Freedom in the World
Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Morocco received a downward trend arrow due to the increased concentration of power in the hands of political elites aligned with the monarchy.
The Modernity and Authenticity Party, recently founded by a friend of King Mohamed VI, placed first in the June 2009 local elections, signaling the growing concentration of political power in the hands of the king and his allies. The balloting was accompanied by reports of vote buying and other forms of electoral manipulation. Also during the year, the government and courts continued to batter the independent press with arrests, fines, and jail sentences.
El-Fassi appeared to have fallen out of favor by 2009, as former deputy interior minister Fouad Ali el-Himma, a close associate of the king, organized the Modernity and Authenticity Party (PAM) to contest local elections in June. The new party led the voting with more than 20 percent of local council seats, followed by Istiqlal with about 19 percent. Three other governing parties placed third, fourth, and fifth, leaving the PJD in sixth with less than 6 percent, though it reportedly did well in urban areas. Widespread vote buying, bribery, intimidation, and other forms of manipulation were reported, and analysts regarded the official turnout figure of 52 percent with some skepticism.
Morocco is not an electoral democracy. Most power is held by the king and his close advisers. The monarch can dissolve Parliament, rule by decree, and dismiss or appoint cabinet members. He sets national and foreign policy, commands the armed forces, and presides over the judicial system. One of the king’s constitutional titles is “commander of the faithful,” giving his authority a religious dimension.
Women continue to face a great deal of discrimination at the societal level. However, Moroccan authorities have a more progressive view on gender equality than leaders in many Arab countries. The 2004 family code has been lauded for granting women increased rights in the areas of marriage and child custody, and various other laws aim to protect women’s interests.
The numerical ratings and status listed above do not reflect conditions in Western Sahara, which is examined in a separate report.