Thursday, October 12, 2006

Election delay?

The last week has seen a full blown attack against the idea of delaying parliamentary elections due next summer. No official has said that a delay is being considered. So, who set up this straw man for people to kick around?

As far as I can tell, the whole thing started a week ago, when Samih Maitah wrote an article suggesting that a date should be set and confirmed, to give people time to plan and to start preparing. Past experiences, he suggested, made people skeptical that the elections will take place on time. He claimed that elites and decision makers always prefer to delay elections because of the “regional situation”. He didn’t say that anybody is suggesting this now, and this is an assumption he made based on past events.

A couple of days later, Fahd Khitan wrote on the same subject. In this article, he gives arguments made by “callers for delay”. Who are they? His barber or the taxi driver he took a ride with? He makes no mention that they have any official capacity, and he states explicitly that the government is not interested in a delay. Anyway these “callers for delay” are worried about the Islamists winning the elections, especially the Islamist supporters of Hamas. Of course, he goes on to argue that this delay is a bad idea and that a new election law should be implemented for the upcoming elections.

The next day, Rana Sabbagh, drew a nightmare scenario in which an Islamist victory in Jordan would unite with the Hamas government in Palestine to form an Islamist state in Jordan and parts of Palestine. She highlights the fact that leading Jordanian Islamists view the 1988 disengagement between Jordan and the West Bank as unconstitutional (Hamas leaders don’t recognize the disengagement either). She draws her concerns from unnamed officials and influential MP’s (who have a vested interest in extending the life of the current parliament). Her analysis is that the parliamentary elections will be delayed for a year or two.

In the last press conference conducted by Nasser Joudeh, he refused to answer a direct question about the issue. Instead, he tersely said that the decision is the prerogative of the king. The minister of state for political development, Sabri Rbeihat later attempted damage control by saying flatly that the elections will be held on time and according to a new election law. This didn’t prevent Al Ghad from continuing speculation over the matter, always citing unnamed sources.

So, the chatter continues, as does the debate. Jamil Nimri doesn’t think that the government is interested in delaying the elections, but calls for changing the election law in the mean time, despite the lack of any consensus on what the new law would be like. I personally don’t think that the election will be delayed, despite some of the concerns. If I am wrong, I will change the header on my blog.



At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the people in Jordan reached to the point where they don't believe anything they read (those who do read) or hear (those who rely on listening to others as their source of info). I don't think that combating corruption and speculation about election represent a priority for any one living in Jordan at least at this particular point in time .

I once was listening to a commentator on the radio who correctly ststed that if you don't want the people to have any reaction to hot topics bring them up during a time when they are preoccupied with something else that is more important to them.

I think that the people in Jordan right now are preoccupied with the end of Ramadan, the arrival of Eid, and the expenses that go along with these two monumental projects. Some even looking forward to do Umra and what have you, but as far as tackling corruption and delay in election, I think that they will pass unnoticed except for those of us that are news Junkies.

At 1:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rumours about the delay in elections have been spread by some "political salons" that gather useless politicians, MPs and other activists in the Ramadan nights after the Taraweeh Prayers and on Qataif. Some MPs claim that they got information from "high sources' that the elections will be delayed. Of course tehy want to remain enjoying the pleasures of being in parliament and in doing so they create justifications related to the power of Islamists and so on. The problem is that in a country like Jordan any silly rumour can grow to be a fact of life. This is why some writers including me have written proactively to try to criticize this idea before it gains momentum.

At 5:38 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hatem and Batir: I am sure that you are both right.

At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, we don't want to make assuptions if it's not confirmed, but on the other hand, if there are some rumers and Nassir Joudeh didn't confiremed for sure, then, maybe some articles warning from such a move would sound apt, and at the same time your point of view also stands. I for one lean to believe that some sort of delay or change to the next elections are ahead.


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