Demobilising the February 20 Movement in Morocco: regime strategies during the Arab Spring

The case of the February 20 Movement (F20) during the Arab Spring in Morocco demonstrates that when social movements face an existential crisis, they focus on maintaining relevance and resonance with the public. In this stage, movements typically experiment with prognostic frames to test resonance with the public and state reactions; however, F20 was not united in how to best resonate with the public. This resulted in a variance of prognostic frames ranging from reformist to revolutionary. The divide between what activists characterise as reformist-monarchists and revolutionary-republicans became more visible following King Mohammed IV’s speech on March 9, 2011 and especially leading up to the King’s second major announcement concerning the new constitution in June 2011. F20’s message became inconsistent and less relevant when the King systematically responded to demands with reforms. Moreover, F20 became viewed increasingly incompatible with Moroccans as the movement’s image became framed as extreme and composed of fringe groups that hoped for radical/revolutionary change. This paper demonstrates that changes in the political environment interact with social movement framing processes that may lead to their decline. A secondary finding of this paper is that repression along with smear campaigns against F20 further divided the movement.

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