Morocco has a long and complicated history which goes back many thousands of years. In 780 it became a part of the Idrisid Dynasty, the first Islamic state.
Under various dynasties it has been invaded and fought over by the Portuguese, Ottomans and then later the British and Spanish.
In 1912 the Treaty of Fez divided Morocco into a French and a Spanish protectorate. It wasn’t until 1956 that independence was secured from the French and then Spain.
The first king was Mohammed V, who built a new constitutional structure and assumed the title in 1957. In 1961 he was succeeded by his son, Hassan II, who introduced a ‘state of exception’ where the king had full executive and legislative powers.
In 1963 there were elections which were won by the Front for Defence of Constitutional Institutions (FDIC), but the parliament was dissolved in 1965.
The country had to wait until 1970 for constitutional changes which restored some parliamentary government and fresh elections were held. These elections were won by the Independent Party or Istiqlal, who took 159 of 240 seats in the Assembly of Representatives.
However, parliament was dissolved once more in 1972 and fresh elections weren’t held until 1977. In those elections the Independents won 141 of 264 seats.
Elections which should have taken place in 1983 were delayed until 1984 because of complications in the Western Sahara conflict, but were eventually won by the Constitutional Union with 82 of 301 seats.
Again there were delays with elections scheduled for 1990, partly because of Western Sahara and partly because of a referendum on another new constitution. The Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) were the eventual winners in the 1993 poll, taking 52 of 333 seats, even though they were the second largest party behind the Constitutional Union.
By 1997 a bicameral parliament was in place and the USFP won with 57 of the 325 seats.
King Hassan II died in 1999 and was replaced by the more liberal minded Mohammed VI. The new king started well with a number of reforms, including a liberalisation of some rights for women.
In 2002 the USFP won again with 50 of 325 seats but in 2007 were replaced by the Independent Party (Istiqlal) who took 52 seats and formed a new coalition.
In 2011, with the explosion of the Arab Spring, the King decided that further reforms should be enacted to give parliament more powers, notably that the prime minister should come from the majority party and the cabinet will be chosen by the premier (formerly both were done by the king). The people agreed with the king, with 98% giving their approval to a change in the constitution in a referendum held on 1st July.
King Mohammed VI is Head of State
There is a bicameral Parliament with an Assembly of Councillors and an Assembly of Representatives. The Assembly of Councillors has 270 members and is elected for a nine year term indirectly elected by local councils (162 members), professional chambers (91 members) and labour organisations (27 members) with one third of the members elected every three years. The Assembly of Representatives has 325 members elected in multi-seat constituencies (295 members) and from a national list of women (30members) to serve a five year term.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places Morocco at joint 90th out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 37 (where 100 is least corrupt).