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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.


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قراءة في عربي

Political Context

In early 2011, widespread protests calling for greater power sharing and an end to corruption swept Morocco, sparked by a nascent grassroots coalition called the February 20th Movement. In response, King Mohammed VI announced a reform process that culminated in a revised constitution, which was approved by referendum in July 2011. While the new constitution expands the power of the parliament and makes important commitments to gender parity in government, the monarchy still controls the key levers of power. While previous reforms have traditionally been driven by the palace, the 2011 protests represented the first time that substantial reforms had been spurred by citizens themselves.

The revised constitution led to early parliamentary elections in November 2011,  bringing to power a new governing coalition led by the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), Party Istiqlal (PI), the Popular Movement, and the Party of Progress and Socialism. In mid-2013, disputes over economic policy and cabinet appointments caused PI to withdraw from the governing coalition and led to protracted negotiations between PJD and the National Rally of Independents (RNI) to fill the vacated ministry positions. RNI eventually joined the coalition in return for a revamped government structure, resulting in the loss of several key cabinet positions for the PJD. More recently, the PJD-led government has encountered resistance from trade unions and government employees for proposed revisions to pensions and the retirement age. Youth continue to agitate for greater access to quality education and employment, and in recent high profile speeches, the King has criticized parties and parliament for failing to promote broad-based growth and offer constructive policy solutions for citizens’ priority issues.

In May 2014, the government announced that municipal elections are planned for the summer of 2015. The upcoming poll has revived debate over the country’s electoral framework, which can be improved in a number of areas. These include a districting system that skews representation, a national list for women and youth that limits them to a single term, the lack of an independent election commission, no mechanism for formal acceptance and accreditation of election observers, and inconsistent or delayed access to vote tabulation and election results.

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NDI Programs

NDI has helped its partners to strengthen democratic institutions in Morocco since 1997, with programs that improve the responsiveness of political parties and members of parliament (MPs) to citizen needs, strengthen electoral processes, encourage citizen engagement in government, and expand political participation for women and youth.

Political Party Assistance

Building on 15 years of experience, NDI is supporting Moroccan political parties from 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 on 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 established youth wings and took  steps to engage youth more directly in the political process. Currently, NDI is helping parties develop strategies to engage citizens at the local level and integrate citizen input into their policy development. This will assist parties in developing issue-based campaign messages that resonate with voters ahead of municipal elections in 2015 and parliamentary elections in 2016.

Parliamentary Support

Over the last decade, NDI 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.

NDI is currently partnering with the Moroccan House of Representatives on a pilot initiative to help MPs run local constituency offices. NDI trained 14 MPs and their staff on running a constituency office, managing constituent casework, and organizing local outreach events. This initiative promotes improved service delivery and the development of policies that more directly respond to citizens’ concerns and interests. Since the offices opened in January 2014, they have received more than 10,000 visitors and 4,600 cases, more than a third of which have been resolved. Over this same period, participating MPs have held 472 local events to engage citizens and raised 277 questions in parliament related to the concerns directly expressed to them by citizens during these events.


Ahead of the 2007 legislative elections, NDI supported the first formal observation efforts by Moroccan civic groups and organized the first-ever international observation mission in the country. The Institute also assisted the 2007 Daba coalition to lead voter education efforts across Morocco to inform citizens about the electoral process.

Ahead of Morocco’s early legislative elections in 2011, NDI supported a nationwide coalition of Moroccan civic groups to deploy nearly 3,000 monitors on election day and conduct 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, assisted the government commission tasked with accrediting observers, and fielded a 45-member international observation delegation to monitor the periods before, during and after election day.

In anticipation of the 2015 municipal elections and 2016 legislative elections, NDI is supporting efforts to reform the electoral framework and monitor the electoral process with trained nonpartisan citizen observers and political party pollwatchers. In September 2014, NDI held a forum for representatives of political parties, civil society and government to identify common priorities for reforming the electoral framework. Participants from the forum divided into three working groups to develop recommendations for each priority reform. Moving forward, the Institute will support civil society organizations (CSOs) in advocating for particular reforms by providing them with training, coaching and small grants.

