To get young Moroccans more interested in government, the National Democratic Institute created parliamentary fellowships so that young people work closely with members of parliament and learn more about deliberation, citizen engagement, and government as a whole.
Problems and Purpose
The problems to be addressed by the process included the lack of Moroccan young people who are involved in government and the barriers to government participation that many young Moroccans experience. According to National Democratic Institute (NDI), “only 20 percent of Moroccans under 35 years old voted in the much-heralded 2011 parliamentary elections and even fewer are estimated to have voted in the subsequent 2016 elections." NDI found that while young Moroccans do care about government, evidenced by their participation in riots in the northern part of the country, very few of them are involved in the formal government processes. The aim of the fellowships was to remove the barriers young people faced while also exposing them to the day to day work of local MPs. The hope was that it would lead to more young people to participating in formal government processes.
Background History and Context
Young Moroccans, especially young women, are not very engaged in formal government processes. Participation in formal government processes is not only lacking in young Moroccan women; participation is also lacking in parliament itself evidenced by the low percentage of women serving in parliament. The Moroccan parliament is made up of mostly men MPs with just 20 percent of the Moroccan parliament being women who are serving as part of a quota program. The Moroccan government has tried to curb this by creating “regional youth councils and youth parliamentary lists”, but these organizations still have had trouble engaging young people.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The process was organized by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in partnership with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Eduardo Frei Foundation (EFF).
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The process involved civic engagement through parliamentary fellowships. The fellows were placed with women MPs from all parts of the country and worked on various issues for the MPs. In total 26 young Moroccans from all over the country participated in the five month long fellowships. According to NDI,“[t]he fellows, were identified through a competitive application process."
Methods and Tools Used
Once a fellow was selected they were given many tools to help them in their new jobs. Fellows “participated in a series of orientation and skills-building training sessions to prepare them to effectively support the MPs in areas such as legislative research, citizen outreach and database management." Fellows also received specialized training in social media such as “Wikithon” which helped the fellows develop Wikipedia pages for their MPs and youth. Other specialized training included a class on how to build Facebook pages for their MPs. According to NDI, another method used was to have the fellows actually attend meetings and committee hearings with their MPs. Fellows also took an active role in note taking and project planning. One fellow discussed her work saying she attended several meetings, took notes during committee hearings, and worked on project proposals. The fellows were not just making copies or getting coffee; they were fully engaged in every aspect of a MP’s work.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
While the fellows did not deliberate amongst themselves or make any major decisions, they were able to participate in other ways. According to NDI (2018), fellows were able to attend committee hearings where they observed MPs deliberate on an issue. Fellows were also able to deliberate different topics with their MPs and partake in deliberation through their work on proposed legislation, memos, and meeting notes. Fellows were able to interact with the public by helping MPs with program development like a medical caravan and posting on their member’s social media. All of these things helped their MPs interact with their constituency and made the MPs more effective public servants.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The influence that the fellowships had on the young Moroccans is undeniable. Fellows increased their understanding of Morocco’s political system and its operation, “processes and structures." The program also had an impact on the fellows’ knowledge of political processes and structures." According to NDI, before and after numbers also show a high percentage of fellows who now plan on being engaged in government thanks to their fellowships, including “95 percent of fellows [who] stated that they planned to get involved with political parties or civil society and 91 percent [who] expressed their intent to pursue a career in development or politics”. “The program also had an impact on the fellows’ professional trajectories; at the end of their terms, 95 percent of fellows stated that they planned to get involved with political parties or civil society and 91 percent expressed their intent to pursue a career in development or politics."
Participants’ professional trajectories were not the only things positively impacted. Fellows also demonstrated a higher understanding of their government after the fellowship. NDI (2018) found, the number of fellows who now know the difference between a parliamentary group and commission increased by more than 50 percent. The number of fellows that know the difference between the two chambers of parliament increased almost 60 percent.
The fellowships had an effect on the members of parliament as well. One MP was quoted as saying, "If [my fellow] weren’t assisting me, I would have [such a heavy] workload that I wouldn't be half as productive as I am today thanks to her help."
Overall the fellowships have proven to be an effective tool not only for the fellows, but for the MPs they are assigned to as well.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
NDI (2018) was able to show quantitative data that proves the fellowships accomplished what they set out to do. The young Moroccans who participated in the fellowships not only learned about their government but were also able to actively participate in it. Before and after surveys show how much the fellows learned and how much more engaged they are and plan to be in the future. The fellowships have also had an impact on the MPs themselves saying the fellows helped them be better, more efficient government servants. The fellowships, according to the fellows and the MPs, have increased their capacity for civic and political engagement. It would also seem that the fellowships helped not only the individual MPs but parliament as a whole when it comes to deliberation and its day to day functions.
 National Democratic Institute. (2018, July 3). Morocco’s young parliamentary fellows work to advance women’s political participation. National Democratic Institute. Retrieved from https://www.ndi.org/our-stories/morocco-s-young-parliamentary-fellows-work-advance-women-s-political-participation
This case study was written by Zach Baumgarten, a Master of Public Service candidate at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and then edited. The views expressed in this case study are those of the authors, editors, or cited sources, and are not necessarily those of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.