Reading this article today I couldn’t help but crack a smile at the staggering contradiction. Apparently, according to a poll by the CSS, an overwhelming 72% of Jordanians believe that the November 9th parliamentary elections will be conducted fairly, even though 66% of respondents didn’t even know there was a new Elections Law to begin with. According to the survey, only 52% of respondents who actually did know of the law’s existence had some understanding of it, with less than 17% claiming to have “wide knowledge” of the law’s details – whatever that means.
And here’s the best statistic; according to the survey, 23% of respondents who had heard about the law said it contained details they couldn’t understand (an incomprehension they share with the media), while 62% accept or agree with the new law, despite the fact that 66% didn’t even know it existed in the first place. Moreover, 72% were convinced that punishments for vote-buying would deter people from engaging in it – despite the fact that the elections are about four months away and allegations of vote-buying have already been seen as early as a few weeks ago.
With 1,182 respondents, the survey sample seems a bit to small to use this is an accurate barometer for mass public opinion in Jordan, but its one forgone conclusion was one everyone already knows: “Jordaniansâ€™ experiences in earlier elections adversely affected public confidence in the governmentâ€™s ability to conduct free and fair elections.”
While the mainstream papers seem to be fairly selective with regards to what numbers they publish from this poll, Ammon seems to have highlighted pretty much the whole report, which contained a few important statistics.
One of the bigger ones?
According to the poll, 25% of Jordanians will boycott the elections. That, by far and large, is an extraordinary figure with 20 weeks left till the November elections. Especially when the survey also revealed that 57% of respondents actually even voted last time around, with 31% of those having voted for someone based on them being a relative or for tribal affiliations, compared to 16% who voted because of the candidate’s “platform”.
However, the numbers that should concern the government the most are those related to communications. With only 33% claiming to have read, seen or heard about the new elections law, there is, without a doubt, yet another massive government failure to communicate with the people, especially over complex legislation that desperately needs to be understood by an electorate if the goal is to actually get them to vote.
I wonder how many people absolutely know when they have to register by, or that the deadline is fast approaching? I wonder how many people know where to go? I wonder how many people know what they need to bring with them in order to register?
And as for the government, while communicating with the people will continue to be its biggest political misstep, none of this may seem to matter four months from now when those elections are held. For at that time, their biggest political misstep will be to host a corrupted election process like those before, and in doing so, simply destroy what little credibility that state has when it comes to offering the people a free and fair election.
As someone suggested to me recently, it might not be a terrible idea to call in international monitors to observe the elections in an official capacity. It would probably be the boldest move the state has made in the past decade, and would lend a significant dose of credibility and legitimacy to the electoral process.
Someone call Jimmy Carter.