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The Islamist and Socialist governments in Morocco: one path different destinies?

After completing half of its term, the Moroccan government led by the Justice and Development Party (PJD) for the first time in history, speculation has started regarding its destiny and how far it resembles the "rotation" government led by the socialist politician Abdur-Rahman Al-Yousefy.

Observers believe that similarity exists between the current government, officially appointed on January 3, 2012, and the Yousefy government (1998-2002), because of the identical conditions that resulted in their birth.

The consensus "rotation" government was formed in 1998, led by Yousefy, during the reign of late king Al-Hassan II, when political debates were launched in 1992, focused on the need to embark on political reforms, including civil liberties and engaging the opposition. The Yousefy government lasted until 2002.

Political science researcher Abdur-Rahim Allam explains, in an interview with Al Araby Al Jadid newspaper, that "the two governments were led by opposition parties, have not previously taken part in power, and had a past rife with conflicts with the regime."

He notes that the two governments were created in similar conditions. For instance, Yousefy was invited to lead the rotation government after the country was "on the verge of a stalemate" when King Hassan II tried to pass on power to his successor Mohamed VI.

The PJD government, likewise, was born in the context of the revolutionary movement of February 20, after all the red lines drawn by the state for Islamists had vanished. The royal institution, Allam points out, "counted on the PJD to contain the revolutionary wave with minimal losses."

Concerning differences between the two models, Allam says that they mainly differ in their ideological background. Moreover, the Socialist Union Party has been active as an opposition for a long time, unlike the PJD whose experience is more recent.

"Islamists benefited from the new political reality following the Arab Spring and won the parliamentary elections in November 2011. On the other hand, the Yousefy government came at the time of the collapse of ideologies and the decline of socialism, and he benefited from his long history of struggle," Allam said.

He stresses that due to the numerous similarities between the socialist and Islamist governments, speculations have arisen regarding the possibility that the Benkirane Islamist government would take the same path as that of Yousefy's.

"The same conditions that produced the two experiences could contribute to their end, particularly in the midst of their accusations of the deep state resisting reforms," he added.

However, he went on to say that the end may not be similar if we take into account the ideological differences between them, which could be in the favour of the current government 'because of its emphasis on the moral dimension and other policies which appeal to the conservative Moroccan society."

One of the major factors which could save this government from the destiny faced by its predecessor is "to take time to reassess its time in power and try to reposition itself before it's too late, especially with the revolutionary momentum still alive," he concluded.

This article was first published in Arabic by Al-Araby.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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