Jordan’s Political Reform & Changing The Way We Vote

I’m going to start a political party, anyone care to join me? I need 249 volunteers…

Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit outlined some of the aspects of the “political parties law” that he hopes will change the way we vote in this country. It remains, as the PM said in the Jordan Times article, “the most essential piece of legislation in the countryâ??s reform process.”

Some fairly interesting elements in the draft…

– Political parties would enjoy the right to establish their own media outlets without prior permission from the authorities.

– The number of founders of a political party should not be less than 250; up from 50 people.

– The found member’s age is reduced from 25 to 21 and membership age will remain at 18.

– To ensure a more accurate social representation, parties must include members from at least 5 different governorates.

The draft election law remains uncertain as a the PM referred to a recent poll that showed Jordanians preferred the current one-man, one-vote system by 59 per cent and 61 per cent, respectively. Some are asking for a mixed-system or proportional representation, but the voting formula is still being debated.

I do see the logic behind the increase to 250; behind all the politicking going on the fundamental objective has consistently been for the past few years to decrease the number of political parties in Jordan to a more reasonable, or rather functional, number. This objective has been officially stated several times by King Abdullah.

As I’ve said before, I am in favour of this approach and personally, in light of recent events in the region and at home, there is a definite need for this to happen now more than ever. I don’t like the concept of having the IAF (Islamic Action Front) run-the-tables with no strong opposition to match it. That being said, the process of parties merging has been met with some relative success in recent months.

What I found most interesting about the proposal was the “establish their own media outlets without prior permission from the authorities” part. I don’t know how this will shape out, whether it’ll be a case of “no prior permission” but a lot of monitoring and restrictions. If that’s the case then this will be more like eye candy than an actual working aspect of the system. The optimist in me says this will be met proportionally with greater media and press freedoms.

As for a new voting system, I think there is significant opposition to the current system regardless of what this poll might suggest. I discussed the proportional representation system a few months ago when this was all still in the “recommendation” phase under the banner of the National Agenda.

Back then Muasher said the committee was in total agreement on the end-goal of the Elections Law, which is to have a Lower House entirely elected on the basis of proportional lists. So I don’t know if the lower house will actually accept it considering it’s going to change the way they (or specifically their parties) remain in power.

Taking the recommendations of the National Agenda and turning them into projects or proposals takes a long time to do, but in a country where such commissioned and researched “agendas” tend to find their way to dusty rooms to live out their shelf life, I suppose it’s good to know that the National Agenda is still alive and kicking while its recommendations are now taking some serious practical shape. Patience, hope and a healthy dose of optimism is what is required now.


  • I’m in 🙂 now we need 248 people!

    I want to be in charge of the party’s publication and other media outlets and media strategy :p

  • I call president, if taken then vice president!

    Yes we need some change, the reason why I don’t vote is because for some reason all those who I can vote for are members of the Islamic brotherhood! Lol don’t ask me why or where, actually I’m not sure if I can vote at all! My ID says I’m residence of some country, miles and miles away from Jordan!

    Oh well, we need a moderate party, that is not Pro-government and not religious (well claiming to be religious) a party that will have all Jordanians regardless of any consideration!

    Yes, the way it is now , it’s you are either Pro-government aka. mukhbarat, or Ikhwanji! I think we have first to work on the deeply rooted fear among the Jordanian youths. I mean if I’ll go around a university campus in Jordan asking people to join this party, I’ll have some 5 guys writing reports on what I’m doing and I’ll have people scared to talk to me the next day!

    Actually Al-Ghad newspaper has some interesting article about establishing a new liberal party in Jordan after the IAF stunt.

    Well, as the old saying goes : Ù?Ù?ا Ù?ا تحÙ?Ù? باÙ?سÙ?اسة Ù? Ù?ا Ø¥Ù?Ù? دخÙ? فÙ? حدا
    Ø®Ù?Ù?Ù? بعÙ?د Ù? Ø¥Ù?Ø´Ù? اÙ?Ø­Ù?Ø· Ù?Ù?Ø­Ù?Ø· Ø? Ù? دÙ?ر باÙ?Ù? Ù?Ù? Ø¥Ù?Ù? بحÙ?Ù? اÙ?تÙ?ر Ù? عاÙ?Ù?Ù?Ù? حاÙ?Ù?Ù? Ù?ا بخافÙ?

