Progress and missed opportunities: Morocco enters its third decade under King Mohammed VI

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI will celebrate 21 years on the throne in July 2020. Over the last two decades, the king has spearheaded positive civil and political reforms, as well as formidable foreign policy and infrastructural changes. Most recently, the regime took swift and effective measures to control the initial spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. Yet, deeply rooted socioeconomic and political challenges have fueled growing popular disillusionment with the regime and triggered numerous strikes and protests in recent years. Two decades on, regret and missed opportunities are multiplying, as Moroccans look back on the reign of a monarch many had hoped would bring about deep political reform and eradicate social inequality.

This policy briefing closely evaluates the major achievements and challenges that came out of Morocco’s first two decades under King Mohammed VI. First, it overviews the noteworthy foreign policy achievements, large-scale infrastructural developments, important civil reforms, and limited political transformation undertaken by the monarch. Second, it examines the lack of deep political reform and socioeconomic growth that continues to plague the kingdom. Finally, it contends that the regime should preemptively introduce genuine and targeted reforms in order to improve political and socioeconomic conditions and prevent popular discontent from boiling over into violence.

Key Recommendations:

  • Promote genuine political change: The Moroccan regime should bring about concrete political opening by minimizing interference in government affairs and by effectively dividing tasks between the monarchy and the government.
  • Reduce social inequality for vulnerable groups: The regime should raise funds (by reforming the taxation system) to improve the living conditions of rural populations and to enhance education and welfare for vulnerable groups.


In 2019, the Arab Barometer found that 70 percent of Moroccans between the ages of 18 and 29 had thought about emigrating,[1] while 49 percent supported rapid political change on the domestic front — the latter percentage being the highest of all Arab countries polled.[2] Such figures — along with chronic protests, a countrywide boycott, critical chants and rap songs, and expressions of discontent on social media — point to an increasing sense of popular disillusionment with the regime. The growing frustration of a wide group of Moroccans comes at an interesting time in the country’s political history. King Mohammed VI will celebrate 21 years on the throne on July 30, 2020 — in the midst of a pandemic that has pushed the country into mandatory lockdown, left many without wages, and led to a reported rise in police violence.[3]

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