Young Moroccans love their country. Here’s why they’re leaving.

Hassine grins as he lists Morocco’s many positives: a tolerant society, diverse ethnicities and religions living together in harmony, state-of-the-art infrastructure, a modern constitution, and a monarchy once hailed as an exception for pushing through political reforms.

So why are so many young Moroccans like Hassine desperate to emigrate abroad?

As many in the kingdom are finding, limited democracy and political openness alone do not guarantee solutions to some long-standing societal problems. And political parties are learning that governing and reaching consensus are not as easy as pushing for reforms.

“We love our country, and many of us believe that in the long run it will be on the right path,” says Hassine, 27, as he sells a phone card from his roadside Casablanca kiosk. “But the reality right now is, if you want a degree or a job, you got to get out to have a future.”

Indeed Hassine, who asked that his full name not be used, says he has accepted a job as an engineer in France and is set to leave soon.

Many Moroccans say political parties have left them behind as they jockey for seats, influence, and ministerial portfolios. Others claim that political appointees and local governments lack experience.

“You talk to these local elected officials about urgent issues facing the community, and they look like they don’t even understand a word,” says a former official turned activist, who declined to use his name. “It feels as if you are speaking to the mailman rather than the mayor.”

But analysts believe that the failures of political parties have exposed the limitations of the much-hailed royal reforms.

“The average Moroccan citizen today has limited expectations of these parties because it is widely understood that they are not in charge, nor do they hold the majority of the power,” says Yasmina Abouzzohour, a Brookings fellow, in an email. “It is widely believed that only the monarchy itself can bring about real change, be it political or economic.”


Youth exodus

The uneasy situation has spurred a youth exodus. Over 22,000 young Moroccans went abroad for work in 2018, according to government statistics; it is believed that the number who have migrated illegally is much higher.

France, Spain, Ukraine, Chile, China – there is no place too far for young Moroccans to go.

“We just want a chance to study and work so we can one day start a family and prepare a better future for our own children,” says Youssef, a recent college graduate.

In the 2019 Arab Barometer survey, a research project that seeks to provide reliable data on Arab world attitudes, 70% of Moroccans ages 18 to 29 expressed a desire to emigrate – the highest of any country in a list that included war-torn Yemen.

“When we go to sleep, we all share one dream: to emigrate and start fresh somewhere else,” says Youssef, who works in a hair salon in Casablanca….

Read full article at CS Monitor