published on Journal of North African Studies 12 April 2018
After 2011, several Arab states initiated decentralisation reforms to address the demonstrators’ demands for more participative governance and more efficient public services. Taking Morocco’s new decentralisation reform as a case in point, this article assesses the requirements for, and impediments to, progress. It discovers that the reform articulates important democratic principles and formally opens new spaces of action that may facilitate more efficient and participative governance. However, historical legacies of centralised control, few opportunities for participation, low institutional capacities and weak accountability, and also unclear regulations within the reform, are still hindering effective decentralisation. The potentially positive impact of current reforms on political liberalisation is thus uncertain. Recent uprisings in the Rif region are symptomatic of the neglect of regional inequalities and grievances, and of related dissatisfaction. They also illustrate that increased regional autonomy can only alleviate the structural problems in the longer term and when thoroughly implemented.