The Future of Arab Democracy? 06/23/11
By Avi Spiegel (RPCV/Morocco)
Political Science Professor, Fellow of International Security and Law, Middle East Analyst
When the king of Morocco announced plans for a new constitution last week, Fox News hailed it as "revolutionary." A leader of the largest Islamist party in Morocco's parliament, the Party of Justice and Development, called it a "huge step for democracy." The official Moroccan press agency opted for the term "landmark for democracy."
With Libya at war, Syria mired in brutality and Egypt and Tunisia in a holding pattern, it's hard not to be smitten by an Arab leader who, in the relative calm of stability, takes to television and announces a new constitution, the first in 15 years. But this effort sadly falls dramatically short of real reform. The protesters on the streets of Morocco these past three months have not been asking for incremental, administrative change (the kind this new draft promises). Instead, they have been calling for a brand new political system, one where the king ruled symbolically, and the elected government did something revolutionary: It governed.