Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law Stanford University


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Morocco's Elections: The Limits of Limited Reforms

Journal Article

Michael A. McFaul - Stanford University
Tamara Wittes - Brookings Institute

Published by
Journal of Democracy, Vol. 19 no. 1, page(s) 19-33
January 2008

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.