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NDI

The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

Morocco

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قراءة في عربي

After assuming the throne in 1999, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI initiated limited measures to liberalize the political process, including specific advances to promote personal freedoms and women's rights. Among these was the 2004 amendment to the Moudawana (Family Code) that awarded women and men equal rights in divorce, inheritance and custody matters.

In early 2011, widespread popular protests calling for greater power sharing and an end to corruption swept Morocco, encouraged by a nascent grassroots coalition called the February 20th Movement. In response, the king announced a reform process that culminated in a revised constitution, which was approved by referendum in July 2011. The new constitution expands the power of the parliament and makes important commitments to gender parity in government, among other positive steps, but ultimately maintains the monarchy’s hold on the key levers of power. Notably, while the revised Moudawana and other previous reforms were prompted by the palace, the 2011 protests represented the first time that Moroccan citizens themselves had spurred such substantial reform.

The revised constitution also led to early elections held in November 2011, which ushered in a new coalition led by the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD). Disputes over economic policy and cabinet appointments eventually caused their leading coalition partner, Party Istiqlal (PI), to withdraw from the government in mid-2013. Following months of negotiations between PJD and the National Rally of Independents (RNI) to fill the newly-vacated ministry positions, RNI agreed to join in return for a revamped government structure. Ultimately, this led to the loss of several key cabinet positions for the PJD. 

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NDI has helped its partners strengthen democratic institutions in Morocco since 1997, with programs that encourage citizen engagement in government, strengthen electoral processes, increase the responsiveness of political parties to citizen needs, support parliament, and expand political participation for women and young people.

Political Party Assistance

Building on 15 years of assistance to Moroccan political parties, NDI is supporting parties from across the political spectrum to more effectively represent citizens and respond to their concerns. In 2013, NDI sponsored strategic planning sessions for individual parties, helping identify internal organizational and communications structures. The Institute is working with parties to streamline communications between the national, regional and local levels, and to integrate new voices into policy development and other internal processes. 

NDI has previously advised Moroccan political parties in a range of organizational improvements, such as switching from paper membership records to computerized databases, creating internal technology training teams, developing protocols for communication with branch offices, and better equipping regional and local offices. Ahead of the 2007 parliamentary and 2009 municipal elections, NDI trained party members to run more effective campaigns, prompting several parties to establish national campaign management teams to improve coordination across the country. With assistance from NDI, several parties also have established youth wings and took concrete steps to engage youth more directly in the political process.

Women's Political Participation

After assisting Moroccan women in their successful campaign to revise the Moudawana in 2004, NDI continues to support women’s efforts to influence the decision-making processes that impact their daily lives. In 2009, in partnership with a women’s rights organization, Union de l’Action Féminine, NDI helped create Women Helping Women (WHW), an informal, multiparty coalition of Moroccan women activists, leaders, members of parliament (MPs) and academics. In less than a year, the group grew from 20 members to more than 1,000 with local networks in more than 20 locations. WHW advocated successfully to secure a quota for locally elected women, pushed parties to adopt internal quotas, held multiparty marches in support of women candidates, and trained more than 1,000 women to run for office. Many of these were among the 3,400 women elected to office in Morocco’s 2009 local elections. In 2011, the Institute brought together women’s organizations and political party women’s wings to discuss coordinated advocacy in advance of constitutional and electoral reforms. Working in collaboration, prominent Moroccan women’s groups successfully lobbied for a national women’s quota, which helped 67 women win seats in parliament in 2011. In 2013, NDI conducted an assessment of the presence and role of women in decision- and policy-making within Morocco’s political parties, and will use the assessment to help parties better engage women in these processes.

Parliamentary Support

NDI previously partnered with the Moroccan parliament to strengthen the institution through staff development, strategic communications and more. Throughout the last decade, the Institute conducted skills development programs for individual legislators and parliamentary groups on topics such as caucus organization, coalition building, constituent outreach, media relations, bill drafting, strategic planning and legislative debate. From 2009 to 2011, NDI also trained and sponsored parliamentary interns from a local university, giving young people the opportunity to engage with legislators and develop political and leadership skills. The Institute previously worked with parliamentarians through a "Mobile Parliament" initiative to give citizens nationwide the opportunity to meet their elected representatives in their communities, providing venues for constituents to share their concerns and priorities with MPs and helping the public understand the parliament’s role.

To expand opportunities for interaction between Moroccan parliamentarians and their constituents, NDI is partnering with the Moroccan House of Representatives on a pilot initiative to help MPs open and run local constituency offices. NDI is supporting the initiative through training for MPs and their staff, helping them to effectively communicate with citizens, offer outreach services, and manage constituent caseloads. By encouraging MPs to embrace their representative role, this initiative promotes improved service delivery and the development of policies that more directly respond to citizens’ concerns and interests.

