Saturday, August 29, 2015

Final Campaigning for Moroccan Elections

Campaigning for the upcoming municipal and regional elections in Morocco is in full swing and the various parties have teams out on the streets attempting to convince people which way to vote

To an outsider it all looks a little chaotic. Election posters are everywhere, particularly on the poster walls, where parties are given spaces in which to attach their posters.

The phenomenon of the poster walls is not exclusively Moroccan. Similar arrangements can be seen in Japan, France, Tunisia, Italy and Senegal. It is a remarkably low tech way to reach potential voters.

The parties are often referred to by their symbol, rather than the actual party name. Hence, the party of the "Lamp" or the party of the "Balance" or the "Eye". It is a tradition the goes back to the time when a majority of the voters were illiterate but could recognise the individual party logos.

When it comes to filling in the ballot papers, an illiterate voter simply selects the appropriate logo.

Possibly the biggest problem for Moroccan democracy is convincing the citizens that their vote will count. The level of scepticism is high and there are groups actively campaigning for a boycott of the elections.

No, it is not a campaign for a "donkey" vote

Alongside the serious campaigning and political rallies, the scene on the street is full of surprises, with animals adorned with posters and young people singing, chanting and handing out leaflets. The sight of a donkey covered in leaflets was not part of a campaign to cast invalid votes. In the West such a vote is described as "a donkey vote".

The campaign themes are remarkably similar in tone and themes. What differs is the ability to harness the media. Abdellatif Zaki is a professor of Languages and Communication at Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire Hassan II, Rabat wrote an interesting article for Morocco World News in which he points out that parties such as Istiqlal, USFP, PAM, and PJD, because of their financial capacities, their acute awareness and skilful use of the power of advanced information and communication technology and their internal electoral mechanisms, have produced campaign audio visuals in which the presence of figures of the nationalist movement, militant chants from the resistance era and quotations of charismatic leaders of the decolonisation struggle are used to confirm a heritage, link to a tradition and establish a stock of trust. Parties which deal in religion or with a deeper anchor in Islamic ideologies put forward speakers with prayer marks on their foreheads and a more intense and higher frequency use of religious words and theologically overloaded figures of speech.

Abdellatif Zaki goes on to say that the literature disseminated by FDG seems to stand out as analytical, more measured and more modernist. Unlike the long lists of promises not meant to be honoured presented by most parties, FDG proposes a program that seems to be grounded in a systematic rational analysis of the socioeconomic and political situation of the country. This is certainly no coincidence. In fact, the Federation of the Democratic Left – which groups three former political organisations, namely PADS – The Party of the Democratic and Socialist avant-garde, CNI – the Ittihadi National Congress , and PSU – The Unified Socialist Party speaks the language of its leadership and its membership. In fact, FDG is a crucible of individuals with scientific, engineering, business, economics, law, political science and arts backgrounds whose minds are used to the analysis of complex systems, team work, evaluation, planning, optimising resources, problem solving and implementation of optimal solutions. A huge disadvantage of this party is paradoxically what makes its strength, specifically, its discourse is not populistic and may not be appealing to the vast majority of voters used to the comfort of simplistic language and dreamlike promises that commit neither those who make them nor those who buy them. Another disadvantage of this party is that it is of a too recent creation to be widely known and to have contingents of militants comparable to those of its adversaries.

You can read the full article here: Morocco World News

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