“Entrepreneurs” in politics :
the case of Morocco
From “State and business” to “Entrepreneurs in politics ?”
• “Entrepreneurs” ?
Formation of a social category following specific processes (privatization,
economic liberalization, reform of business law, etc.) and a new frame of
– 1990s in Morocco : In media, political and sociological analysis, “Entrepreneurs”
came into the state, when the twilight of the “State bourgeoisie” or the “parasite
bourgeoisie” is predicted.
– This category (more than group or class) is related to economic liberalism and
expresses one of the main aims of the reform : the rise of an “absent” middle
class autonomous from the State and the administration, and able to invest and
to product, in a context where the “gospel” of state interventionism is converted
into that of “liberalism”
– Are the “entrepreneurs” the new “defenders of the throne” in the context of
Moroccan structural adjustment (since 1983) and economic liberalization (UE
free trade agreement 2000 / US free trade agreement : 2004) ?
• From State to politics (… and policies) :
State-centered approach in the MENA :
The state-centered approach used to view the State as more or less autonomous vis-à-vis
the Society, thanks to its exogenous rents :
After the independence, because the State was a “developer” or a “demiurge”
In the wake of the financial crisis, because it was seen as “tutelary” and “predatory”
This feeds into the neo-patrimonial scheme, which put tend to qualify the “public” character of
“We are the State” : personalization and appropriation of public action (and public
“They are the State” : they = a special group, with specific and non collective interests.
Entering into the “black box” of the State by questioning politics and policies :
What transformations in politics in the context of economic liberalization ? Elites structures,
coalitions, winners and losers of reforms, interest groups, etc.
What transformation in policies ? How are public and private references articulated, incl.
centralized and decentralized political processes, economic and political interests, when
requirements for development seem to compete with the logics of representation ?
Looking at the readjustment of professional relationships and social policies
Examining the process of “decentralizing the development”
1/ Privatizations in Morocco :
A textbook case ?
A – “path dependence” : a State capitalism tinted with liberal
State capitalism and Neo-Patrimonialism : the multiple roles of the “Palace”
Examples of the intricate relations between public and private affairs :
- The Omnium Nord Africain (ONA), mainly held by the King’s family
- The trajectory of former Prime Minister M. Karim Lamrani, president of the Office chérifien
des Phosphates, the main State-owned firm, and CEO of large private corporations as
The thesis of the ex nihilo “emergence” of social groups and its limitations
• After independence, contrary to other countries in the region, no land reform
dismantled the old land bourgeoisie : Hassan II look for their support in front
of nationalist urban elites.
• Throughout the 20th century, parallel with the emergence of a private group
developed under the umbrella of the State, an “old” merchant bourgeoisie
remained and diversified its activities, as wall as invested political
B- Morocco : a unique perspective on liberal reform in the
region considering both the specificity of its privatization
program and its level of achievement.
In the beginning of the 1990’s, R. Springborg, among others, anticipated a
great social transformation, in the wake of liberalization :
“the way thus has been clearly ideologically and politically for a resurgence
of the bourgeoisie. The new orthodoxy of development, which calls for
exported growth under private sector auspices, champions bourgeois
But contrary to what was predicted, the important cession and sales of
public enterprises to Moroccan or foreign investors did not give rise to a
“new middle class”.
Privatization list concerns the most important economic sectors of the country :
hotel or firms in difficulties but also the main companies in the sector of finance,
banking and insurance, mining and cement, transportations, etc. not to mention
the cession of telecoms, water and electricity supply, etc.
Except the foreign investment, few Moroccan privileged groups benefited from
the program, and mainly ONA, close to the Palace.
The concentration of capitals with the help of privatization has multiple reasons :
• Arbitrary, discretionary and clientelistic practices in the process
• More mechanical effects of the credit and financial structures.
“Regimes have been quite adept at maintaining patronage coalitions and
determining the mechanisms by which public and external resources are
divvied up. The most they “deregulate” the most they “re-regulate” by
determining precisely who can most easily benefit from change and join
distributional coalition to tap profits in the market” (B. Dillman).
2/ Readjusting public-private sector
relationships and reorganizing policies and
In the context of privatization, the “entry into politics” of Moroccan
“entrepreneurs” shows the ambivalence of the formation of new
actors in the market and in the public action.
Their commitment into politics during the 1990’s took two major
institutionalization of a corporatist system of representation and
participation in social negotiations
Investment in the “political market”
A/ Institutionnalization of a professional association :
A voice :
During liberalization, new narratives appear that used to combine
- a narrative about the entrepreneurship
- a narrative from entrepreneurs : some people speak in the name of corporate
An association : The « Confédération générale des enterprises du Maroc”
Created in the 1940’s, CGEM became a real and apparently powerful
corporatist organization :
In 1994, a new “unexpected” team took over control
The team started a two-pronged process :
- reform of the association, especially in terms of representativeness
- institutionalization as a social partner :
For the first time in Morocco, employers (CGEM) are represented in the
social negotiations and sign agreements with Labor unions.
The (fragile) triangularization of negotiation broke the history of face-to-face
with the government and of labor confrontation.
The development of the association consolidated and strengthened the
existence of « entrepreneurs » whose the new and atypical leaders
pretended to be the « spokesman ».
Two consequences :
In a context of social troubles and rapid transformation of labor
market, social conflicts are transferred from the public and political
arena into the private enterprise.
After long years of bargaining, a new labor code is adopted in 2003
(just after the attacks at Casablanca and the national elections in
2002 where PJD demonstrated its strength).
=>Employers and labor unions are in a position to establish norms.
They gained a certain autonomy in negotiations.
A political issue :
See : World Bank, Unlocking the employment potential in Middle
East and North Africa : toward a new social contract ?
What about the transformation of the social contract in the region
and especially the “authoritarian” pact based on the capacity of the
State to redistribute and to employ young and graduate people ?
What about the embryonic social protection ?
=> in the case of Morocco, the State is on the tightrope but does not
Ex: The National initiative for human development.
The State has relinquished its interventions, esp. with respect to
granting large loans to private sectors and NGOs, but keeps control
of economic management and of social regulation.
B/ The electoral adventure and the “technocratization” of
government : “economization” and “depolitization” of public
In the context of liberalization and privatization, employers and
heads of companies have been involved in local and national
political competitions (in 1997 and 2002) :
In the two chambers they now account for the bulk of MPs.
– Among the candidates who have been elected, they are over-
represented as a socio-professional category.
– It is a conservative elite, elected in the south and in the trade-
– Two kinds of factors :
• Huge financial means compare to others both to campaign and,
sometimes, to buy votes
• The “economization” of politics : entrepreneurial and economic
abilities and skills seemed to be helpful and legitimized to manage a
political career or to invest public action.
This kind of “economization of politics” can be also examined in the
trend to appoint “technocrats” from the direction of public or private
company to national or local political responsibilities.
• Example 1 : the present Prime minister is a businessman
close to the CGEM, former chancellor. He has been
appointed Minister of the Interior (2001) then Prime Minister
(2002) when leaders of political party were quarrelling for the
• Example 2 : In the name of “decentralizing development”, the
“technowalis” – prefets – have been appointed in 2001 at the
head of the regions’ prefectures in a context of
decentralization reforms – 2003 reform – where elected
mayors could expected more autonomy.
- Paradoxes of privatization
- Complexity of the reshaping of « public » and « private »
- Consequences at the level of public action :
Marginalization of the representatives ?
Shifts in terms of rights and duty :
What kind of territorial equity and continuity (espacially as regards the
« decentralization of development » and the request of « civil society »)
What kind of social and political of citizenship ?