Union Nationale Des Forces Populaires (UNFP)

views updated


One of Morocco's leading leftist political parties.

The Union Nationale des Forces Populaires (National Union of Popular Forces, UNFP) was founded in December 1959 by progressive and leftist elements of the Istiqlal Party, Morocco's most important nationalist force. Among its founders were Mehdi Ben Barka; Abdullah Ibrahim (prime minister from 1959 to 1960); Mahjoub Ben Seddiq (secretary-general of the Union Marocaine du Travail [Moroccan Labor Union], UMT); Abderrahmane Youssoufi; Mohamed Fqih Basri; and Abderrahim Bouabid. Following two failed coup attempts in 1971 and 1972, the government arrested many UNFP members and placed them on trial. In 1972, internal disputes led to the emergence of two blocs within the party: the Casablanca group led by Ibrahim, and the Rabat section led by Bouabid. During 1973, a series of detentions forced the Rabat group to put its activities on hold for a period of four months. The political turmoil led to severe divisions within the party, causing the UNFP section in the city of Rabat to split from the party and found a new party, the Union Socialiste des Forces Populaires (Socialist Union of Socialist Forces, USFP), in 1974. Because most of the UNFP's members joined the USFP, the remnant UNFP headed by Ibrahim became an insignificant party under the guidance of the UMT. The UNFP boycotted the 1977 elections and the municipal and parliamentary elections of 1983 and 1984.

The ideology of the UNFP was socialist, calling for a transformation of the social structure, nationalization of the means of production, greater rewards for workers, and land reform. It consistently opposed the leadership of King Hassan II and called for the creation of a representative democracy. In the international arena, the UNFP supported Arab unity within a socialist democratic framework, favored developing nation revolutionary movements, and opposed Western involvement in the national economy. Strongly nationalist, the party and its successor, the USFP, unconditionally supported the government line in Western Sahara and refused to agree to any form of settlement that would relinquish Moroccan sovereignty rights over the territory.

Ben Barka served as the UNFP's general secretary until his assassination in France in 1965. The party's principal leadership structure consisted of a central committee, an administrative commission, and a general secretariat. In 1967, the UNFP created a political bureau composed of Bouabid, Ibrahim, and Ben Seddiq, which the party's administrative commission dissolved in 1972. The leadership of the UNFP was often divided. The party held its second and last national congress in 1963. The UMT provided most of the party's infrastructure at the local level.

After briefly heading the government in 1959 and 1960, the UNFP joined the opposition. At the height of its power during the early 1960s, it won 414 out of 765 seats in the 1960 local elections and 28 out of 144 seats in the 1963 parliamentary elections. Severe repression after 1962 and a split with the UMT caused it to lose much of its strength during the late 1960s.

The UNFP had a diverse membership united more by a commonality of interests than a common ideology. Second-generation nationalists from the Istiqlal with modest family backgrounds and French educations held top positions. Professionals, teachers, and government workers composed much of the party's middle-level hierarchy. Rank and file members were largely trade union members and students. Wealthy members of the UNFP provided most of its financing. It had a diverse constituency, attracting its greatest support from workers living in Atlantic coast cities and from government cadres, students, and traders in the Sousse region.

see also ben barka, mehdi; bouabid, abderrahim; ibrahim, abdullah; istiqlal party: morocco; union socialiste des forces populaires (usfp); youssoufi, abderrahmane.


Waterbury, John. The Commander of the Faithful: The Moroccan Political EliteA Study in Segmented Politics. New York: Columbia University Press; London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1970.

bradford dillman
updated by vanesa casanova-fernandez

About this article

Union Nationale Des Forces Populaires (UNFP)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article


Union Nationale Des Forces Populaires (UNFP)