Moroccans vote in a referendum today on a draft constitution drawn up at the orders of King Mohammed VI, with activists who demand a reduction in the monarch’s powers calling for a boycott of the vote.
Under the proposal, the prime minister would be chosen from the party that wins elections. The king would retain the power to overrule or dissolve the parliament, and his role as “commander of the faithful” in the Islamic country. Polls open at 8 a.m. local time and close at 7 p.m., with 13 million people eligible to vote. It’s not clear when results will be announced.
The constitution was drawn up at King Mohammed’s orders in response to pro-democracy protests that echoed the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets to support the draft, calling it a step toward democratization. There were also demonstrations against it, with critics objecting to the fact that the drafting committee was appointed by the king, and saying the changes don’t go far enough.
“The constitution will be approved,” said Mohamed Darif, a political science professor at Hassan II University near Casablanca. “This is not the constitution of a democratic phase. But it’s a constitution that paves the way for a democratic phase.”
Announcing the draft, King Mohammed said it will “make Morocco a state that will distinguish itself by its democratic course.” The country’s biggest political parties, including the Islamist Justice and Development Party and the Union of Popular Forces, have backed the text.