Through this post of Xoussef and this post of Moonlight , I stumbled upon this editorial of Ahmed Benchemsi of Telquel.

Benchemsi advises people to vote blanco during the next elections. According to him it's the only relevant choice during the elections. He predicts that the "blanco vote"-party would be one of the biggest winners.
It would wake up the political elite of the country and cause a change in the Moroccan politics.

I kind of understand his point of view. Blanco voting is usually a very good way of showing your disillusion with the current political state.
But I'm wary of the consequences this may have in the upcoming elections.
It's almost certain that the PJD, the islamist party, will be the only winner during the next elections.
Other mainstream, (nominally) secular parties are facing a major defeat.

And for some reason, I don't believe that the blanco-voter is the same as the PJD-voter. A blanco-voter is usually not a member of a grass-root movement like the PJD. Otherwise they wouldn't vote blanco (correct me if I'm wrong)
The people who would vote blanco are usually the people who used to vote for traditional parties (in this case the (nominally) secular parties of Morocco)
In other words, a blanco vote equals a vote for the PJD. The electoral victory of the PJD will seem even bigger.

I wonder if Benchemsi knows what the full impact is of a blanco vote.
The main reasons why he advises a blanco vote are political and democratic change. Are these changes possible if only 1 party wins the elections with a very large majority?
Is it possible to achieve democratic changes if the ruling elite is shellshocked by its loss and introduces undemocratic measures to do some damage-control (something that is bound to happen)
Benchemsi really must see the PJD as a political party that wants to achieve democratic and political change for áll the Moroccans. Instead, the PJD is a party that wants to turn Morocco into a more conservative, religious, closed country.

I actually doubt it that Benchemsi really wants to see the PJD as the only victorious party during the next elections. I also doubt it that he believes that the PJD is the only motor behind political and democratic changes.
Instead, I think that he just made a remark without really understanding what the true impact of it is.


  1. eatbees said...
    "Benchemsi really must see the PJD as a political party that wants to achieve democratic and political change for all the Moroccans. Instead, the PJD is a party that wants to turn Morocco into a more conservative, religious, closed country."

    I'm not convinced this is true. (I know the rest of the blogger elite disagrees with me.) But I think a victory for the Islamic party in Turkey was the best thing that happened to Turkey in 60 years -- they turned out to be closet progressives -- and the Hamas victory was a good thing for Palestine -- at least the people got representation that is truly representative. Why couldn't it be a good thing for Morocco?

    Besides, a party that wins with a huge majority would have all the responsibility that goes with it. They would be solely responsible for the success or failure of their program (particularly in the case of the PJD, which isn't likely to get backstage help from either the Makhzen or rival parties) -- and if their program fails, they will pay the price at the ballot box the next time around. As painful as it's been, the U.S. has survived six years of GWB, and isn't likely to make anything close to the same mistake again. Call it a learning experience. Why deny Morocco its learning experience?

    That said, I can't say I like the idea of blank voting. People who feel that way should form their own grassroots party, or get inside one of the old parties and revitalize it from within -- as blogger-activists are trying to do with the Democrats in the U.S. This takes patience, commitment and optimism, so it isn't easy. But I see blank voting as a cynical and essentially meaningless gesture.
    xoussef said...
    @ le Beau Bo: so you are the mysterious translator user ;)
    @ eatbees: i don't know about the turkish AKP discourse before elections, but i expect a political party to keep the same discourse after beeing elected.
    Now the PJD said that they will keep the cape the same in economics, and they have not at all bad ideas in that field. i am concerned in what they will do in culture and personal freedoms fields. all they have to do is to resuscitate some restrectiv lowas that are now used too loosely.
    Hoba Hoba Sprit sang "xellini n3ich 7yati w 7sabi m3a rebbi" (let me live as i want, i will clear it up with my god), PJD don't seem to have the same philosophy.
    a party can win huge majority, but it wont reflect the reality if the oppenants vote blanco or the participation rate is low. I want a true election, huge participation, valid votes. if PJD win in a situation like that, no one will complain, included me, i will manage to survive :D. but if they win because poeple are not interested, i will regret it.
    BO18 said...
    @ Xoussef

    Oops, you got me:P

    @ Eatbees

    Xoussef kind of thinks the same way as me.
    And I just have to add this: maybe I perceive the PJD from my position as a staunchly secular, selfish, "elitist" blogger/person. Which means that an electoral win for the PJD will make my own position, as a Moroccan citizen *ahem*, even worse.
    I mean the PJD isn't all too liberal when it comes to gays, free youngsters etc etc. We're all Satanists according to them.
    And that's where the main difference is between the PJD and AKP in Turkey. The latter didn't use the kind of language the PJD does.
    The PJD likes to compare itself with the AKP but they're from 2 different worlds. A conservative-religious (Morocco) and a conservative-secular one (Turkey)

