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Morocco: Whitewash, Resignation

By Kristina Kausch (20/09/2007) Other publications

In July 2007, FRIDE published a background document on the Moroccan legislative election of September 7th (‘An Islamist Government in Morocco?’), analysing the prospects of the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) to form part of the next government, and the possible implications this might have for Moroccan democracy.

Many of the concerns identified in this backgrounder were borne out when the elections were held. No Moroccan election before has generated such excitement and international attention as the 2007 legislative elections.

Election observers, foreign correspondents and analysts alike headed to Rabat to witness what was expected to become the day that would seal Morocco’s shift to an ‘Islamist government’.

But polls and forecasts were proven wrong: while the PJD did gain a few seats, it achieved anything but a ‘raz de marée’ and did not see its expectations of becoming the strongest political force in the country come to fruition.

No less surprising, the old, established Istiqlal (Independence) Party overtook the PJD in a leap of popularity that analysts are having trouble explaining.

The most striking feature of this election, however, has been neither the PJD’s relative failure nor Istiqlal’s sudden boost, but the miserably low voter turnout of 37 per cent, according to the official figures.

Real participation, however, is estimated to have been even lower (around 24 per cent), given that the offi cial fi gures refer to registered voters and still include void and blank votes, which account for 19 per cent of the vote cast.

In other words, at least two-thirds of Moroccans abstained, and of those who did cast the ballot, one out of every five was blank or void. In addition, Moroccan media report that many of the blank votes were adorned with protest messages blatantly expressing disenchantment with the governing elite.

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Middle East and North Africa. Euro-Mediterranean relations. Mediterranean geopolitics. Democracy and human rights

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Dear Friends and Colleagues,

FRIDE ceased its think tank activities on 31st December 2015 for economic reasons. The Board of Trustees had to take this difficult decision since, despite many efforts to diversify its funding sources, FRIDE cannot sustain its think tank operations with a view to 2016 and beyond.

Established in 1999, FRIDE has made a major contribution to shape debate on Europe’s external activities in an increasingly challenging international environment. It has covered issues ranging from democracy and human rights to sustainable development, new approaches to multilateral cooperation and security affairs. FRIDE’s long-standing focus on the extended neighbourhood of the European Union proves today all the more relevant given widespread turbulence in the region. FRIDE’s emphasis on the importance of the values framing Europe’s external activities is central to current political debates in Europe and beyond. This shows the need for continued engagement in the pursuit of a common European foreign policy that is both effective and informed by the core values of European integration.

The Board wishes to thank Diego Hidalgo, FRIDE’s founder, for his tireless commitment and very generous support for many years. The Board also wishes to thank FRIDE’s dedicated staff, the members of the Board and the Advisory Committee for their contribution in making FRIDE one of the top foreign policy think tanks in Europe. We are very grateful to all those who have supported FRIDE’s work and projects over the years and we thank the many partners from all parts of the world who have worked with FRIDE on joint initiatives. We hope that FRIDE’s extensive input to the debate on Europe in the world will continue to inform thinking and action at a very critical time for Europe’s future.

The President of the Board

FRIDE cesó sus actividades como think tank el 31 de diciembre de 2015 por razones económicas. El Patronato tuvo que adoptar esta difícil decisión dado que, a pesar de los intensos esfuerzos realizados para diversificar sus fuentes de financiación, FRIDE no puede sostener sus operaciones como think tank a partir de 2016.

Establecido en 1999, FRIDE ha realizado una gran contribución al debate sobre las actividades exteriores de Europa en un ambiente internacional cada vez más complejo. Ha trabajado en temas que van desde la democracia y los derechos humanos al desarrollo sostenible, los nuevos enfoques en la cooperación multilateral y las cuestiones de seguridad. La atención prestada por FRIDE a la vecindad extendida de la Unión Europea durante mucho tiempo prueba ser hoy aún más relevante debido a la turbulencia que azota a la región. El énfasis de FRIDE en la importancia de los valores que enmarcan las actividades exteriores europeas es central en los debates en Europa y más allá. Esto muestra la necesidad de un compromiso continuo con la búsqueda de una política exterior europea común que sea eficaz y esté basada en los principios fundamentales de la integración europea.

El Patronato desea agradecer a Diego Hidalgo, fundador de FRIDE, por su incansable compromiso y muy generoso apoyo a lo largo de tantos años. También quiere expresar su gratitud a la dedicada plantilla, a los propios miembros del Patronato y del Comité Asesor por sus contribuciones para hacer de FRIDE uno de los principales think tanks de Europa en cuestiones de política exterior. Estamos muy agradecidos con todos aquellos que han apoyado el trabajo y los proyectos de FRIDE a través de los años y también damos las gracias a los numerosos socios de todas partes del mundo que han colaborado con FRIDE en iniciativas conjuntas. Esperamos que las extensas aportaciones de FRIDE al debate sobre Europa en el mundo continuará informando el pensamiento y la acción en un momento muy crítico para el futuro de Europa.

El Presidente del Patronato

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