NDI will also work with the Collectif Associatif pour l’Observation des Elections, a coalition of CSOs, to develop a plan for observing the upcoming municipal and legislative elections. The Institute will help the Collectif  develop and implement a cascade training scheme, whereby a select group of master trainers on domestic election observation fan out across the country to train a larger cohort of citizen observers. NDI will follow a similar approach in training and assisting political parties to deploy party pollwatchers across the country for the two election cycles.

Women's Political Participation

NDI continues to support the efforts of women 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, 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 successfully advocated for 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 convened women’s groups 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 parliamentary seats in 2011.

In 2013, NDI assessed the role of women in decision- and policy-making within Morocco’s eight leading political parties and is now working with parties to develop strategies to better engage women in these processes. Ahead of the municipal elections in 2015, the Institute is working with political party and civil society partners to identify potential women candidates and support their efforts to secure party nominations in competitive districts.

Youth Participation

The February 20th Movement in 2011 underscored the potential of youth engagement to shape the political process. Several months after the November 2011 legislative elections, NDI conducted a series of focus groups with Moroccan youth to measure the degree to which they believed policymakers had answered their calls for reform with concrete policies. The focus groups revealed an underlying sense of hope mixed with a strong desire to see political leaders propose and enact solutions for employment and education challenges. Ahead of the elections, NDI also assisted the Youth for Youth Association (Association Jeunes Pour Jeunes, AJJ) to monitor the campaign promises of 12 political parties. AJJ distributed its report to more than 2,900 young Moroccans.

As protests have lessened, NDI continues to support young people to 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 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 assessed the degree of youth participation in the decision- and policy-making processes of Morocco’s eight leading political parties. NDI shared findings with party leaders and has begun assisting them to develop strategies that would enable them to more effectively and proactively engage youth members and young citizens. Ahead of the upcoming municipal and legislative elections, the Institute will assist aspiring youth candidates to gain nominations from their parties and conduct effective campaigns.


NDI’s programs in Morocco are supported by the United States Agency for International Development and the United Kingdom’s Foreign Commonwealth Office.

Contact Information

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

Washington, D.C.
Lila Jaafar, Senior Program Manager
(202) 728-5529

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Resource: Press Room
Blog entry
Blog entry: NDI in the News
Blog entry
Blog entry: NDI in the News
News and Views
07/01/2011 | The New York Times
News and Views:
Resource: Press Room
Published Publication Title Author
09/07/2016 Citizens Express Their Priorities: Moroccan Citizens’ Views and Preferences Ahead of the 2016 Parliamentary Elections
Focus Group Report
National Democratic Institute
04/14/2016 Getting Closer to Citizens: A Manual on Outreach for Elected Officials
National Democratic Institute
11/01/2015 Moving Closer to Constituents​: Citizen Perceptions of the 2015 Local and Regional Elections
Public Opinion Research
National Democratic Institute
03/01/2015 Issues of Concern: Citizen Perspectives on Party Policy Solutions, Morocco, March 2015
Focus Group Research
National Democratic Institute
11/11/2014 Morocco Constituency Outreach Newsletter, September to November '14
National Democratic Institute
08/10/2014 Morocco Constituency Outreach Newsletter, June to August '14
National Democratic Institute
03/06/2014 Equal Access: How to Include Persons with Disabilities in Elections and Political Processes
National Democratic Institute, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
10/23/2013 Increasing Women’s Political Participation Through Effective Training Programs: A Guide to Best Practices and Lessons Learned
Training Manual
National Democratic Institute
05/08/2013 Campaign Skills Handbook - Middle East and North Africa Regional Campaign Schools
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
National Democratic Institute
04/03/2012 Declaration of Global Principles for Nonpartisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations and Code of Conduct for Nonpartisan Citizen Election Observers and Monitors
11/26/2011 Preliminary Election Statement of the NDI International Observation Delegation to Morocco
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
10/31/2011 Empowering Women for Stronger Political Parties: A Good Practices Guide to Promote Women's Political Participation (Now available in Burmese)
Julie Ballington
10/26/2011 Statement of the International Pre-Election Assessment Delegation to Morocco's 2011 Legislative Elections
National Democratic Institute
09/01/2010 Confidence, Capacity, Connections: A Young Woman's Guide to Leadership (Now available in Chinese)
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
Ken Wollack
12/01/2008 NDI Reports: A Review of the Activities of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs
National Democratic Institute