Morocco | Freedom House

Freedom in the World

Freedom in the World 2017



Freedom Status: 
Partly Free

Freedom in the World Scores

(1=Most Free, 7=Least Free)

Quick Facts

Press Freedom Status: 
Not Free
Net Freedom Status: 
Partly Free

Morocco holds regular multiparty elections for Parliament, and reforms in 2011 formally shifted some power over government from the monarchy to the elected legislature. Nevertheless, King Mohammed VI maintains dominance through a combination of substantial formal powers and informal lines of influence in the state and society, including his control over security forces, religious authority, and strong appeals to nationalism.

Key Developments: 
  • Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane’s Party of Justice and Development (PJD), a moderate Islamist group, retained its plurality in October parliamentary elections, outpolling its main rival, the royalist Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM). The PJD was expected to lead a new coalition government, which had yet to be formed at year’s end.
  • Nationwide protests against abuse of power erupted in late October after a fish vendor was crushed to death in a garbage truck during a confrontation with police; images of the incident were disseminated on social media.
  • A new press code adopted in July removed imprisonment as a punishment for press offenses, but journalists could still be jailed for similar violations under the penal code.
Executive Summary: 

The ruling PJD maintained its position in October 2016 parliamentary elections, which were the second to be held since 2011 constitutional reforms began requiring that the prime minister be selected from the party with a plurality of seats. Days after the elections, the king asked Prime Minister Benkirane to form a new government, but coalition talks were ongoing at year’s end, slowed in part by disagreement over the inclusion of the nationalist party Istiqlal.

In the run-up to the elections in September, the government announced that it had broken up a terrorist cell linked to the Islamic State (IS) militant group, which was allegedly planning to mount attacks in the north. In October, the government reported that it had arrested 10 women suspected of being IS suicide bombers who intended to strike during the voting.

The government continued to restrict personal freedoms and journalistic coverage of sensitive subjects in 2016, with reporters and activists sometimes facing fines and jail sentences. A large number of protests on various topics proceeded peacefully during the year, though the authorities used violence to disperse demonstrations in some cases.

Explanatory Note: 

The numerical ratings and status listed above do not reflect conditions in Western Sahara, which is examined in a separate report. 

Aggregate Score: 
Freedom Rating: 
Political Rights: 
Civil Liberties: 

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