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.
Labels: Parliamentary elections 2007