Fracturing the political landscape
The parties have therefore begun to fracture, although the divisions are not yet out in the open. For the moment, these are expressed by internal movements with differing views, only occasionally reaching the level of internal conflict, with one side supported either by the deep state or a wing of the regime.
The latter are usually described as the ″pragmatists″: they are looking out for their own interests and don′t wish to clash with the state. Sometimes, they are also called ″technocrats″, particularly if they are from the educated elite who are absorbed into the party by virtue of their educational and technical pedigree, without any background in political activism.
Following the arbitrary and forced ending of the ″alternate government″ experiment in 2002, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces was the first party to fall victim to the regime′s new method of dealing with legitimate parties. Despite the party′s election victory, a large section of the Socialist Union accepted someone who was not from the party′s ranks as prime minister.
A decade and a half on, this same scenario is being repeated today with the Justice and Development Party (JDP), with minor changes dictated by the text of the constitution, namely that the head of government should be from the party that won the elections.
Undermining political parties
The regime has also succeeded in dividing the Muslim Brotherhood within the Justice and Development Party into two factions, to the extent that the two wings can now be talked about openly and not just behind closed doors. One wing is headed by the General Secretary Abdelilah Benkirane (in favour of ongoing reform) and the other by the Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani (in favour of staying in government and holding high political office).
What the Makhsen are trying to ignore, or to play down, if they′ve already acknowledged it, is the slow elimination of those agencies which intermediate between the people at the grassroots and those at the top, or to put it more succinctly, between the public and the royal court.
This is being done by clearing the political field, preventing substantive discourse and undermining the parties in the eyes of the public. The best indicator of the above is the apparent inability of the intermediaries and the political parties to contain the less than 1-year-old Rif Movement to a limited geographical area.
© Qantara.de 2017
Translated from the Arabic by Chris Somes-Charlton