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.
Now, the Lower House dismissal and the governmental formed committee to amend the Election Law has failed to bring something new to the table which has been showed clearly by the Minister of Political Development who chose to highlight an outdated statistic that reveals 60% to be in favor of one-person one-vote system (as the committee was still studying amendments to be made).
Apparently, the mainstream media’s shock of an unchanged law -except in few areas-have left people especially the young uninterested in the detailsâ€¦
Minister of Political Development recently said that boycotting the elections is a “negative approach”, while many will argue that candidates similar to those who formed the previous Lower House are not needed anyway.
Well then, election time provides free of charge entertainment as candidates come out with funny slogans or unexceptional means to promote their “righteous” image, or the post election scenario; as parties claim elections were a fraud and the government â€“as always-insures 100% legitimacy and transparency.
I petty any outside party which may observe Jordan’s elections!
I neither believe in these elections nor in a government which drains every piaster they could out of our pockets while leaving people high up spending millions with no one even reminding them that we are a poor country.
And elections? Who will I vote for if I register? None of the people running has a website or even any channel that I could look at or get information from, even god forbid communicate with them. I am curious are you voting for someone Nas ? How did you make your up decision? I seriously need help on these grounds. Do we base our voting on the photo? Or perhaps on his/her family roots? Might as well check which newspaper the candidate posts ads on? I mean it’s absurd that I vote/register in these elections while none of the candidates even uses social media. I am sorry I can’t base my vote on a stupid quote that is copied and pasted onto an ad! If anyone has any other view, please correct me or prove me wrong.
@Yanal: i don’t think you’re wrong, and with regards to the question you posed to me i’ll say this…
i have a conflicted answer as i have remained conflicted for the past several years. i think it comes as no shock to anyone that the track record of legitimate elections in this country lies on a short rope. so i cannot argue that past elections have not been fraudulent elections, as has been publicly proven, nor can i, as an ordinary citizen, make assumptions or guarantees that the next elections will be fair.
however, that said, for me personally, im less concerned with the outcome of elections – which is the ball that everyone tends to keep their eye on – and more concerned with process. the process story is important from my point of view. the manner in which a society casts a vote is important. putting aside who they vote for and what that person will do in that given seat – the electoral process is an act that becomes engrained at the grassroots. and i really believe that a democratic society can never evolve without the electorate having practiced, shared and embraced democratic values at their very core.
yes, i know somewhere someone is saying “let them vote so we can dangle “democracy” in front of them like a carrot”…and for a security minded regime, that is a great way to control and appease the masses in the short run. but emphasis has to be placed on “the short run”. simple because in the long run, it won’t work. once those values begin to emerge at the citizenry level, and once this generation and the next generation have gone through the process enough times, there will inevitably come a time when the citizenry will demand democracy – and at that point, any security-minded regime will be unable to maintain its status quo; it’s operation within the gray-areas. it will be forced to either clamp down completely or open up completely, and bare the radical consequence of either choice.
so again, process to me, matters. and i think it should to everyone.
hopefully i’ll re-articulate this in a post someday soon.