Thanks to @Bambam for pointing my attention to this contest by Zain that I’ve seen on a few billboards recently but never really paid attention to what it really was – until I was compelled to read it. I suppose it speaks for itself, but from what one can gather is, you vote in the Jordanian elections and then send your national number to the Zain code to be entered in a draw for a car and various other prizes. Loosely translated: “Those that lend their voice to the nation…win”.
While the state is politicizing a national tragedy for political gains, one of the largest private sector players in the country is commercializing a political event for commercial gains. The lines are incredibly blurry but in this case the results are just disastrous. One might even think that Zain is working on behalf of the government to encourage people to vote, which is not out of the realm of possibility considering the thin line between the public sector and private sector on an upper echelon level.
This is just another example of how the Jordanian elections are becoming more of a show than anything else.
It’s like the commercialization of Christmas.
But the commercialization doesn’t leave a bitter taste in your mouth..
* of Christmas
Least the commercialization of Christmas and Ramadan allow the nonreligious to celebrate and enjoy them as well so there is at least a positive aspect to it…
This on the other hand…
Okay, call me a voice of dissent here, but I missed the argument where this was such a horrible thing. A local company is trying to incent people to get out and vote. They’ve offered a contest as a way to drive people to the polls. How is that awful? Maybe I’m just too comfortable with the commercialization of Christmas (tongue in cheek)…
The bottom line is that voting is important. Whether you like the process or the candidates, voting is important. I can assure you in many US elections I haven’t liked any of the candidates, but I got out and voted. Even this year, in a mid-term election, from thousands of miles away, I voted. And tomorrow, I’ll be out voting. So, I’m confused about how this is terrible. I would have preferred a public service announcement or a note that the text is free, but…
Oh, and I’m really confused about the politicizing of a national tragedy. Nas, can you clarify as it’s likely I’ve missed something here. Thanks.
I saw an election poster next to an Eid poster, which further complicates by adding a religious element to the blurry mix of tragedy, big business and nationalism.
I totally agree with you that the Zain campaign is a bad move and does reflect negatively on a very important national event. But I totally diagree with you on what you call the politicizing of a national tragedy. The elections is not a government product or commodity that it is trying to sell off! It is a constitutional right and the government’s job and duty is to ensure a clean, fair process and to implement the law and provide a safe environment for every citizen to practice their constitutional right. And they have done that. The date is not being used or abused by anyone to market anything! The vast majority of jordanians disagree with you – even the survivors of the bombings themselves!
“The vast majority of jordanians disagree with you ”
do you have polling data on that…?
Even if it is the case, they also disagree with me and you and naseem on the issue of honor crimes and many other issues that are morally unjustifiable.
Voting is important, but in this case, a vote in these elections is an endorsement of the flawed electoral process currently in place. A vote in some rural areas in the south is 4 times more powerful than a vote in Amman. I live in Amman, why should I accept this unfairness? When you look at the number of people qualified to vote in each district and compare it to the number of seats in those districts, you’ll realize that the over-represented districts have more than 50% seats in parliament (61 out of 120). You can’t reasonably expect that MP’s from these districts (more than half the parliament) would vote for a new law (once they’re elected under the current one) that would change the status quo which is hugely tipped in their favor. So I can’t reasonably expect that by participating in these elections, I can hope to see any positive change coming out of the resulting parliament. The process is broken from the roots (the rules), and you can’t expect the product of this flawed process to create the change!
The only way I can reasonably expect a fair law to emerge is when parliament is not in session and when it is done as a temporary law. This is exactly what happened in 2010, but the government blew it, clearly sending a signal to people, including the incoming MP’s, that the higher powers in the country (the ones that set policies) wish for the status quo to remain the same. Add that to the list of reasons why you can’t expect the incoming parliament to produce a difference!
“The elections is not a government product or commodity that it is trying to sell off!”
Actually it is, the government went to unthinkable distances. Meeting with the unions, the endless commentary on IAF’s boycott, the incident in Madaba, and the minister of interior’s statement: instigating boycott is unconstitutional. Funny, especially coming from the ministry with the most constitutional infringements, namely, the beholder of public meeting law. These activities are selling off the product.
“It is a constitutional right and the governmentâ€™s job and duty is to ensure a clean, fair process and to implement the law and provide a safe environment for every citizen to practice their constitutional right”.
While no one is disputing or arguing this, it becomes a Boston Legal script.
“And they have done that”
As long as the process is on, they still have that duty to do, which makes such a statement propagandist. As for the part that had passed already of the process, they didn’t, and thats in the way the law was passed to produce these elections in the shape we are criticizing here.
I have to agree with Nas on this one and I might add, it is not only tragedy but travesty, All the government’s candidate will be basically be appointed and hand picked by the king and the royal court, The Economist published an interesting artical ,“n any case, Jordanâ€™s legislature does not have much influence. The king appoints the upper house, chooses the prime minister and cabinet, and can dissolve parliaments he dislikes. He has done this twice since ascending the throne in 1999, and during those legislative hiatuses ruled by decree. Loopholes and fuzzy laws let him muzzle the press and stifle dissent, much as happens in the meaner-looking countries next door.”
I have a question – putting aside whether what Zain is doing is right or wrong – every one I know and every article I read says the parliament is a toothless sham and the public don’t particularly care.
Now since that seems to be the concensus across the entire spectrum of society, why have elections and why have a parliament in the first place? I’m no fiscal expert, but surely scraping parliament would save the state a few dinars wouldn’t it? Jordan is not exactly rolling in money, so wouldn’t it make economic sense to stop wasting money on a sham that everyone knows is a sham? This parliament will be dissolved within 18 months anyway!
Back to the Zain issue – it does leave a bad taste. And why on earth would anyone want to give away their national number? I shudder to think what mischief a commercial company would get up to by having a database of people’s ID numbers.
Hamzeh, you are likely right. However, as one who grew up with democracy, we learn that you can’t change from outside the system. If all we do is stand on the sidelines (or worse take our toys and go home), then we have done nothing to make the situation better. I may not love the candidates or the system, but I go out to vote. This is as true in the US as in Jordan. For me, voting in the US was quite a hassle. I vote when I know the guy I vote for will lose. I vote when I know that the policies I want won’t be voted in. Because, quite frankly, I believe that trying to make a change gives me a voice. If I don’t even vote, then I should accept what I get and hush up about it. In my house, only those who vote get to have an opinion ;). If I care, then I need to try and find a way within the system to fix it. Fixing from outside fails, as we see time and again by democracy initiatives that come out of the West. Jordan is not ready for a Western-style democracy, it’s ready to find its own type of democracy. That kind of approach requires that those of you who care (especially the younger folks) find ways to make a difference. And it takes a long time. Quick fixes work as poorly as those imposed by outsiders. Just my 2 cents for whatever they are worth… Thanks for the dialog.