Elections

NDI works with Moroccans to improve electoral processes in the country. Ahead of 2007 legislative elections, NDI provided logistical and technical support for the first formal observation efforts by Moroccan civic groups, and organized the first-ever international observation mission in Morocco. The Institute also supported the 2007 Daba coalition to lead voter education efforts with a caravan that toured across Morocco to inform citizens about the electoral process. 

Ahead of Morocco’s early legislative elections in 2011, NDI again supported a nationwide coalition of Moroccan civic groups, which deployed nearly 3,000 monitors on election day and conducted an unprecedented media monitoring initiative that tracked election coverage in the Arabic, French and Tamazight language press. The Institute also helped Moroccan organizations advocate for a draft electoral observation law, offered technical assistance to the government commission tasked with accrediting observers, and fielded an international observation delegation that included 45 observers who monitored the pre- and post-election periods and election day.

Youth Participation 

Through the February 20th Movement in 2011, Moroccan youth demonstrated unprecedented engagement in the political process. To measure these changes, NDI conducted a series of focus groups with young people several months before and after Morocco’s November 2011 legislative elections. Findings from both rounds suggested an underlying sense of hope mixed with a strong desire to see political leaders propose and enact concrete solutions for employment and education challenges. NDI also assisted the Youth for Youth Association (Association Jeunes Pour Jeunes, AJJ) to monitor campaign promises of 12 political parties leading up to the elections. AJJ distributed its report on the monitoring initiative to more than 2,900 young Moroccans.

As protests have lessened, NDI continues to engage young people to help them find constructive avenues for engagement in the political process. In 2012, the Institute helped AJJ to begin to monitor parliamentary proceedings and release reports through its site http://obsmap.com/ detailing the legislature’s actions on key issues of concern to young people. In 2013, NDI assisted AJJ to increase the scope of the monitoring initiative beyond the capital to monitor members of parliament in their local constituencies, encouraging greater transparency and accountability. Recently, NDI has also worked to help Moroccan youth organizations to influence the setup and organization of the Council on Youth and Associative Action, a new body mandated under the 2011 constitution. 

In late 2013, NDI will conduct an assessment of Morocco’s eight leading political parties to determine the degree of youth participation in their decision- and policy-making processes. In 2014, NDI will share assessment findings with party leaders and assist them in identifying the steps required to improve the engagement of youth in their work. 

Contact Information

For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:

Washington, D.C.
Vivek Chilukuri, Program Officer
(202) 728-5467

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Blog entry: NDI in the News
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Blog entry: NDI in the News
News and Views
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Published Publication Title Author
01/01/2014 Civic Updates
Civic Update
National Democratic Institute
05/08/2013 Campaign Skills Handbook - Middle East and North Africa Regional Campaign Schools
Handbook
Shannon O'Connell, Samantha Smoot, Sally Abi Khalil
07/02/2012 Youth Perceptions in Morocco: Political Parties in the Wake of Legislative Elections
Focus Group Report
National Democratic Institute
06/18/2012 Final Report on the Moroccan Legislative Elections
Report
National Democratic Institute
11/26/2011 Preliminary Election Statement of the NDI International Observation Delegation to Morocco
Statement
National Democratic Institute
11/20/2011 Youth Perceptions in Morocco: Political Parties and Reforms
Focus Group
National Democratic Institute
11/19/2011 NDI Fields International Observers for Moroccan Parliamentary Elections
Press Release
National Democratic Institute
10/26/2011 Statement of the International Pre-Election Assessment Delegation to Morocco's 2011 Legislative Elections
Statement
National Democratic Institute
09/01/2010 Confidence, Capacity, Connections: A Young Woman's Guide to Leadership (Now available in Chinese)
Manual|Handbook
Gabriella Borovsky, Sarah Cherrabi El Alaoui, Megan Doherty
06/09/2010 Women as Agents of Change: Advancing the Role of Women in Politics and Civil Society
Testimony
Ken Wollack
12/01/2008 NDI Reports: A Review of the Activities of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs
Newsletter
National Democratic Institute
05/15/2008 Final Report on the Moroccan Legislative Elections, September 7, 2007
Report
National Democratic Institute
02/01/2008 Voter Apaty in the September 2007 Moroccan Elections
Report
National Democratic Institute
09/08/2007 2007 Morocco Elections Preliminary Statement
Statement
National Democratic Institute
08/15/2007 2007 Morocco Pre-Election Statement
Statement
National Democratic Institute
12/01/2005 NDI 2005 Annual Report
Report
National Democratic Institute
12/03/1998 Workshop on Coalition Building among Political Parties in the Moroccan Legislature
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute