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Cablegate: Inter-Party Politics Leaves Women by the Wayside

VZCZCXRO8762
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHGI RUEHJS RUEHKUK RUEHLH
RUEHPW RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHRB #0932/01 3291432
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251432Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0855
INFO RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 4767

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RABAT 000932

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR G, G/IWI, NEA/MAG, NEA/PI AND DRL/NESCA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SOCI KWMN KDEM MO
SUBJECT: INTER-PARTY POLITICS LEAVES WOMEN BY THE WAYSIDE
IN UPPER HOUSE ELECTIONS

REF: A. RABAT 0517
B. RABAT 0607
C. RABAT 0858
D. RABAT 0877

1. (SBU) Summary: Unlike the June communal elections in
which, through the aid of a 12 percent quota, women won an
unprecedented number of regional and city council seats,
female candidates fared poorly in the successive rounds of
indirect voting, including for parliament,s upper house
election in October. Political parties refused to support
women candidates as they had in the communal elections,
instead turning to horse trading and maneuvering to gain
strategic positions. Some female politicians attributed this
lack of support to resentment over what their male colleagues
believed to be an unfair advantage during the earlier
elections. Interparty rivalries and the fatigue of the
women's movement following the local council elections also
played a role. The failure of parties to support more women
illustrates that, despite ongoing reforms, women still have a
long way to go to advance their participation in Morocco,s
political processes. The Mission will continue to support
the newly elected women, through MEPI-funded leadership and
management training, in order to ensure that those women who
were elected have the tools they need to succeed. End
Summary.

-----------------------
Limited Gains for Women
-----------------------

2. (U) In contrast to the communal (local council) elections
in June, in which 12 percent of seats were reserved for women
and a dozen women were elected to head local councils as
mayors or mayor-equivalents, female candidates fared poorly
in the successive rounds of indirect elections, for which
there were no quotas. Women gained only three additional
seats in the indirect upper house election in October,
bringing the total number of women in that chamber to six
(two percent). The government has not yet released
information on the number of women elected indirectly to
regional, provincial or national positions, but anecdotal
information suggests that the numbers will not remotely
represent the same kind of advances seen in the communal
contests.

-----------------------------
Women Politicians Exasperated
-----------------------------

3. (SBU) Many female politicians had hoped that the large
influx of elected women in local councils would pave the way
for greater representation in the upper house. Council
members serve as "electors" in all subsequent rounds of
indirect balloting -- including for the upper house -- and
many had expected that the influx of 12 percent of women into
those councils would translate into additional seats at
higher levels. However, this was not the case. Khadija
Rouissi, Chief of the Ethics Committee for the Party of
Authenticity and Modernity (PAM), called the upper house
election "catastrophic" for female politicians. She and
other politicians and activists unanimously blamed the
political parties for failing to support their own female
candidates. During the local elections, for example, 20
percent of the PAM candidates were women. In contrast,
during the election to the upper house, few parties supported
women candidates for leadership positions.

4. (SBU) Despite the fact that, according to the GOM, the
newly elected women hold a higher average level of education
than their male counterparts, the political parties did only
"the bare minimum" in terms of providing support during the
successive elections, USPF activist Fatima El Maghnaoui
observed. Anissa Naqrachi, a human rights activist and
cousin of PAM founder Fouad Ali El Himma, said that the
refusal of the parties to help their own female candidates
indicated a backlash from many male party stalwarts. "There
was a lot of resistance" to further advancements by women,
she said. Naqrachi opined that some male politicians viewed
the quota for female candidates in the June communal
elections as an unfair advantage, even though the poor
showing of female candidates in the successive elections had
clearly demonstrated the need.

------------------------------------------
Interparty Jostling Triumphs over Ideology
------------------------------------------

RABAT 00000932 002 OF 002

5. (SBU) Other observers who were heavily involved in the
communal elections explained that the parties returned to
politics as usual once the stakes were higher and there was
no longer a quota to fill. In other words, parties were more
focused on gaining strategic seats in regional councils and
the upper house than standing for principle (see reftels).
In the face of PAM's rising political prowess, most parties
sought to maintain their influence in elected bodies.
Another contributing factor may have been that the women's
movement had exhausted all of its resources on the communal
elections and had been disappointed when the number of women
elected barely surpassed the 12 percent quota as they had
anticipated.

-------
Comment
-------

6. (SBU) The introduction of quotas for women in the
communal elections and other reforms have dramatically
increased women,s participation in electoral politics in
Morocco. However, the poor showing of women in subsequent
rounds of indirect balloting illustrates that they still have
a long way to go. Much resistance remains to female
leadership, both within the political parties and among the
society at large. The Mission will continue to support the
newly elected women, through Middle East Partnership
Initiative- (MEPI-)funded leadership and management training,
in order to ensure that those women who were elected are able
to better develop the tools they need to expand their
political participation. End Comment.


*****************************************
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website;
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Moro cco
*****************************************

JACKSON

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