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morocco-political-mapPopulation: 32,521,143

HDI ranking: 130/187

HDI score: 0.591

Morocco has been seen as the front-runner in democratic transition in the Middle-east and North African region with its improved human rights and relatively open discussion of corruption and clientelism. In 2011, Morocco voted in favour of a new constitution stating that “territorial organization of the kingdom is decentralized” and “founded on an advanced regionalization” (IDEA, 2012). However, the issue of decentralization has not always gotten much attention and therefore the progress is still slow (Ottaway, 2013).


Local governance at a glance

  • The local government structure comprises 16 regions, provinces and prefectures, and urban and rural communes (Rao and Chakraborty, 2006).
  • Regions are administered by a Wali (governor), appointed by the King, and a regional council, elected by direct universal suffrage. Provinces are governed by local government authorities, appointed by the King, and an assembly, elected by municipal councils. Communes have an elected mayor and a municipal coun (GlobalSecurity, 2011).
  • The regional council has its own responsibilities and powers, a consultative role, and own responsibilities transferred by the State (UCLG, 2008).
  • The Ministry of the Interior has a responsibility for administration and supervision of local governments. Walis govern administrative regions and governors administer provinces (Carnegie, 2007).
  • Local authorities can legally request the cancellation of decision from central authorities in the case that trusteeship decisions can be appealed for abuse of power (UCLG, 2008).
  • Morocco has a 12 % quota for women at the communal elections. This gender quota was introduced by the 2008 reform through the creation of ‘additional electoral constituencies’ and ‘support fund for the promotion of women representativeness’ (Quota Project, 2013).

Civil society actors include

  • Association Jeunes pour Jeunes (AJJ) encourages civil movement of youth to reform democracy in Morocco by engaging youth in monitoring public policy and building capacity of youth organizations (AJJ, 2013).
  • The Center for Humanities Studies and Research (MADA) educates youth, promotes democratic values and dialogue between young people, and strengthens cooperations between both private and public local institutions (MADA, n.d).
  • By using a participatory development approach, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) empowers rural and disadvantaged communities, fosters partnerships, and offers training to support grassroots initiatives and promote development (HAF, 2014).

Capacity building institutions

Fiscal control

  • Local governments produce their own revenue, but also receive funds from the central government’s collected taxes and extra-budgetary resources such as loans (Rao and Chakraborty, 2006).
  • Local authorities can legally raise charges and taxes, but do not have fiscal control over setting taxes or deciding on taxable bases or rates. The central government holds responsibility for taxation and budgeting at all levels of administration (UCLG, 2008; GlobalSecurity, 2011).

Key initiatives for participatory local governance

  • The first step towards decentralization occurred in 1997 when country was divided into 16 regions (Ottaway, 2013).
  • In 1999, King Mohamed VI introduced new concept of authority which leaded to new culture of public service based on the respect for decentralized institutions and local liberties (JESR, 2010).
  • In 2000, a new Municipal Charter was adopted. It included the possibility for communes to create partnerships with NGOs and the extension of municipal councils’ responsibilities and powers (UCLG, 2008).
  • The 2005 National Initiative for Human Development promoted new participatory local governance mechanisms to empower communities and improve accountability and transparency in decision-making processes at the local level (Bergh, 2010).
  • In 2011, Morocco voted in favor of a new constitution stating that territorial organization of Morocco was to be decentralized, based on advanced regionalization. The constitution “establish[es] a constitutional monarchy with separation of powers” and ”enhanced responsibilities for local and regional governments” (Moroccan American Center, 2011).

Challenges for participatory local governance

  • Prefectures and provinces have limited power, almost no budgetary autonomy, and are tightly controlled by the central government. Thus, real decentralization is still not established (IDEA, 2012).
  • The central government is strongly represented on the local level as regional Walis are appointed rather than elected (IDEA, 2012).
  • Regionalization and decentralization, as stated by the new Constitution, must result in more than a shift of responsibilities. This should be accompanied by strong capacity-building efforts on the local level (AbiNader, 2013).

Recent posts on this website about this country:


List of sources :

AbiNader, J., 2013, IdeaCom: “Morocco’s CESE Project: Regionalization empowering local populations.”

Association Jeunes pour Jeunes (AJJ), 2014.

Bergh, S., 2010, Journal Economic and Social Research: “Assessing Local Governance Innovations in Morocco in Light of the Participatory Budgeting Experience in Brazil: The Case of ‘Civil Society’ Federations (Espaces Associatifs) in Al Haouz Province.”, 2011: “Morocco Government.”

International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), 2012, Madani, M., D. Maghraoui and S. Zerhouni: “The 2011 Moroccan Constitution: A Critical Analysis.”

Moroccan American Center, 2011: “FAQ: Reforms in Morocco.”

National Association of Local Governments of Morocco (ANCLM), n.d.

Ottaway, M., 2013: “Morocco: ‘Advanced Decentralization’ Meets the Sahara Autonomy Initiative.”

Quota Project, 2014: “Morocco.”

Rao, G. and L. Chakraborty, 2006: “Fiscal Decentralization and Local Level Gender Responsive Budgeting in Morocco: Some Observations.”

United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), 2008: “UCLG Country Profiles: Kingdom of Morocco.”