Writing the Next Chapters of Morocco and Algeria

Morocco is no stranger to protests, but its situation differs from that of Algeria.

A recent article on the BBC using data from the Arab Barometer survey asked the question, “Could Morocco see the next uprising after Sudan and Algeria?” While it was selective in its choice of data points, for example, attitudes toward religion, the point of the article, which echoes Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s recent messages, is that the government’s programs are not working in terms of equitable distribution of opportunities and economic development. More importantly, many Moroccans, especially the youth, are feeling marginalized and hopeless about their prospects for a decent life.

As one person mentioned, “There is no care here in Morocco for the population. It‘s the lack of care that makes people migrate.” The data reflects this observation. Almost half of Moroccans are considering emigrating. The proportion is up sharply after a decade of decline, the survey indicated. The BBC reports: “About 45% of the population is under 24 and on most issues the country is riven by a generational split. Some 70% of adults under 30 want to emigrate versus 22% of people in their forties. While half of over 60-year-olds have a positive view of the government, the figure for those aged 18-29 is 18%.”

Does this mean that protest marches to overthrow the current government are coming in the near future? A more likely scenario is the article’s conclusion that “Morocco is at a crossroads.” It can reduce corruption, realign its development priorities to focus on building worthwhile jobs and public services, and to open the political space for greater citizen participation. Or it can muddle along, disabling dreams of a better life that reaches into the interior of the country as well as the urban coastal areas, and see if crises threaten the status quo.

Morocco is no stranger to protests. They occur frequently, focused either on specific sectors such as public health workers or teachers, or regional grievances such as those in the Rif region that continue to simmer as the government is still dragging in efforts to promote prosperity and upgrade services in the north. Facing a slower growth rate and a government, including parliament, that prefers to follow than to lead development and reform efforts, prospects for real constructive change are unlikely without a jolt to the body politic…

Read full article here.