Saturday, July 02, 2011
Morocco's Referendum ~ early results
In Morocco, 72,6% of the voters decided on the constitutional referendum proposed by king Mohammed VI. The proposal passed with a 98% majority. The Interior minister, Taib Cherkuai, announced the results. The referendum voting was peaceful throughout the country and according to reports, the voter turn-out was not as high as had been expected.
By midday on Friday, Morocco's Interior Ministry told the state news agency Maghreb Arabe Presse that voter turnout was at 26 percent, and that the king had cast his vote in front of supporters in Rabat.
The BBC reported that low voter turnout at the referendum could spur demand for even greater freedoms – while adding that main political parties, unions and religious leaders have been urging support for the new constitution.
The reforms have received interational approval, with the European Union describing them as “a clear commitment to democracy”.
The vote will be the first constitutional referendum under the king's 12-year rule, and follows parliamentary polls in 2007, at which voter turnout stood at a record low of of 37 percent.
The speed of the results being announced was greeted with a certain scepticism by some commentators. As the popular Reading Morocco website put it... "in this referendum, there is something positive, after all: I found out that the Moroccan administration is so developed and advanced that it could count ballots nationwide, including from hundreds of villages scattered and isolated in the Atlas mountains, and do this in record time--four hours after the closing of the polling centers. What an extraordinary job you have done, my country."
The referendum sanctioned the policy of transformation from absolute into constitutional monarchy the king is sponsoring in response to the democratic requests of the Arab spring. While certainly a good step in the right direction, only time will tell if the protest movement will maintain their demonstrations. Questions are being asked about the actual number of citizens registered to vote (some 13 million)as a percentage of the total population (33 million) and there will no doubt be more attention to this point in coming days.
Reading Morocco also shared this "The voting activities on Friday, of course, quickly spawned jokes on the Internet. Here’s one popular joke: A man voted “No” for the new constitution by mistake. As he walked home, he realized his mistake and returned to the polling center to ask officials if he could change his vote. They told him: We already corrected that mistake for you, just don’t do it again."