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    11-Oct-2018

How difficult is it to achieve endgame goals of political reform? - By Mahmoud Al Abed, The Jordan Times

 

 

Just 10 days ago, His Majesty King Abdullah said Jordan needs to have three to four political parties with clear platforms, representing all political leanings, and capable of representing the people and reaching the House of Representatives. And during a recent meeting with the Jordan Press Association, he called for updating both the elections and political parties laws to achieve the endgame in the reform process: a parliamentary government. In other words, people will indirectly elect their prime minister on the basis of solutions put forward by parties to address the challenges facing the nation. 
 
The plan has been on the drawing board since 2012, well articulated in the King's Discussion Papers and statements. In His Majesty's words: "…The reform roadmap is dominated by three clear endgame goals: holding free and fair parliamentary elections under a law allowing for the highest degree of representation, so that the outcome would be a new Lower House with partisan orientations, leading to representative parliamentary governments.” 
 
After six years, one step was taken towards that goal and was not repeated. It was when the Palace went into talks with parliamentary blocs that led to the selection of former prime minister Abdullah Ensour to lead the new government in 2013. 
 
Following that, the economic concerns dominated the public opinion and interest groups and reactionary powers have worked relentlessly to undermine the process, which has come to a halt. 
 
Now, with a war of statements and social media bla bla waged by the so-called opposition or self-proclaimed hirak, demanding drastic changes to the political structure in Jordan, the best answer to that is to get back to the serious talk about political reform. Let the people pick their governments and take responsibility for their choice. 
 
How difficult can that be? What we need is an elections law based on partisan tickets, regardless of how many political parties are out there. The fittest will survive.
 
Some would say that this is risky because the Islamists would prevail and jump behind the steering wheel if fair elections are held, and that would irritate regional and world powers, especially with a 600-km line separating Jordan from Israel and the Palestinian lands. The Islamists' unstoppable domination is a myth, in fact. If we do the math, their representation in the House currently is about 10 per cent and the latest polls of 2016, as international observers testify, were free and fair. 
 
It is said, and widely believed, that opposition figures, mostly among retired officials and ex-servicemen, raise their tone from time to time just to say: "We are here." A party-based elections law would be the right step in the right direction to invite these people to jump into the spot light of power if they can convince the masses that they have the solutions to their woes, make it to Parliament and then lead the executive branch and exercise the "general mandate".
 
How difficult can that be?
 
The writer is the deputy chief editor of The Jordan Times 
 

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