    But you do have a point about letting the PJD take their responsibility and govern. I just don't think that Morocco is stable enough for it.
    In Turkey the generals reacted very negatively on the electoral victories of Islamic parties.
    What will the reactions be of the traditional elite in Morocco?
    Anonymous said...
    I just had a very interesting conversation with my friend Doga about this. He's voting PJD and is doing his best to convince his friends to do the same, because he sees the PJD as the progressive choice. He believes they will bring more freedom and more political alternatives, not less -- and he is wondering where people get their idea that the PJD wants to limit personal freedom, because he doesn't see it that way. I tried to persuade him to write an article for eatbees blog definding his idea, but even if he doesn't, I thought I would bring it to your attention because I always seem to hear only the bad side of the PJD! When you say "We're all Satanists according to them" that's a very broad statement, don't you think? -- both on the "we" side and the "they" side. You're a likeable guy who could surely have a civil discussion with at least some of the PJD's members. Doga is someone with liberal ideas, maybe a leftist even, who is supporting the PJD this year as the best chance for reform. He doesn't see you or Xoussef as "Satanist" either, in fact he isn't so different from you! Is he making a big mistake?
    eatbees said...
    That last comment is mine by the way....
    xoussef said...
    i might be completely mistaken since i know realy little of moroccan politics. PJD MP's in the past few years, asked gov to cancel festivals, to sensor movies and books that don't match there "moral"(not law). the unofficial PJD press body Altajdeed, among other things, started several anti-homo campaigns, it just gives me urticaria every time i read it. that's what makes me say that they are likely to limit personal freedom once in gov.
    eatbees said...
    Xoussef, I guess we'd better keep you away from Altajdeed then! Doga reads it sometimes without getting urticaria (hives--thanks google!) but as I told him, maybe that's because he wouldn't mind losing those particular freedoms because they aren't ones he indulges anyway! I think you and I see things pretty close to the same way--if the PJD is truly the will of the people I would accept that, make the best of it, then work hard for a progressive comeback in the next round (which is basically what's happening now in the U.S.). Anyway, we like you without hives, so I would say, stay away from that nasty stuff and stick to reading material that's good for your complexion!
    BO18 said...
    @ Eatbees

    Sorry but I just noticed your comments:S
    But, as happened before, Xoussef has answered you the exact same way as I would answer you:P
    (we don't only have a name in common but also a lot of thoughts, a miracle!)

    But concerning Doga and his plans to vote PJD.
    Voting PJD only brings reforms for a part of the population, the ultra-religious part.
    You shouldn't just vote for the sake of reform. No, you should vote for reform without harming the liberties of others. Thats real democracy (or should be)
    Voting PJD is voting for new restrictions on other lifestyles than those of PJD-members.
    Does Doga really want that?
    eatbees said...
    @BO18, Doga isn't ultra-religious. He prays regularly, but he also drinks alcohol and has been known to fornicate. He just doesn't agree with you that voting PJD will lead to new restrictions on either his behavior, or yours. He asks, what is your proof? In terms of the PJD's electoral program, or their actions already in local government, can you show how a PJD victory would limit your freedoms more than the existing system? He wants concrete examples, not statements by a few hotheads who may not represent the mainstream of the party.

    As Xoussef points out, the oppressive laws are already on the books, but they are only selectively enforced. I would say, they are used mostly against the poor, or when the police can get a bribe out of it. Let's imagine the PJD will enforce them more strictly as you and Xoussef fear. Couldn't this in the long run lead to fairer laws, as people hurt by the tough enforcement demand liberalization? Anti-sodomy laws existed in the U.S. until just a few years ago, when gay men in Texas were prosecuted under a 19th century law and the Supreme Court threw out the case. The police official who arrested them said, "The best way to get rid of a bad law is to enforce it."

    I know I'm a perptual optimist. Call me naive. For a while, I believed the Iraqis really would greet an invasion with flowers! Anyway, we'll probably get a chance this year to see who is right about the PJD.
    xoussef said...
    :D i promise i won't even get close to that paper :p. i am maybe too idealist too, but, can't we just get rid of these laws without experiancing there inforcement?
    under european pressure on actual gov, things emprove at a low pace, but definitely perceptible.
    BO18 said...
    LOL fornicate:P ( I always giggle when somebody uses that word or the word "procrastination"

    Ok, now serious.

    Xoussef already pointed at the witch-hunt started by islamist-friendly papers and politicians.
    Youngsters, who happen to like gothic rock, wre beranded as satanist/homosexuals and prosecuted/arrested.
    Isn't that a concrete example?
    Or the hysterical reaction of the PJD concerning that music festival in Marrakech. They believed that that festival was ment to convert people to christianity.
    I'm really sorry, but the PJD is being populated by politicians who lost touch with the worldly reality.

    Some of the oppressive laws already exist, you got a point there. And they only get enforced if it comes to poor people.
    But other laws are still not on the books.
    If we take the 2 examples I gave you above.
    What if the PJD introduced (instead of only enforcing existing laws) laws that tighten the control of the state when it comes to concerts/art/lifestyles?

    If the PJD comes to power they will not only be tough on enforcement of existing laws, they will come up with their own unrealistic, hysterical, oppressive laws.
    How can we call that progression?

    In a mature society, this would be corrected during the next elections.
    But Morocco is far from being a mature society.
    Look, we have 2 camps. The tradition, "secular" camp and the new, islamist camp.
    Both are powerhungry and mainly undemocratic.
    It comes down to choosing between those 2 camps during the elections.
    I would choose the traditional camp. That camp has already the experience and understands that introducing more oppressive, ignorant laws will only harm the image of Morocco.
    I'm not endorsing or approving the tactics of the traditional camp.
    I'm just saying that positive change and reform for áll the groups can only be achieved through that camp.

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