Morocco Government and Politics

State and politics

Morocco Country Flag

Morocco is a monarchy where the king belongs to the Alawite lineage that has ruled the country since 1666. Some democratic reforms have been implemented since the 1990s.


Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with a strong position for the monarch. He, by the assertion of “the leader of the faithful” (amir al-muminin), is the nation’s highest representative, appoints the government responsible for him, leads the judiciary and is the country’s commander-in-chief. Islam is state religion and the prayer of believers is said in the king’s name. Since 1999, Muhammad VI is king.

The Spanish retreat in 1975 from colonial possessions in Western Sahara, south of Morocco, would change the conditions of Moroccan politics. The entire elite within the opposition parties, and apparently also large sections of the population, supported King Hassan II’s view that an independent Western Sahara posed a danger to Morocco. Large crowds were mobilized to march into Western Sahara (the “green march”), and the Moroccan army, formerly a threat to the regime, was locked in these desert areas. The political unity in the Sahara issue has led the opposition to de facto recognize the constitutional foundations.

International criticism of the legal situation in the country led to the release of a number of political prisoners during the first years of the 1990s, several of them jailed for opposition to the occupation of Western Sahara. Requirements, among other things from the European Parliament, and the will of the domestic opposition to strengthen its position, led in 1992 to a revision of the Constitution by referendum. The result is, in principle, a more independent role for Parliament, which from now on can put a vote of no confidence in the government and also submit its own legislative proposals.

Constitutional changes in 2011 further strengthened Parliament’s position. Another change is that the king must appoint the leader of parliament’s largest party as prime minister. Parliament’s lower house, the House of Representatives has 395 members. The term of office of the members is five years. Of these, at least 60 must be women. Thirty places are reserved for men under 40. The upper house, the advisory chamber, has 120 members elected indirectly for six years.


In 1993, the first parliamentary elections were held under the new constitution but some clear majority conditions could not be crystallized and the subsequent elections were challenged by the opposition. However, in 1998 under the socialist Abderrahmane Youssoufi, for the first time, a government was formed consisting of a broad coalition of the major opposition parties and a series of small parties close to the royal power.

Because of the legitimacy that the king derives from the origin of the Alawite dynasty in Mecca and his relationship with Muhammad and its role in the area since the 1600s, as well as an effective security police, the Islamist opposition had far less success than in North Africa in general. However, the housing and unemployment problems of the 1990s gave the Islamist charities a strong position. The influence of Islamism on universities was also strengthened.

The unemployment of educated youth, the great socio-economic divisions and the undecided situation in Western Sahara were the major challenges facing the new King Muhammad VI upon his accession in 1999. Islamic terrorism has become one of the country’s most serious domestic political problems during the 2000s.

In the 2002 parliamentary elections, the socialist party Union socialiste des forces populaire (USFP) again became the largest party and continued to rule in coalition with, among other things, the second election, the nationalist party Istiqlal. In 2007, Istiqlal assumed the position of Parliament’s largest party and its leader Abbas al-Fassi was appointed head of a government that included, among others, the USFP.

The protests that spread under the name of the Arab Spring over, among other things, North Africa in 2011 also reached Morocco, but the monarchy was never really questioned. The king agreed to some concessions and, after changes in the constitution, gave up certain powers in favor of Parliament. The Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJP), which was the third largest party in 2002 and the second largest in 2007, received 107 and thus most of the 395 seats in Parliament in the 2011 election. In accordance with the revised constitution, the King appointed PJP’s leader Abdelilah Benkiran as prime minister. PJP strengthened its position in the 2016 elections, when the party was given 125 seats, and Benkiran could remain as head of government.


In Morocco there are small courts, regional courts, appellate courts and a supreme court, to which are added some special courts. The legal system is largely codified, and it is inspired by Islamic and French law. The death penalty remains in the legislation but is de facto abolished in 1993.

Heads of State


1956-61 Muhammad V *
1961-99 Hassan II
1999- Muhammad VI

* Sultan 1956–57, King from 1957.

Morocco Head of Government

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