The Tug-of-war between the Spirit of the Constitution and the Requirements of Society
and Politics in Morocco - October 2023

The Tug-of-war between the Spirit of the Constitution and the Requirements of Society and Politics in Morocco

This article discusses the compatibility of the “aspirations generated” by Morocco’s constitutional text with democratic practices over ten years after its entry into force. It begins with the hypothesis that while a constitution carries in its early stages the seeds for the development of political life and empowerment of its actors, the operationalization of new constitutional concepts and breaking with narrow past readings and populist discourses can only be achieved through practice. The article argues that attributing the 2011 Moroccan constitutional reforms exclusively to one particular actor is a mistaken narrow characterization that must be challenged, as multiple political powers, both official and unofficial and exercising varying degrees of influence within the broad balance of powers in the country, contributed to shaping the constitutional initiatives that were announced. Tangible indicators show that undertaking constitutional reform engages three interlinked dimensions: accretion, anticipation, and consensus. In other words, the fate of democracy is not only determined by historical and structural forces, but is rather a product of national struggles, resilience, negotiation, and choices that must be adhered to by the different actors. As experience indicates, early excitement over constitutional changes had to soon be tampered by the difficulties of enacting change within structurally fragile state institutions and mechanisms.