Jordan: Trust Your Government!

The kind of slogan one might here in “V For Vendetta” or perhaps Orwell’s “1984”. But what is likely to be the most amazing part about the Rifai government’s recent win of a confidence vote in Parliament – a vote that has apparently set some sort of record (which is akin to a high score in a game of pacman when it comes to Jordanian politics – is that it has taken less than 8 weeks to co-opt the lower house, publicly that is. Out of a 120 deputies, only eight voted “nay” and one guy died, leaving 111 to vote for confidence – about 93.2%. If you’re thinking that’s the kind of number that would only show up when Mubarak runs for re-re-re-election, you would be right. When you have no opposition groups in the parliament, a complete absence of cohesive party politics, and an appointed government – the latter will not likely gain a confidence vote that is less than 80%. And with this parliament, the voices of dissent have disappeared only a few weeks after they were supposedly ushered in, and any “critical” stances some of them took in the past few weeks have been officially eroded. As Yasser Abu Hilala put it, Jordan has set a world precedent by producing a one-party parliament.

I could best sum up the entire process of the confidence vote in one word: theater. It’s like going to a Harlem Globetrotters game and expecting them to lose to the Washington Generals – it’s just not happening.

But I think this time around, local creative productions seem to have offered the best political commentary on the vote’s outcome. So sit back and watch the show.


  • It is almost a one-party parliament, I agree, and thats a shame. But equating a massive vote of confidence to a weak, uncritical parliament is also inaccurate. The biggest shock people seem to have is that the MPs had harsh criticisms of some aspects of the Rifai government, or some strong demands for the government, and yet gave a confidence vote. This, in itself, is not really a sign of self-contradiction or hypocrisy. I find it both mature and effective to voice strong criticisms and demands to the government, yet –viewing that the government isn’t rotten in its core– decide to allow the government to continue existence with such criticisms and demands in mind. Perhaps, (and, if one reads the Rifai Government Plan, you’d see he is emphasizing “government accountability”) the parliament views that the Rifai government is their best shot at having some of their demands met. Indeed, some MPs attribute the failures of the parliament not to their weakness (though I’d say they’re weak as well), but to the uncooperative nature of the previous governments. If that is true (and I do believe previous governments were uncooperative with the parliament and the people as a whole), then wanting a cooperative Rifai government would be a wise choice, even if he had differing views; this way they have more of a chance in implementing some of their demands, they might think.

    And while I do agree that we have a rather monolithic parliament, I also feel that the confidence vote is not a sign of this.

    On a slightly unrelated note, while I do think we still have a loyalist parliament, that is politically and ethnically super-representative of only one part of our society, it is my personal observation that this parliament is nevertheless stronger and more intellectual than previous ones. I won’t put my money of this, but I do hope — and it is possible — that such parliament is one of many intermediate parliaments on the way to a more ideal one.

    In any case, I don’t think the recent vote says much on hypocrisy or weakness of the parliament. It does say that we have a loyalist parliament, in the sense that its a non-revolutionary parliament that supports the existence of the establishment, but I don’t feel like the vote is any evidence that we’ll see the Representatives follow Rifai blindly. And the election law still sucks. But whatever, the parliament still shows more promise than previous ones (whether its the people or the attitude of the government).

    The people are getting more and more fed up, and the establishment realizes this. Increasingly in the coming years, it will be in the very interest of the establishment to evolve into something democratic and representative.. I think.

  • The keyword in all this is in your title: Trust “Your” Government, and until it’s truly “yours” by direct vote, Don’t get depressed if your “vote; aka trust” doesn’t make a difference, and if you’re courted by both the government and candidates through the proverbial roses and love letters, for however long the electoral campaign is, until the end of the election day, when your cameo appearence is not needed anymore, until the next election day, whever that’s decided to be, every 1, 2, 4, or 20 years.

  • نعم الثقة هي بيت القصيد ØŒ كيف يمكن أن نحقق الثقة بين الشعب المغلوب على أمره وبين الحيتان والمرتزقة الذين عاثوا في الأرض فساداَ وخراباَ ØŒ هل من منكم يستطيع أن يوعض علينا كيف يمكن أن نبحر الى شاطئ الأمان في سفينة أكلها الصدا والتلف في بحراَ هائج ØŸ هل منكم يستطيع أن يبحر الى شاطئ الأمان دون وجود بوصلة تقودنا الى أرض الميعاد والاخلاص ØŸØŒ أسئله أطرحه عليكم يا شباب وشبات المستقبل

  • To put things into perspective, if Rifai was a tawjihi student, this score could get him into the Engineering Faculty in J.U.S.T!

    This is the only context in which this score can possibly make sense. Now, if I want to go back to humor and discuss the Jordanian Parliment, I would ask, does this mean that this cabinet will last more that the lifespan of a butterfly!? Because if 93.2% doesn’t, then I don’t what will!

  • Remind me, did we only abolish retirement payments to parliament members, or did we do the same to cabinet members? (Or have I mixed them up)

  • Natural confidence point of a constitutional … but the percentage of confidence is high .. show that the deputies did not study or see the products of the previous government current Yes, there are ministers deserved to survive, but many did not deserve ..
    I have suggested that the vote on the minister and minister of justice ..

  • I remember Mudar Badran’s government getting the majority of votes during the first Parliament in 1989 , I believe only 6 members voted against it then even though the Parliament then had many influential Islamists and a few communists.

    What puzzles me if how the Parliament has to vote for a government before it can judge its performance, and doesn’t have a second chance to re-vote for the same government later on. The norm should be that the government cannot take trust for granted and has to earn that trust. Since Jordanians do not vote for their government I think the Parliament needs to vote up or down the government more than once.

Your Two Piasters: