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Moroccan Unified Socialist Party holds first party congress in seven years

Sunny Rabat and Bouznika were the setting for the fourth party congress of the Unified Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste Unifié, PSU) from 19 to 21 January. An important congress as it voted on the party's direction and the leadership of Nabila Mounib, the only female party leader in the Arab world. The Max van der Stoel Foundation has been organising training courses for activists and politicians of this leftist and progressive Moroccan party for just under a decade.

On Friday evening, the party congress opened grandly at the National Mohammed V Theatre in Rabat. More than 2,000 enthusiastic members had gathered here to listen to speeches by party founder Mohamed Bensaid Ait Idder, the Palestinian representative in Morocco and party leader Nabila Mounib. In her impassioned speech, Mounib insisted that the PSU must work hard for gender equality, transforming Morocco into a parliamentary democracy and accessibility to healthcare. According to her, education should reduce class disparities, while the current government's policies increase them. The most fraught moment of the evening was the speech by Hirak father Nassar Zefzafi, leader of the protests in the Rif region. The tear-stricken father was cheered with "Long live the Rif" and "Long live the people" as he spoke of the injustice being done to the people and his son's struggle against it.


A new horizon

During the sessions at the convention centre in Bouznika, a small town between Rabat and Casablanca, there was much discussion among the 900 members present. These included input that anonymous voting should be introduced and a strong call for more young activists, or as they say in Morocco "des militants", in day-to-day governance. The PSU has managed to initiate a vibrant party democracy.

The main vote is on the three proposed 'platforms'. This will determine the direction of the party: To cooperate or not to cooperate with the Islamic Party for Justice and Development (PJD), whether or not to give a new mandate to party leader Nabila Mounib, whether or not to have a quota for women and young people for the party leadership and the party council. In the end, the members decide in a night vote that the platform "Nouvel Horizon" led by Nabila Mounib will become the party line. The two other platforms, "Parité" and "Changement démocratique" will still have a say, their 16% and 4% account for a proportional number of seats in the National Council.  


Get involved!

Not surprisingly, so many members choose to continue under the leadership of the charismatic Nabila Mounib. For instance, Khadija, a member of the party for a year, says she was inspired by her leadership. She had previously had little interest in politics and did not see her values reflected in any of the other parties. At the PSU, she feels at home precisely because she feels an equal to the male members. Still, she regrets that the party is not able to attract more women to its fold. The ratio of women to men is at least 1 to 6. This is also where the PSU has a lot to gain.

Therefore, FMS will continue to work in Morocco in the coming years to give more women and young people the skills to be politically active and develop. We will do this together with other European political foundations through our project "Get involved! Women empowerment in Morocco".  

Jaron Liplijn, Foundation Max van der Stoel