We’ve each voted for different reasons. Some voted with their emotions others used some kind of logical explanation. Some voted Yes because they are diehard optimists, others voted No because they are simply wired to oppose. Some voted based on their status, others based on their gender, and yet many others based on their ideology, political party, religious beliefs or ethnicity. Some didn’t vote at all and couldn’t care less about the whole constitutional reform saga. But many made it a point to boycott. None is wrong, and each vote or abstention was done for just the right reasons: personal reasons. Maybe you voted Yes because you believe in the reform, or you voted Yes because your best friend voted Yes? Or, you voted NO while you really wanted to say Yes, because you like the new constitution, but just not the way the reform, debate, and referendum were handled.
But if a tailor-made constitution doesn’t exist, is there is any decency in claiming a 98% yes win figure? Or is it really the boycott effect?
Regardless of the turnout or the scope of reforms, each one of us dreams that democracy can bring just that: decency, and maybe also dignity and why not separation of power. Could the whole constitutional process and adoption have been done in decency and yet lead to a considerable Yes win? I believe so. That’s why I have a sense of missed opportunity. A show for transparency and inclusiveness would have strengthened the Mennouni Commission. A more balanced Yes and No campaign would have changed nothing to the outcome, and there was no reason to rush the vote. I am confident that the yes would have won either way. Why? Because in these times of crisis, many would have thought that something is better than nothing; and a democratic process (more than a democratic constitution) would have confirmed a strong desire for genuine change. A more open process would have ensured that the majority of Moroccans have a solid stake in the outcome, and thus make sure that the choice of the majority is widely respected. It would have been a low cost, low risk show of genuine democratic commitment. Obviously, we wouldn’t have a 98% approval rate, but we would have a decent Yes.
I didn’t vote because there are no polling stations in my area. Still, I would have voted No. Surprisingly, I am not upset that the Yes vote won. Not because I expected it; Of course, I expected it! But because I thought that the preamble was a big improvement from former constitutions, and I didn’t expect full separation of powers anyway. The optimist in me read the new constitution as a message saying “Take your rights. I keep political power for now.” Then the same optimist ventured to dream: “The King may have the intention of turning into a sort of unity figure sometime in the next few years. In practice, he will relinquish his powers, but on paper, he is just not ready for that yet.” Yes, the skeptical in me did snap: really? You are so naïve! Yes, my naiveté has no limits… but I am not ready to get rid of it yet, it’s called hope, call it helpless hope, and it protects me against bitterness.
I can’t help overcoming my bitterness though when I think of police violence, harassment, when I see that the basic rules for a fair, open and transparent, debate and referendum were not met. I am really bitter that shmakriya have finally been fulfilling a considerable social role, but unfortunately not the glamorous kind. How can I not jump to bitter conclusions?
I would have voted NO. Still, I have no problem with the YES nor with the boycott as I believe in believing. And at the end of the day, I do feel the same way as the Yes voters, the No voters and the boycotters all at once. They all want some change, and they are all convinced that nothing will change until some things change. Beyond the constitution, that change involves decency, and it starts with all of us.