Morocco is a hereditary monarchy ruled since 1666 by the Alawite dynasty. A constitution was adopted in 1962 and revised in 1970, 1972, 1980, 1992, and 1996. The 1992 amendments created a Constitutional Council and parliamentary investigation committees and also reduced the age for full legal citizenship from 21 to 20. The 1996 amendments created a bicameral legislature.
Under the new provisions, approved by a referendum on September 13, 1996, the entire membership of the House of Representatives (Majlis al-Nuwwab) is subjected to direct suffrage. The new amendments also enhanced the government’s accountability before the parliament. Previously one-third of the House was indirectly elected.
Separation of Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Powers
The Moroccan constitution of 1996 vests supreme executive power in the king, whose person is sacred and inviolable. The king appoints a prime minister and, upon his advice, the cabinet. The king also presides over cabinet meetings and can terminate the cabinet. The prime minister and the cabinet are answerable to the king and to parliament.
The constitution vests sovereignty in the Moroccan people who exercise it directly, by means of referendum, or indirectly through their elected representatives. The constitution declares Morocco to be a multi-party system. Political parties, unions, district councils and trade chambers participate in the organization and representation of the citizens.
The constitution also establishes an independent judiciary, headed by the Supreme Court and appointed by the king, an Economic and Social Council to be consulted by the government as well as by the parliament on all matters of economic or social nature, and a High Audit Council.
The Moroccan constitution embraces a system of checks and balances in the relationship between the king and the parliament. The king may dissolve the parliament. He may also request a second reading by the two chambers of any draft bill or proposed law, and such a new reading may not be refused. After a second reading, the king may, by royal decree, submit any draft bill or proposed law to referendum, except in the case of those submitted for a new reading which are adopted or rejected by a two-thirds majority of the members of each chamber. The results of the referendum are binding upon all.
Checks also exist between the legislative and the executive branches. The two chambers of the parliament may indict members of the government and refer them to the High Court of Justice for trial. Any proposed indictment must be signed by at least a quarter of the members of the chamber in which it was initiated. The High Court of Justice consists of equal numbers of members elected from both chambers. Its president is appointed by royal decree.
The cabinet declares martial law, war, issues statutory decrees, and drafts bills, before they are brought to one of the two chambers. The king may formally declare war only after notifying parliament.
All Moroccan citizens are declared equal before the law, and men and women enjoy equal political rights. The constitution guarantees all citizens freedom of worship, movement, opinion and expression in all its forms, freedom of association, public gathering, and the freedom to belong to any union or political group of their choice within the limits of the law. The document promises equality of opportunity in employment and education, the right to strike, and the right of private property and free enterprise. On July 30, 2005 King Mohammed VI introduced a constitutional amendment on the citizenship law that gives children of Moroccan women married to non-Moroccans the right to obtain the Moroccan citizenship.
The constitution establishes a Constitutional Council consisting of twelve members. The king appoints six of them for a non-renewable period of nine years. After consulting with parliamentary groups the president of the House of Representatives and the president of the House of Counselors each appoint three members, one of whom is renewed every three years. The king selects the chairman of the Constitutional Council among the members appointed by him.
The Constitutional Council decides on the validity of the election of the members of the parliament and of referendum operations. Organic laws and the rules of procedure of each parliamentary chamber are also submitted to the Constitutional Council before going into effect. The king, the prime minister, the presidents of the two chambers of the parliament or one-fourth of the members making up one of the chambers may refer any other law to the Council before it is promulgated. The decisions of the Constitutional Council are final and binding on all.
Constitutional Amendments and Procedures
The king and the parliament have the right to initiate a revision of the constitution. The king also may submit an amendment directly to referendum. A proposal for revision submitted by one or more members of one of the two chambers is adopted only if voted on by a two-thirds majority of the members of the chamber concerned. The proposal is submitted to the other chamber, which may adopt it by a two-thirds majority of its members. A revision of the constitution becomes definite after approval by referendum. The articles of the constitution on the regime of monarchy and on Islam may not be revised.
Morocco is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).