Westminster Foundation for Democracy is proud of our record working with the Moroccan Parliament in the wake of the Arab Spring – and we are committed to continuing our close relationship with its leadership in the years to come.
Future opportunities in Morocco build on the breadth of work undertaken in our 2012-2015 programme, ‘Increasing Political Participation and Transparency in the Moroccan Parliament’, which established the first-ever Public Accounts Committee in the region. This was modelled on the British counterpart but retained a distinctly Moroccan approach. WFD also worked together with the Parliament to form the first Moroccan Women MPs’ working group, uniting MPs from eight different parliamentary blocs to coordinate responses to gender legislation and budgeting.
This focus on parliamentary strengthening followed WFD’s work in Morocco with civil society organisations from 2004. We ran programmes which sought to increase women’s access to legal services, end violence against women and build the election capacity for female associations and illiterate women.
When momentum for political and economic change spread rapidly across the Middle East and North Africa in 2011, Morocco was ahead of many of its neighbours in its willingness to embrace democratic reform – as our ability to operate effectively reflected. This progress was driven by King Mohammed VI’s commitment to reform. His Majesty had started the process of reform in the late 1990s, and began to consolidate it with the introduction of the new constitution in 2011. This openness reached all levels of Moroccan politics, with the House of Representatives developing and adopting a new strategic plan in December 2012.
With significant progress already made and the willingness for reform in Morocco’s key institutions clear, the momentum now exists for further significant steps forwards. The parliament’s capacity to evaluate public policy, for example, lends itself to support from the Westminster model. Support of this type has been invited by the Speakers of the Upper and Lower Houses, the chairs of five parliamentary blocs and the Deputy Speaker responsible for coordinating with international organisations.
A five-year partnership with the House of Representatives, signed in March 2016, demonstrates the commitment of WFD to strengthening the democratic process in Morocco. Going forwards, WFD wants to build on the progress made through continued support to the financial oversight committees of the parliament, improving evaluation and implementation of public policies with greater inputs from citizens and creating a more supportive and enabling environment for women.
Given the regional context, WFD’s partnership with the Moroccan Parliament is crucial now more than ever in helping to deliver the consolidation of democracy which Moroccan citizens, and the parliamentarians that represent them, want and need. WFD will work with Morocco in the long-term – and is open to fresh funding opportunities as they arise.