Politically disengaged and economically frustrated, Moroccans do not trust each other, according to a recent study about social trust in Morocco. “Social trust in Morocco is particularistic and not generalized,” says the study, highlighting a sustained ecosystem of social and political mistrust in the country.
The study, conducted by the Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis (MIPA), found that family remains the “most trusted institution” in Morocco. 99% of those surveyed for the study said they trust members of their nuclear family, while 85% said the same thing about extended relatives.
However, outside of the family circle trust among Moroccans is “moderate” at best, non-existent at worst, and largely diminishing in most regards. “The more the social circle expands to include strangers, the less trust there is,” according to the study.
Specifically, 72% of the respondents said they do not trust people they meet for the first time, 67% do not trust people of other religions, and 64% do not trust people of other nationalities.
More telling, perhaps, are the study’s numbers about the considerable degree of mistrust Moroccans have of their friends and neighbors. Of those surveyed, 45% do not trust their neighbors, while 37% do not trust their friends.
The numbers and perceptions get even grimmer when it comes to political trust in Morocco. By and large, MIPA found, Moroccans distrust political institutions and think that political parties and their perceptibly corrupt elected officials are not doing enough to curb corruption and its associated social ills.
MIPA’s survey established “limited interest” in politics among Moroccans. 36% of the respondents stated that they follow politics with interest (3% follow politics closely, 33% somewhat follow politics), and 46% asserted that they do not follow politics at all.
With their consistently high distrust of politicians and political parties, most Moroccans barely participate in matters of public interest. 98% of the respondents said they are not affiliated to any political party, while only 18% said they voted in the country’s latest elections.
Meanwhile, 32% confirmed that they are considering voting in this year’s coming elections, while 64% said they do not consider voting in the elections at all. Even more, about 74% of Moroccans said they do not trust political parties, and 70% do not trust the parliament.
At this point, however, MIPA revealed an interesting development that may have inspired its study’s very title, “Crisis as an Opportunity to Build Trust.” The emergence of the COVID-19 crisis, and the government’s efforts to mitigate its socio-economic consequences, has increased Moroccans’ trust in the government.
Meanwhile, in contrast to the pointedly high distrust of elected politicians, “unelected sovereign institutions enjoy much higher levels of trust” in Morocco, the study found. “For Moroccans, the police and the army are the most trusted institutions,” it added. The study revealed that 86% of its respondents said they trust the police, whereas 89% said the same of the army.
Despite the avalanche of international reports about “political trials” or “the weaponization” of the Moroccan judiciary system to silence dissidents, the study established that the judiciary is the third most trusted public institution in Morocco.
While the level of trust in the country’s judicial system (61%) is far below that of the police and the army, it is high enough to entertain the suggestion that it is not as rotten and politically vassalized as some activists and rights advocacy groups may have argued in the past months.
But for all the relatively upbeat numbers, Moroccans still overwhelmingly believe that the government, and other related institutions, are not doing enough to purge corruption from public life.
While 35% of the respondents expressed their satisfaction with the government’s efforts to fight corruption, 52% believe that the government is not trying hard enough to decisively eradicate financial and political malfeasance.
This perception of pervasive political patronage and bribery deeply affects Moroccans’ take on their economic prospects and their perception of the country’s future. “The participants in this research expressed their continued dissatisfaction with Morocco’s general direction,” notes the study.
70% of the respondents expressed concerns about Morocco’s “general trend,” whereas 65% said they are frustrated with the country’s economic outlook.
The study comes as the Moroccan government appears to be looking for ways to make amends on the social and economic fronts to restore social and political trust, or at least to decrease the country’s ever widening political distrust gap. Morocco’s “new development model,” founded on the notion that the country needs “a new social contract,” is largely designed to tackle some of the issues highlighted in MIPA’s study.
In the past months, some Moroccan political actors have even spoken of the need to inspire “big breaks,” including a stark departure from corrupt political habits and the establishment of a “confidence pact,” to reconcile Moroccans with their government and elected officials.
But with report after report putting the spotlight on most Moroccans’ profoundly pessimistic perception of both their financial situation and the country’s economic outlook, it remains to be seen how the new development model will practically address most (ordinary) Moroccans’ concerns.