Morocco’s Elections: The Limits of Limited Reforms

Issue Date January 2008
Volume 19
Issue 1
Page Numbers 19-33
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Morocco’s experience suggests that expanded political liberty, especially freedom of association, can facilitate the emergence of multiple versions of political Islam, reducing the salience of a large, undifferentiated Islamist movement as an umbrella for oppositionist sentiment. The best means for containing potentially destabilizing discontent and promoting moderation among potentially antidemocratic forces are a pluralized political space and iterative free elections. The dilemmas that the king must now resolve in the face of citizen alienation reveal the limits of a strategy of gradual liberalization stage-managed from on high by a pro-Western autocrat.

About the Authors

Michael McFaul

Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, is professor of political science at Stanford University, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. His most recent book is From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia (2018).

View all work by Michael McFaul

Tamara Cofman Wittes

Tamara Cofman Wittes is a senior fellow and director of the Project on Middle East Democracy and Development in the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Her latest book is Freedom’s Unsteady March: America’s Role in Building Arab Democracy (2008).

View all work by Tamara Cofman Wittes