Sunday, October 02, 2005

The struggle over the election law

The political subcommittee of the national agenda committee is struggling with how to formulate a new election law. As with any type of exercise in which people want to determine the outcome, the members are split according to who they want elected. The conventional wisdom is that if there are purely political elections, the Islamic Action Front will walk away with most of the seats. On the other hand, the current system ensures that non political figures dominate the parliament. Thus, in order to please everybody, the subcommittee is suggesting a two-tier system. There will be a national set of seats, which will be voted on based on party slates, and district seats in which independents can run.

The point of disagreement now is whether to allow people to vote for one slate or the other, or to allow them two votes, one for the national and one for the local slate. The IAF representatives want to allow people two votes, in the hope that they will take seats both as a slate and as individuals in the districts. Of course, the government wants to allow only one vote, in the hope of limiting the IAF to the national seats and keeping the local seats for the independents.

The basic assumption in all of this is that there really is only one political party in Jordan. Instead of relying on people's good sense, the government wants to maintain as much of the tribal makeup in the parliament as possible. This does not bode well for the government's professed interest in "political development". It is useful to limit the opposition to a party that most people are afraid of.

In essence, the only political party that has been allowed to flourish over the last 50 years is the Muslim Brotherhood (now using the IAF as a name for the "legal" political party). All recent elections show that over 80% of people don't vote for IAF candidates. Opinion polls also show that 80% of people don't think that the IAF represent their views. Granted, most people don't think that any of the existing political parties represent their views either. I believe that this is because people really haven’t put any effort into studying what each of the 30 or so political parties in Jordan stand for. Simply stated, the electoral system doesn't encourage this. You either vote for an IAF candidate or for an independent.

If we really want to develop political life in Jordan, we would actually limit the ability of independents to run. This can be done by only allowing candidates who submit a petition with a large number of signatures (5000?) to run. If you are a candidate for a licensed political party, then you can run. This would limit the number of candidates and help people focus on issues as well as personalities. I believe that the fear of the IAF taking a majority is a smokescreen, designed to actually increase the popularity of the IAF and to stunt the growth of all the other parties.


At 10:49 PM, Blogger Hatem Abunimeh said...

I think that you are jumping the gun a little bit over here, the recommendations of the subcommittee have not yet been made public as of yet, and as such, it would be premature for us to speculate on exactly how the political landscape is going to look like for the next elections. I have a keen interest in the topic and I'll be revisiting it I'm sure more than once after the publications of the national agenda's articles.Though your analysis are very good for now.

At 7:28 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Working is useful and as you also said that the IAF to the national seats and keeping the local seats for the independents,so the IAF is trying the best and putting the effort and giving the best,and the news are awesome and absolutely great which you share,so this is good to see and i must say that they are doing the best.


Post a Comment

<< Home