If the title of this piece sounds eerily familiar to the frequent reader, that’s because it is. Last June, a poll conducted by the Center for Strategic Studies revealed that: “while 72% of Jordanians believe that the November 9th parliamentary elections will be conducted fairly, even though 66% of respondents didnâ€™t even know there was a new Elections Law to begin with”
Here we are, months later with the elections over and yet another revealing poll. This time, around 63% of Jordanians believe the November 9 parliamentary elections were fair and transparent, yet, 54% had still not heard about the Election law that made the very election possible to begin with. According to the study, among the remaining 46% who said they had heard about the law or read about it somewhere (most likely via what was transmitted by local media) – 45% said they could not grasp the idea of virtual districts – or in other words, one of the most controversial thing about the law that spawned a boycott and calls for the law to be revised. It should also be pointed out that before the elections only 33% claimed to have heard anything about the law, and that number is now 46% after the elections have happened (still a minority).
So, the majority believe the elections went ok but still don’t know anything about the very law the empowered them; the crux of the whole situation. This law is supposed to be currently reviewed by the parliament, and I would bet good money that the majority of lawmakers do not understand the very law that allowed them to be elected. A law that was created behind closed doors with no public debate or intervention of any kind; a law that was not widely revealed to the public (the poll numbers speak for themselves here); and a law that played an immense role in determining who got a seat in parliament, and who did not. The same law that garnered so much criticism that the government promised even before the elections were over, to put it up for review as soon as the new parliament was sworn in.
Moreover, while 55% polled believe that the legal punishments imposed by the government sufficed in quelling any attempts of vote buying, 64% believe there was widespread vote buying, with 23% personally knowing individuals who bought or sold votes. In other words the majority of those polled believe the punishment was effective in subduing vote buying, but a greater majority also believes the elections were “marred” with vote buying.
Ammon has a more interesting breakdown of the poll. One finding showed that 67% of those polled believe the dissolution of the last parliament by HM King Abdullah made absolutely no impact on their lives (whether positive or negative), which I guess essentially says a lot about the overall impact of the Jordanian parliament.
Also, of the 46% that heard about the election law in some shape or form – 63% actually attempted to look at the details of the law (with 23% having done so to a great extent). However, of that 63%, a staggering majority of 83% couldn’t understand a thing about the law.
All that said, none of this really matters at this point. Polls for some reason are just a reminder of how something are wrong and how some things just don’t make sense. They some times offer us an interesting before and after picture of a moment in time. In this case, one of the most significant numbers in this jumble of numbers is probably the fact that the majority didn’t know a thing about the very piece of legislation propping up the entire electoral process. But more importantly, the fact that the numbers indicated as such in the summer, and the government had over 4-5 months to change the tide and managed only to increase awareness by 16% (if this before and after is any measure of accuracy).