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Political and socio-economic liberalizations in Morocco: genuine democratization or smart authoritarianism?

Sacchetti, Fabiana (2012) Political and socio-economic liberalizations in Morocco: genuine democratization or smart authoritarianism? Advisor: Morlino, Prof. Leonardo. pp. 196. [IMT PhD Thesis]

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Abstract

“Regime change” in the Arab world has attracted strands of literature which, especially in the last 20 years, variously tried to explain a general “reluctance to democratize” and/or the singular “resilience of authoritarianism” that most Arab countries were showing, at times when other areas of the world were experiencing wide processes of democratization and political/economic liberalization. Among them, Morocco has so far been reported as one of the most “successful” cases of gradual democratization: partly since its independence in 1956 but mostly in the last two decades, Morocco has indeed been fairly responsive to the mainly external pressures toward political liberalization, endorsing a transition path marked by top-down liberalizing reforms on the political and economic spheres, along with attempts to improve unsatisfactory levels of social indicators and reduce poverty and inequality across the country. Though, this path - far from being linear and incremental – hinder tensions and contradictions which question the easy hypothesis of a country inscribed on a pattern of simultaneous successful democratization and structural change. Besides, Morocco also showed somewhat of a “partial” resilience to the revolutionary upheaval which has been shaking the Arab World since the eve of 2011: mass protests did spread out - leading the King to make concessions in terms of the adoption of a new constitution – but were much milder than in the neighbouring countries and no “revolution” as such took place. This partial resilience represents a further puzzle to explain, in so far as it can be read as a natural outcome in either one or the other of the two contrasting views presented above. By analysing thus the dynamics of political and socio-economic transformations occurred in Morocco during the last few decades, this work aims at answering to two interrelated questions: 1) Should Morocco be defined as a country embarked in a comprehensive path of democratization (of which the recent adoption of the new constitution represent a major significant step), or rather as trapped into a stalled democratization, or even as just pursuing a piecemeal strategy of ad hoc and often superficial reforms which cannot be described as an overall coherent process of transition (in which both cases the new constitution would be read as just cosmetic change)? 2) Morocco’s partial resilience to the recent revolutionary upheaval in the Arab world should be read as the result of a substantial (satisfied) acceptance by the population of the country’s socio-economic conditions and ongoing path of democratization (with thus protests calling for just reforms and not for radical regime change) or it is rather the result of a particularly smart and successful “survival strategy” by part of an authoritarian monarchy able to suffocate real demands for change coming from the masses, even when it appears to respond to them?

Item Type: IMT PhD Thesis
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
PhD Course: Political Science and Institutional Change
Identification Number: 10.6092/imtlucca/e-theses/93
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2013 10:25
URI: http://e-theses.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/93

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