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Mouvement Populaire (MP)


pro-monarchy, overwhelmingly berber political party in morocco.

The Mouvement Populaire (MP) was organized in 19561957 in the Rif. Its supporters were Berber notables and tribesmen, some of whom belonged to the Army of Liberation, and small landholders. It was founded to oppose the political domination of newly independent Morocco by the Istiqlal Party and to serve as a mechanism for Berber political participation in cooperation with the monarchy. At the same time, the MP sought to avoid being cast as a purely Berber party, and so became the voice of the rural masses neglected by the Istiqlal. Its founders were Abdelkarim Khatib, a former head of the Arab Liberation Army (and ethnically an Arab), and Majoub Ahardane, the governor of Rabat province. The Istiqlal-dominated government arrested its leaders in April 1958 and blocked its legalization. The MP was finally registered as a legal political party in February 1959.

The relationship between the monarchy and the MP was strengthened during the early 1960s, following the ascension to power of Hassan II and the split in the Istiqlal. In 19621963, the MP was the only organized group within the monarchist coalition, which ran in the 1963 elections under the banner of the Front pour la Défense des Institutions Constitutionelles (FDIC). It thus was able to take advantage of the boycott of the 1963 elections by Istiqlal and the Union Nationale des Forces Populaires (UNFP) and to fill many of the positions in provincial assemblies, chambers of commerce, and communal councils. Its base of economic and political power was strengthened by the regime's policy of Moroccanizing large tracts of land that had been controlled by the French administration and settlers.

In 1965 the defection from the ruling coalition of a single MP member deprived the government of its majority, sparking a constitutional crisis that led to King Hassan's assumption of emergency powers. In 1967 the MP split over personality differences between Ahardane and Khatib; the latter's breakaway faction took the name Mouvement Populaire Démocratique et Constitutionelle (MPDC), which in the 1990s served as the legal basis for a primarily Islamist party sanctioned by the authorities. Ahardane was expelled from the MP in 1985 for "authoritarian practices," and the party was taken over by Mohand Laenser. In July 1991 Ahardane co-founded the rival Mouvement National Populaire (MNP). In the 1993 parliamentary elections the MP, competing as part of the loyalist Entente/Wifaq bloc, won a total of fifty-one seats, a gain of four from the 1984 elections, and in the government reshuffle of January 1995, it attained three cabinet seats. In the 1997 elections the MP dropped to forty seats and was left out of the new, left-of-center government. In the 2002 elections there was a further drop, with the party winning twenty-seven seats. Still, the party did attain three cabinet posts in the newly formed government, with party head Laenser receiving the agriculture and rural development portfolio. How the MP and other Berber-based parties would be affected by the emergence of a more assertive Berber culture movement remained an open question.

see also ahardane, majoub; arab liberation army; berber; front pour la dÉfense des institutions constitutionelles (fdic); istiqlal party: morocco; morocco: political parties in; rif; union nationale des forces populaires (unfp).


Ashford, Douglas E. Political Change in Morocco. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961.

Pennell, C. R. Morocco Since 1830. New York: New York University Press, 2000.

Waterbury, John. The Commander of the Faithful. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970.

bruce maddy-weitzman

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