Thursday, September 22, 2005

Waiting for the "National Agenda"

Whereas the press is taking a lot of interest in the National agenda and is speculating about it's outcome, interest in the street is minimal. I suppose that most people are waiting for a new long-winded report that is full of vague generalities and few specifics (such as the "Jordan First" document, which was largely ignored).

A committee has been set up by Royal Decree to set a "National Agenda" for the next ten years. This committee has metastasized into a large number of subcommittees covering the economy, the political process, higher education, infrastructure and so forth. While we wait for the report, speculation is swirling about the fate of the government and the parliament, which also seem to be in the balance.

My feeling is that Jordanians are suffering "political fatigue". A new survey shows that people are pretty much happy with the one-man one vote formula, and that they are interested in more bread and butter issues. This is shown by the interest in solving the problem of corruption. Basically, corruption means that people are not interested in policy, and I suspect that they have been convinced that the current government economic policies are the only reasonable ones. Thus, if the policy is OK, then the problem must be that corruption is negating the effects of the policy. Alternate economic policies are really not being seriously debated. I can't imagine why people are so interested in democracy if they are no substantive policy debates, especially when speaking of economic policy. On what basis will people choose their government?

I would guess that almost anybody who would form a new government would get the same reaction. Nobody cares any more. We have apathy even before the first vote is cast.


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