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Morocco: The Promise of Democracy and the Reality of Authoritarianism


The survival of the Moroccan monarchy amidst the wave of protests that characterised the Arab uprisings did not come as a surprise to observers of the Kingdom. Despite the size of the protests in February 2011, demonstrators never demanded the fall of the monarchy and the king was never in danger of being dethroned. Once the King reclaimed political leadership through the launch of a constitutional reform, the protest movement faded and whatever challenge to the pre-eminence of the monarchy might have existed ended quickly. A number of explanations have been advanced for the survival of authoritarianism in Morocco, but they generally rehash conventional wisdoms about Moroccan politics that might no longer be as valid as they were in past. Less obvious factors, ranging from repressive practices to ‘de-politicisation through technocracy’ and from the complex impact of neo-liberal economics on social relations to divisions within the opposition, contributed to the survival of the monarchy.
Keywords: Morocco’s domestic policy; authoritarianism; democracy; Arab Spring

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