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On 9 March 2011, in an unexpected speech that took the world of Moroccan politics by surprise, King Mohammed VI announced the introduction of a “global constitutional reform based on seven key elements” . A commission appointed by the King and presided over by university professor Abdellatif Mennouni was made responsible for drawing up and developing this new Constitution, then submitted to the Moroccan people and adopted by a referendum of 1 July 2011.
The constitutional reform undertaken by Mohammed VI has been seen as a subtle way of avoiding the influence of the “Arab Spring” in Morocco. Popular protests were organized by the February 20 Movement to demand more freedom, and the setting up of a parliamentary monarchy giving more power to the Government and Parliament, which would curb the excessive powers of the Monarchy. In this context, the adoption of a new constitution was seen as a way to defuse the emerging wave of popular protest .
The way in which the reform plan was drawn up and adopted illustrates the reformist culture that dominates Moroccan political life and conditions the behavior of the actors involved.
The constitutional reform received overwhelming approval in a popular referendum, and is an important benchmark for the codification of rights and freedoms, the reinforcement of executive power, broadening of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. It does not reduce the powers of the King, who remains at the centre of Moroccan political life.