Mass protest over unemployment, 20 January 2012
Seen from afar, Morocco’s 2011 events are the pitch-perfect tale of popular protests with a happy ending: after huge pro-democracy demonstrations broke out, the government complied without firing a bullet and a reformed Constitution was approved by popular referendum. Then the street movement gracefully faded, giving way to change in the polls: a few months later, free elections resulted in a severe defeat of the incumbent government and the spectacular rise of a fresh political party—one that was never associated to government before.
Yet this rosy narrative, though built on real facts, doesn’t quite reflect the reality. In truth, what happened in Morocco in 2011 was a war of position and speed involving underground activists, maverick political groups, and a subtly resilient royal administration. It was also a conflict of generations, pitting twenty-something wholehearted newcomers against old school, wily politicians. Finally, it was a case study of political tactics and stratagems—ones that made the national balance of powers shift twice in a year.