In July of 2011 a referendum on constitutional reforms was held in Morocco. This referendum was held in response to a series of peaceful protests that have been going on in Morocco since the previous February. Many of these protests were organized by the Moroccan Student Youth Movement because of frustrations with corrupt politicians, poor life conditions including high illiteracy rates, a wide gap between the rich and poor, healthcare failure, and the absence of real elections. The Moroccan Student Youth Movement has used popular social networking sites such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook to publicize their message. They were inspired by protests going on in other North African countries with similar motives.
In March of 2011, King Mohammad VI put together a committee of legal scholars to draft up constitutional reforms. A draft was released in June and then elections to vote on full reforms were held on November 25, 2011. Under the constitutional reforms, King Mohammad VI surrenders some power to the parliament and the prime minister but retained key powers as head of the army and the highest religious authority. The constitutional reforms turned a 400 year old monarchy into a constitutional monarchy. In his landmark speech the King declared,
The constitution is quite important and is quite precious and is base for the development and democratic way in Morocco. It’s a contract, a new contract between the monarchy and the people.
Voting statistics from constiutional reforms in Morocco
The following are key points from the constitutional reforms that took affect July 1, 2011:
Amazigh language becomes an official state language along with Arabic
The state will preserves and protects the Hassaniya language
The King has the obligation to appoint a prime minister from the party that wins the most seats in the parliamentary elections
King is no longer viewed as sacred but the “integrity of his person” is inviolable
High administrative posts and diplomatic posts are now appointed by the prime minister along with the ministerial council which is presided by the king
The prime minister will preside over the council of Government, and has the power to dissolve parliament
The judiciary system is independent from the legislative and executive branch
Woman are guaranteed “civic” and “social” equality with men
The constitutional reforms functioned to shift power away from the King and form a more democratic government system in Morocco. After the constitutional reforms the king still has complete control of the armed forces, foreign policy, the judiciary system, the election of prime ministers and all matters pertaining to religion. This has led Moroccans to call for continued reform.