change, but protests continued leading to a committee which was set up to advise on constitutional changes to lean towards shifting power away from the King. The King then stated that he would indeed back the changes and allow for a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. Allowing for these changes to be voted on July 1. The King has been cited as more of a reformer than his father, but protesters note that his reforms have not gone far enough and that human rights violations are still being conducted.
- Morroboard News Service, "MOROCCO: A FIRST READING OF THE REFERENDUM RESULTS," July 3, 2011
- Kuwait News Agency, "EU welcomes constitution referendum in Morocco," June 19, 2011
- Kuwait News Agency, "EU applauds outcome of Morocco referendum," July 2, 2011
- Los Angeles Times, "Moroccan voters approve constitutional changes," July 2, 2011
- BBC News, "Q&A: Morocco's referendum on reform," June 29, 2011
- Associated Foreign Press, "Morocco heads for vote on curbing king's powers," June 30, 2011 (dead link)
- The Media Line, "Moroccan voters asked to approve reforms," June 30, 2011