King Mohammed VI has affirmed that democracy is not a ready-made recipe, nor is it a model to be imported but is rather a gradual, home-grown exercise that requires pluralism and diversity.
“We firmly believe that democracy is not a ready-made recipe; nor is it a model to be imported. Rather, democracy is a gradual, home-grown exercise that requires pluralism and diversity,” said the king in a Message addressed Wednesday to participants at a symposium commemorating the 60th anniversary of Morocco’s first elected parliament.
Democracy is the result of interaction with the domestic environment and with the particularities of each country, without compromising on the universal standards of representative democracy, whose foundations include free and fair elections, the multi-party system and alternation in the exercise of political power, the Sovereign said.
The Moroccan parliamentary model is the result of a political vision which seeks the achievement of gradual and successive constitutional reforms, said the king, noting that the model also reflects a strong desire to ensure the participation of the nation’s active political, social, and economic forces.
In this vein, he recalled that Morocco was a pioneer in enshrining participatory and citizen-based democracy in the Constitution, together with the roles of civil society, emphasizing that “the participatory approach has always been a standard practice in the major reforms our country has witnessed at key moments in its history, which is particularly rich in achievements and accomplishments.”
The ultimate goal of this methodology, which reflects yet another aspect of Moroccan democracy and its unique character, remains the consolidation of the rule of law and the promotion of the institution-based state through the separation of powers and the accountability of public office holders, stressed the Sovereign, adding that the Kingdom was also pioneer in enshrining “the right of male and female citizens to submit motions in the legislative field and petitions to public authorities,” the expected aim of these measures being to enrich parliamentary work.
In the message that was read out by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the King highlighted the efforts made by Morocco since independence to consolidate representative democracy, which began with the involvement of the Nation’s living forces in the establishment of a National Advisory Council by the late King Mohammed V, the establishment of an institution-based state by late King Hassan II, while confirming the choices Morocco made for itself with regard to the multi-party system, representative democracy, freedom of organization and political affiliation, and freedom of opinion and expression. This was “at a time when single-party ideology predominated in many countries of the world,” he said.
Despite the profound changes which occurred at that time, the multi-party system was preserved, together with the uniqueness of the Moroccan model, thanks to the engagement of serious political parties, championing various societal projects, as well as a vigilant civil society and independent trade union organizations, underlined King Mohammed VI.
The Sovereign also stressed that the last quarter of the twentieth century was decisive in completing the construction of the nation’s democratic system and of bodies that were elected at the national and local levels, as the powers of national institutions were enhanced and major reforms became possible thanks to two important constitutional amendments introduced in 1992 and 1996, the return, since 1996, to the bicameral parliamentary system, the expansion of the prerogatives of elected institutions, in addition to laying down the foundations of regionalization.
The Sovereign affirmed that, since his accession to the throne he remained committed to the same approach and made sure major reforms in various political, social, economic and cultural fields are introduced.
The legislative institution was at the heart of these structural reforms, be it through the greater powers given to parliament, or the promotion of women’s representation which grew steadily and significantly, in parliament as well as in various elected councils, the Sovereign noted, citing the implementation of a set of far-reaching reforms, culminating in the adoption of the 2011 Constitution which made it possible to launch several structural reforms, thereby consecrating the exceptional nature of the Moroccan reform model.
The Sovereign further underscored the crucial role of Parliament in disseminating democratic principles, upholding the rule of law, promoting a culture of participation and dialogue, and enhancing confidence in elected institutions.
In this respect, he said he is pleased to note the contribution the Moroccan Parliament has been making in terms of defending the country’s interests and just causes – including that of territorial integrity – and highlighting the various reforms and projects taking place in the Kingdom.
“We also take pride in the fact that Moroccan parliamentary diplomacy has been playing a leading role in defending issues that are crucial for our African continent…issues that feature high among our foreign policy priorities,” underlined the Sovereign, adding that “this policy is fully in line with the philosophy underpinning our diplomatic service, the foundations of which I set in place and which consist in non-interference in the internal affairs of countries, respecting their national and territorial integrity, contributing to maintaining peace and stability, and preventing and settling crises and conflicts by peaceful means.”
Notwithstanding the accomplishments made, greater efforts are still needed “to achieve the institutional, representative democracy which we want for our country, and which would be a credit to it,” stressed the King, mentioning in this regard the most significant challenges which have to be addressed, notably the need to prioritize the higher interests of the nation and of the citizens over narrow partisan considerations and to improve ethical standards in parliamentary life through the adoption of a binding code of ethics in both Houses.
The Sovereign also stressed the need to achieve harmony between representative democracy and participatory democracy, enhance the profile of parliamentary elites and of elected officials, and ensure greater access of women and young people to representative bodies.
“These are all critical issues that need to be successfully addressed, notably in the context of the major reforms and large-scale projects currently being implemented in Morocco. They will no doubt be instrumental in achieving greater progress and prosperity for the benefit of the Moroccan people,” said the Sovereign.