  • Firas, I disagree man. Saying the lower house is either “mukhabarat” or ikhwanji is a bit simplistic and a little absurd; especially translating “pro-government” to mean mukhabarat. It is an insult to the security forces of this country that keep your butt alive half the time from the terrorists you so often despise 😉

    You can disagree with all their moves (lower house) but don’t label them unfairly, lets be real here. The lower house is quite independent in nature, sometimes they support the government initiatives sometimes they come out railing against them. If you had said the senate is pro-government then yeah I’d agree for the obvious reasons. But parliament consists of many players. There are many moderate parties, in fact they almost out number the IAF. But that’s the problem…there are many…not one major political player acting as major opposition…….many. Look at all the centrists parties, the very parties the PM was talking to in the Jordan Times article.

    I think the purpose of all this is an attempt to change the political nature of the country and the way we elect people. One of the reasons you see the lower house as being either pro or anti is because of the disproportionate representation. Too many tribes and too many brotherhood members get too many votes in their areas where their respective populations are not proportionate to the actual representation.

    I’m hoping this all changes.

    The problem is not with establishing new parties…its with bringing together and strengthening the ones we already have.

  • Well I was talking about how most people view things. The general perception is:THOSE who talk politics or get involved are either pro government or Ikhwanjeyeh. Okay, I may have given the impression that itâ??s my opinion, but I was actually talking about the general image. Itâ??s you are either with us or with them! I was referring to studentâ??s council when Iâ??ve said you are either mukhbarat or ikhwanjeh, again this is how most students view it. I donâ??t see why you had to mention the security forces? Well of course these guys are working for the country not the government, not the true case most of the times. And we all know that what keep my butt alive is the Simpsons and the endless supplies of Dentyne Ice gum.

    I mean the Jordanian parliament is somehow divided in two sides. IAF and anti-IAF who are automatically labeled as pro-government for various reasons, but the mukhbarat thing does not apply to the PMs. I mean the only two active groups, are those pro government, and the IAF. So since Iâ??m not a big fan of the IAF Iâ??ll have to join the pro-government lobby since they are the only side that is active, meanwhile Iâ??m not a real big fan of the government but Iâ??ll support them, I mean it is somehow the lesser of two evils 😀 (okay please donâ??t close my blog).

    I am not sure the current alternative parties are qualified to rise as this long awaited party we are demanding. Most of the times they are in the also-ran crowd. Well, and others got creepy connections with foreign governments who have (had) their own agendas. Do I need to mention the rich and university professors 3amus who established a party just to spend the nights away from their wives and play bridge and gossip in their party head quarters?

    We need a party that will bond people from all backgrounds. To tell people that we share the same land and future, regardless of how you got here.
    Now can I ask you Tarawneh how long you have been out of Jordan? You are aware how things go around here, right? I am sure you are well aware that itâ??s not about being qualified or being the right person for the job. What matters is, your family name, finical status, and how many people your tribe counts.

    I think we have first to establish a series of serious national dialogues to talk about the true meaning of citizenship and to talk about our differences and duties towards this country. We have to gather and bond people to break all the walls first.

  • Firas, this maybe the perception to the lesser observers but let us talk about reality. it does not come down to pro and anti-government. if we look at the legislative process you can see a lot of government proposals are accepted by the IAF and rejected by the non-IAF, and at times both rally against it…honor crimes is one of many examples. Granted that the tribes show support for the king, but they’re never on great terms with the government…we can also look at the vote of confidence record of the last few governments (this post 11/9 govt aside). Badran barely got out of it alive. Their main grievence is there’s not enough of their family members in the appointed ministers, so they end up shooting them down just for spite.

    so in reality theres really no pro or anti…there’s just what is.

    to tell you the truth, if i had to choose between the government and the lower house right now the government actually comes out on top. there’s plenty we can criticise them on, but there’s more in parliament. they seem to want to get something done and then get stuck with the lower house. if you’ve noticed, most of the work seems to get done when the lower house is not in session 😀

    and yeah i know how things go in Jordan, but nevertheless, it is easier to work with current parties and attempt to reform them than to establish new ones. unless new parties have massive financial support and a large membership, establishing themselves as major competitors takes years to formulate.

    im all for dialogue, but what i would prefer is a change in the system first. we wont get anywhere without that happening first.

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