Morocco Direct Legislative Elections Monitoring/Observation Report, June 25, 1993

Publication Date: 
31 Aug 1993

Publication Type:



The Kingdom of Morocco held direct elections for two-thirds of its national assembly on June 25, 1993. The final one-third were selected through indirect elections held on September 17, 1993. As a result of consultations between the governments of the Kingdom of Morocco and the United States, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems was invited to send a team to Morocco to perform a technical assessment of the June 25 electoral exercise. A IS-member international delegation was formed in response to this invitation. The principal objectives of the IFES observation mission in Morocco were to demonstrate the interest and support of the international community in the democratic process in Morocco and to gather information for inclusion in an election assessment report. This report is issued as a record of the observations made by the IFES team. It is also a presentation of a series of technical suggestions for the consideration of the Moroccan government in the organization and facilitation of future elections. This document is therefore addressed to the government and people of Morocco, as well as to the international community.

The initial phase of the mission was undertaken by a group of four campaign monitors and an IFES staff member who arrived in Rabat on June 9, 1993. Members of the monitoring team travelled around the country, gathering information on Morocco's preparations for the June 25 elections. Much information was obtained through interviews with Moroccans active in many segments of society. The team was primarily interested in information regarding the activities and climate of the electoral campaign, capacities for the general adherence to internationally accepted standards for democratic elections, and the practical logistical needs of the larger IFES observer mission that would follow.

A ten-member election observation team joined the monitoring team in Morocco on June 19. During the week leading up to election day, the IFES delegation studied the plans for the administration of voting, electoral rules and procedures, norms of administrative propriety and efficiency, political campaign methods, the degrees of political party and citizen participation, and general public awareness of the upcoming election process.

The IFES delegation was divided into six teams of two to four persons each and assigned to different observation zones. Early on June 22, the teams traveled to five of Morocco's major cities: Casablanca, Marrakech, Rabat, Fes, and Tetouan. The sixth team was assigned to Beni Mellal. On election day, the teams visited polling stations within their assigned cities, as well as in nearby cities, towns, and villages. Thus, each team had the opportunity to observe election activities in urban and rural Morocco.

The teams observed the opening of the polls on the morning of June 25 and followed the voting process in as many locations as possible throughout the day. IFES delegates looked closely at issues of polling station organization, expertise of electoral officials, processing of candidates' and electors' complaints, the conduct of the military and police at voting sites, the role of authorized party observers, ballot security, and vote tabulation procedures. The teams remained in the field in order to follow the vote tabulation and centralization process from the polling station to the local and district levels. It is estimated that in total IFES delegates observed the voting in over 220 polling stations out of approximately 50,000, representing approximately 124,000 electors, 1.1 % of Morocco's registered voting population.

The delegation reassembled in Rabat for debriefing on June 27. Each team presented a written report detailing its itinerary and findings to the IFES coordinator. Most of the delegation members departed from Morocco on June 29. The team coordinator remained in Morocco until July 4.

As this summary of the mission's activities makes clear, the IFES delegation's time and geographical reach in Morocco were limited. Delegates spoke with as broad a cross section of the Moroccan electorate as possible. Members of some groups, such as the Islamists, declined to meet with the delegation. This report attempts to present observations and conclusions of the mission that are valid and meaningful while explicitly recognizing these limitations.

The IFES delegation went to Morocco to observe the June 1993 elections, and to produce a report that would describe and qualitatively evaluate those elections. It was not the intention, nor was it within the capability, of IFES to pass qualitative judgment on Morocco's democracy. It is important, in the context of this report, to retain a distinction between elections and democracy. The holding of popular elections to choose a country's leaders is a necessary but not sufficient indication that that country is a democracy. It is necessary, in providing an analysis of these elections that goes beyond their technical and statistical realities, to place the elections within a picture of democracy in Morocco. Therefore, some perspective must be taken by this report on the nature of that democracy.

By most standards, Morocco must be considered a limited democracy. If one of the hallmarks of a democracy is a democratically elected parliament that exercises significant legislative authority, then it is in this regard that Morocco falls short. The overwhelming share of power in the Moroccan polity is held by the King and his appointed ministers. The legislature has a voice in policy-making, but it is an undeniably weak voice.

Just as undeniably, the Moroccan government has been accused in the past, by internal and external critics, of severely limiting political participation and freedoms such as assembly, the press, association, and opinion. It must be said that the IFES delegation went to Morocco with an awareness of these judgments. The delegation was not in a position to directly evaluate the evolutions of past events, nor to fully estimate the degree to which the current political atmosphere represents a change from the past. Evidence collected by the delegation makes it possible to conclude, however, that (I) the tolerance of dissent and debate, as seen during the recent political campaign, has increased over past years; and (2) there exists a level of censorship, self-censorship, fear, intimidation, and official corruption of the election process that still must be remedied by the government before the legitimate criticisms of internal and external observers will be answered.  

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