Saturday, September 29, 2007

Leftists and the upcoming elections

Parliamentary elections are scheduled for next November. So, to get people into the spirit, I hope to outline some of the important things to look for as the picture evolves. I will outline the major trends and choose a few races that I think are interesting.

Needless to say, most people don’t expect these elections to change anything. However, it is important to point out that people, not elections, are responsible for change. Therefore, it is easier to complain than to actually do something.

One of the most poorly explored aspects of Jordanian politics is the best mechanism to break the duopoly between the conservative tribal network and the conservative religious movement as expressed by the Muslim Brotherhood and their IAF. The seeming rivalry between these two poles leaves little room for the development of more progressive political expressions in the country.

This has not been helped by the leaders of Leftist and pan-Arabist parties, who for too long have had little to do with local political problems in Jordan, resulting in a bizarre fetishization of all things dark and dictatorial in our Arab surroundings.

Nahid Hattar discusses the place of Islamists in relation to the other opposition forces in his article today, with sharp criticism of the rise of economic liberalism as the dominant economic paradigm that has gone unchallenged by the Islamists. He sees this as being mostly due to Islamists’ belief in this paradigm and because they benefit greatly from it. He screws up in the end where he practically begs the Islamists to change their beliefs and team up with leftist movements for the upcoming parliamentary elections. It seems that there is a push towards announcing a joint slate of candidates between the IAF and the leftists. So, while social consciousness and political inclusion need to find credible voices in the country’s political mix, would be leftists are more interested in creating alliances that would bring them short term benefits than actually making a noticeable change in the political discourse here. Despite this, his call for the return of effectively right wing socialist policies of the 1970’s and 1980’s is both unique and thought provoking.

Two years ago, the National Agenda Committee was supposed to outline the best course for political, social and economic reform in the country. At the time, I was skeptical about how reform can be imposed outside the parameters of the agreed upon constitutional system. Sure enough, attempts to do this failed, and we are where we are. The “reformers” have been sidelined, and we are now dealing with politicians with vested interest in keeping the status quo. This is perpetuated by using the politics of fear and exclusion. Leftists are the obvious escape from this situation, if they can live up to their role.

So, is there a possibility that this can change? I believe that progressive politicians need to find a coherent and unified voice. They need to discuss people’s problems, explore realistic solutions and generally embrace a tough confrontation with both branches of the political right. If they look for a few crumbs from the Islamists’ table, as Hattar wants, then they will continue their marginalization for another four years. The leftists and pan-Arabists did reasonably well in the municipal elections. It is their opportunity and duty to build on that.

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7 Comments:

At 8:00 PM, Anonymous Pheras Hilal said...

What really is a shame, is that most liberal parties/groups/entities, eventually play along the "free market economy" lines, and that is exactly where they start losing audience and credibility. The fact that these liberals are somewhat off-key when it comes to local problems and staying in touch with those who would actually vote(ie. people outside Amman's 5th and 6th districts), makes it harder for these liberals to step up to the scene. So even if they have the right tools and background to bring about change; they lack this street-wise political background that could bring them to the forefront.

As for pan-Arab candidates...I don't know, we've been playing those tunes for ages, and I still feel that any pan-Arab party or candidate is really just whistling in the wind. I find it very quaint news.

 
At 10:46 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Pheras: I agree. I would also point out the real audience for leftists should be far from the affluence of Amman. However, they are more appealing to a dying breed of intellectuals who came to political maturity three or four decades ago.

 
At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Far3i said...

what is really more depressing is that leftists have become another disposable weapon in the arsenal of the US ans arab despots now that USSR has collapsed and the US no longer needs the Green Belt but instead needs to undermine the Islamists after 911, and the rise of Hizbouallah, Hamas, and Iran all staunchly anti-colonialists and anti-globalization.

so I am not sure I want to see a strong leftist Jordanian party. they will not form any real opposition, instead their virulent hate for the islamists will compel them to align themselves with the regime, and with those who support the regime. just look at scums like Ayman Safadi, Jameel Nimri, Salah Qallab, and a long line of x-leftists who are today linked to the left by a name only but who are the intellectual backbone of the much detested neo-liberal movement.

 
At 11:38 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Far3i: They seem more likely to align themselves with the Islamists, if you have been following them at all. The journalists you mention are, as you say, ex-leftists. Hard core "dead enders" still carry the banner.

Aside from that, if the leftists don't change, they will not become a force to be reckoned with. So, you needn't worry.

 
At 12:48 PM, Anonymous batir said...

From the amusing ads I read in newspapers and some street talk I see that the election have no relation to "leftists" and all political jargon. It is all about money and tribal power. I reckon no true leftist can invest in election as 10% as any contractor who would like to be a parliamentarian. We have the one man vote system to thank for that.

 
At 3:56 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Come on Batir. This is a cop out and you know it. The only way most current leftists would win would be one man one vote one candidate. I have said it before and I will repeat it: relevance can not be legislated. Current leftist discourse is highly dogmatized and irrelevant. Unless leftists face up to this, they will never have a chance. Blaming the voting system may be comforting, but not satisfying.

 
At 8:45 PM, Anonymous ali said...

did anyone pay attention to the Failed State Index for 2007?

I can proudly announce that the Jordanian regime ranked 82 from 177 with 1 being the worst. our government came between Madagascar and Cameron.

http://www.fundforpeace.org/web/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=229&Itemid=366

there are 4 ranks only. our regime is one above the lowest rank.

for those who keep defending the regime, I hope you stop doing so and start defending jordan from disaster.

DEMOCRACY NOW! ACCOUNTABILITY NOW!

 

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