Moroccan politics, with a new and young political scene, is at the centre of many heated debates. The Arab Spring sparked a new interest among young people who keep demanding involvement in the political decision making process.
On April 26th, a debate revolving around young people’s participation in politics was held in Casablanca. For those who participated, it was both a desire but also possibility to be involved in the political process today.
The Plural Moroccan Association event allowed for citizens to debate, exchange and share their ideas amidst a socially, ethnically and generationally diverse environment. The purpose of the meeting was to help to bridge the gap between citizens, especially the young, and the political establishment.
Moroccan political leaders need to understand that young people have changed, according to Mehdi Derraz, Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) president. Therefore, their needs and expectations should be met, he said.
“There has been some talk about how young people will be tomorrow’s players – but a lot of it is just that (talk) and most of it is restricted to speeches, political debates or just happens when elections take place,” Derraz said.
Mbarka Bouaida, National Rally of Independents (RNI) deputy, thinks that Morocco is facing a much deeper problem with the political crowd growing younger and younger.
“There needs to be young people, but these young people also need to efficiently defend their convictions and put forward a progressive and modern plan,” Bouaida said.
In front of the city’s large and young audience, many agreed that political parties need to renew the nation’s political elite and, when it comes to restoring trust between citizens and politicians, offer the country real choices.
Many young people however are still suspicious of these speeches and promises.
“Politicians need to get young people’s attention by focusing on issues that they can relate to – instead they just argue about news topics we just don’t care about,” she said.
Mehdi, a classmate said he believes young people still haven’t found the right political alternative.
“Despite everything that’s been said, politicians and other decision makers don’t seem ready to involve us,” he said.
Former Trade Minister Ahmed Reda Chami acknowledged that because political groups often lack internal democracy, many parties have lost their credibility with the younger crowd.
“Young people need to understand that a new political genre is emerging and that for many politicians, the youth issue is a serious matter,” he said.
In Morocco, 20 million citizens have the right to vote and 14 million are registered – but barely 7 million make it to the polls.
According to Reda Chami, these numbers, in regards to Moroccan democracy, are alarming. “I am in favour of a mandatory vote,” he said, “because in order to build democracy, you need to vote.”