Who should control the budget?

Written by
  • tarikn
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Who is really ruling the country? Is it the political party with the most ministerial seats, or the one with the most influential ones? And how do we measure the relative weight of a ministry?

Morocco’s government, as in many countries around the globe, consists of a coalition of political parties. Unlike the United States, no single party controls the government alone, which leaves the opportunity for negotiations and maneuvers to split the ministerial seats. For example, the Istiqlal Party recently began criticizing the draft of the 2014 budget law, despite having earlier authored it before deciding to leave the government and switch to the opposition.

In the political lingo, democracy is to many people synonymous to ‘number of seats’. We are becoming familiar with terms such as ‘majority’ or ‘minority’ based on the number of ‘seats’ of the parliament. Last month, the Moroccan Head of Government, Mr. Benkirane, negotiated the formation of a new coalition government. His party, PJD, kept most of the ministerial seats since they were the majority party. Yet it was disturbing to analyze the budget data distributed by ministers’ political party affiliation: Only 8% of the budget spending is directly controlled by the Ministers of the majority political party. More than half of the budget is under ministers with no political affiliation (e.g. Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Agriculture).

One would wonder if the citizen should have any voice on who shall control the budget. Today, we are asking citizens to get engaged on democratic practices, vote for the best profiles and programs, and accept the rule of the majority. Though the majority party has most of the ministerial seats, they have no power over the economic agenda. Is this a matter of concern? Are there any international practices for tying the citizens’ vote with budget control?

The budget discussion raises new questions about the meaning of representative democracy. These questions and others are warranting the distrust of politics in Morocco and the call for more transparency and accountability.