The 2004 reform of the family code in Morocco has been held as one of the most significant liberal reforms undertaken in the country, and has led scholars and policy makers to argue that this demonstrates the democratic progress Morocco and the King are making. At the same time, the role of the women's movement in getting the reform approved has seemingly confirmed that associational life is crucial in promoting democratisation. This paper, building on theoretical work questioning the linkage between a strong civil society and democratic outcomes, argues that civil society activism does not necessarily lead to democratisation, and may reinforce authoritarian practices. Far from demonstrating the centrality of civil society, the process through which the new family code was passed highlights the crucial institutional role of the monarch, whose individual decision-making power has driven the whole process. Authoritarianism finds itself strengthened in Morocco despite the liberal nature and outcome of the reform.