Morocco’s New Government Moves In Technocratic Direction

Women discussing politics in Morocco
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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

After months of speculation, Morocco announced a new government today that will include the lowest number of ministers ever. Women will take-up key roles in a technocratic orientated government.

Morocco’s new cabinet will shrink in size from 39 to just 24 ministers. A number of key positions such as officials responsible for foreign, finance, and interior issues will remain to ensure continuity while other posts are consolidated.

“When there are fewer ministers, each minister has more agency to deliver on his agenda. In previous governments there were a lot of people handed cabinet positions that were there for political reasons and hopefully those days are gone forever,” said Mohamed Chtatou a political analyst and professor at the University of Mohammed V in Rabat.

This marks the second time since elections in 2016 that Morocco successfully muddled its way through a crisis. In 2011, street protests in Morocco, as part of the wider Arab Spring, saw the government enact a number of reforms and open elections that year. The polls were won by the Justice and Development Party (PJD) led by Abdelilah Benkirane.

In 2016, the PJD became the first Islamist government in the Arab world to be returned to power in a general election. Benkirane failed to form a government which led to his replacement by Saadine El Othmani. The increased number of technocrats in government reflects the country’s political mood.

“More and more people in Morocco don’t trust the parties to deliver. The parties are seen as putting people in power who are there for their own interests. When you have over 30 ministers you have a lot of people making big salaries but, only doing a little work,” said Chtatou.

The distaste many Moroccans have for their political system is reflected in the turnout of only 43% in Morocco’s last election.

“The Moroccan people don’t choose parties — the people are captured by their parties. The PJD government has delivered on their promises of maintaining a religious identity but, not on the business of improving people’s lives,” said Chtatou.

Ironically, one of the portfolios not controlled by the PJD is the Ministry responsible for Islamic Affairs, which has been handed to an independent.

It was this frustration that led the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, in his Throne Day Speech to call for the selection of new cabinet.

““There was a lot of pressure on the head of the government, Saad Eddine Outhmali, to produce a more efficient, smaller government and the fact that it took so long speaks to the chess game that went on behind the scenes but, the goal has remained the same,” said a Moroccan analyst.

She pointed out that the reduced cabinent would not only lead to increased efficiencies in government but, save the Moroccan tax payer by reducing staff. Another key takeaway from the election was the enhanced role of women including two influential newcomers.

Two of the seven ministers from the PJD were women with Nezha Al Wafi maintaing her post in charge of migration affairs, an important post within a country that has both a large diaspora and has also received a growing number of immigrants from Francophone West African countries.

Nezha Bouchareb is one of four ministers of the RNI party in the new government. The classically liberal leaning National Rally of Independents (RNI) is a junior partner in the PJD-led government in power.

Bouchareb, the new minister responsible for urban affairs comes to the post with extensive experience as an engineer.  Nadia Fettah Alaoui, Minister of Tourism, Crafts, Air Transport and Social Economy is the first woman to hold that portfolio in Moroccan history after a first career in one of Morocco’s insurance giants.

With a “kitchen cabinent” in place Saad Eddine Outhmali will have roughly two years to cook up some enthusiasm among his base before elections in 2021. 

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