With house parties all over Jordan busy disturbing the peace, plus the latest female party animal and a group that’s keen on banning alcohol and running around telling people to put their clothes back on, the country this year is kind of like Mardi Gras, without the nudity and, you know, joy.
But let me backtrack a bit…
Raising the minimum number of required members to form a political party up to 500 (from 50) has been a last minute effort by the government to push/force parties to merge and thus establish parties with stronger political bases. One could argue that with so many members needed to form a party, many of the current ones are going to have to start focusing, if not determining, what their political platform is in the first place, simply as a form of common ground. One could also argue that this is last minute attempt to curb the power of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), aka the Islamist Party and/or the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, in the Lower House of Parliament. As has been said over and over again by analysts from all over, the IAF is most likely to gain a major foothold in the next parliamentary elections scheduled later this year due to the rising Islamic powers in the region (Hizaballah, Hamas, Egypt’s MB, etc). This is an argument best depicted by Jordanian cartoonist Emad Hajjaj lately:
In my opinion it’s killing two birds with one stone. Moreover, a lot of people have been looking at this with such political theory that I can’t help but wonder if they’ve completely forgotten the Jordanian mindset and that you can’t really say “please” in this country and get a positive response. So I’m all for forcing them to merge, at least as a solution for the short run. (To be fair however, since the merging policy has come about in the past 4 years or so, the number of parties in the country have been cut down to almost half. The number now stands (roughly) at 35).
Also, as a Muslim I’m all for curbing the political power of the IAF or any organization that seeks to dictate morality (and foreign diplomacy) to a people. Especially if that party is more concerned with the ongoings of other countries than its own.
The minimum membership requirement is still new but the election clock is ticking so it was no surprise to see 6 centrist parties in the last two days decide to merge already.
Merging or uniting political parties can be argued from varying viewpoints and even most forward thinkers will look towards future implications. Will fewer political parties make a significant impact on the political arena in Jordan? Will this shift the state of mind towards political platforms and agendas rather than tribalism? Will it create competitive forces and the friction between the various parties usually required for parties to actually advance and grow? Will it curb the power of the Islamists?
Again, many of these questions depend on those varying viewpoints but the future remains unpredictable. In the short run I see it as a solid first step, one that should have been introduced awhile ago.
Also when I said earlier that the current number of parties is 35, it should be noted that as of last week the official number was 34. But yet another “Jordanian Nationalist” centrist party has become the latest political party to be given a license only a few days ago before the minimum requirement came out, thus taking the 35th spot. They have 120 members but what’s significant about this particular party is that it’s the first in Jordan’s history to be headed by a woman: Dr. Muna Hussein, who has a Phd in Chemistry. Dr. Muna has said her party will not be participating in this year’s election but that she would have no problem raising the membership to even 1,000 if she wanted.
Which makes me wonder if parties will just start getting their friends and relatives to register for the sake of requirements!