Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The women's quota

In order to ensure participation of women in the parliament, the election law has set aside six seats for the women who, countrywide, receive the highest percentage of votes in their districts. If a woman wins outright, her seat is not considered to be part of the quota. The choice of giving the women with the highest percentage of votes rather than the highest absolute number of votes is to ensure fairness between districts of different numbers of voters. While on paper this looks fine, in the last election it led to the election of women with as few as 365 votes. Worse, most of these ladies have attitudes towards women's rights ranging from ambivalent to hostile, much the same as their male colleagues.

Smaller tribes who have little hope of mustering enough votes for an outright victory have taken to nominating women, in the hope that the lower number of votes needed will give them a better chance. Clearly, as in the last election, their chances will be better in smaller districts where they can get a higher percentage of the vote. In any case, hope springs eternal, and there are a large number of ladies running this year, which in itself is a good development.

It is ironic to remember, however, that the first woman to win a parliament seat in Jordan did so without this quota system. Toujan Faisal won a seat in the third district of Amman in 1993 designated for Circassians and Chechens. She turned out to be too much of a maverick for the government's taste, and in 1997 they mustered enough votes to oust her by heavy support towards a hence after unheard of candidate named Nayef Moola. In 2003, they moved the Circassian/Chechen seat to the sixth district, so that the politicized electorate of the third district couldn't vote for her again. There have been rumors that Toujan might run in the fifth district, but it is not clear if her application for candidacy will be allowed. She was convicted in 2002 of slandering the prime minister, Ali Abu Ragheb, accusing him of using his position to raise insurance premiums for mandatory automobile policies. Abu Ragheb had major stakes in a number of insurance companies. Anyway, she was released by a special pardon by the king, possibly making her ineligible to run again.

So there you are. Popular women with a real base of support are eliminated from running, while conservative women with little to contribute are shoehorned in. It must be nice to be able to make your own rules.



At 2:24 PM, Blogger Masalha1 said...

Mr. Khalaf
This whole mess of quota business is designed to give governments a majority edge in the parliament since our un elected governments don't have political parties to ensure passage of laws when sent for voting so governments created these QUOTAS for women and christians and Circassian/Chechen and south,middle,and north Bedwans and soon we'll probably have one for Pakistanies and Iraqis and philipines and possibly srilankians.
This is nothing but garbage there should be no designated seats for any group if we all Jordanians why can't we compete without this Quotas crap, or do we need the government to remind us where we came from and what is our religion??.
If Toujan Faisal runs on merits only she would probably wins in any district so is Laith Eshbailat so why can't we run the elections without these little GIVE AWAY seats to the so called MINORITIES as if Bani Sakher is aminority .
please give me a break.
governments continues to insult our intelligence.

At 2:57 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Masalha: The problem is that people vote based largely on blood ties, and not who will be a better legislator. Of course, the election system encourages this, so it may be a vicious circle. Some of the quotas are hopeless (the bedouin seats), whereas the Christian and Circassian /Chechen seats may encourage integration by not forcing these groups to vote as a block. I don't think that the quota system in itself is a problem. However, the low threshold for winning any seat is.

At 7:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Masalhah1: in an ideal and politically mature electoral system and culture any quota will be undemocratic and segregatory. However in our society with the one man vote system any elections will end up without any Circassian/ Chechens MP, maybe one Christian, maybe one women and one bedouin. If there are no Christian quotas a lot of religious conflicts will arise during elections as well as racial conflicts between Circassians/Chechens and Arabs.
Any by the way I think you were totally unfortunate by cmparing Christians, Bedouins and Circassians who are all basic building blocks of this countries with pakistanis. This is really annoying.

At 8:41 PM, Blogger Mohanned said...

I am not here to defend christians in jordan, BUT they were in jordan before you and me and anyone else.
As for sharkas and chechan, I think that batir response was good enough.

Regarding women quota, I think it is just to look good abroad, nothing more, nothing less-The idea is that the "system" is more liberal than the "base", which is true:)

I would like to see a parlimant with shbelat, toujan and 3wedi,if this happens it is gonna be more interesting than those reality shows:)

At 8:40 AM, Blogger The Observer said...

I think there should be 50/50 seats for men and women. No matter how inefficient woman reaching the parliament might be, it is their problem. Men officials are no that much better now! They deserve to be represented by half the seats for their sex.

I am going to vote for a woman this year. Will try to pick a liberal one.

At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you think that it is mind-baffling that we are discussing the elections after the disaster of the last parliament!!

The election laws did not change, the new parliament will retain at least 60% the older members, and we are set for a few more years with the same shady characters dominating the political scene from back in the days of martial laws until today (AbdelAudi/Zaid al Rifai and Co.).

So, Since we are completely aware that democracy is a little bit bigger than an ink-dipped finger, maybe we ought to ignore the whole "democratic wedding : al 3orss al dimokrati" as if it does not exist, because when you think about it, it does not exist.

At 11:33 AM, Blogger Masalha1 said...

Batir, Mohanned:
Not once I implied or even dare to compare Christians,circassians/chechans or bedouins to pakistanies I merly said that the candidates from these groups should run based on their merits and political stands. we are all Jordanians why should we be devided into groups based on ethnic back ground or religious or south or north, look at Egypt christians don't have Quota.
Any way I appologies to all my neighbors and best friends who happened to be christians and circassians/chechans and to all the bedouins which I'm one of , for any misunderstanding.
As to the Quotas i think its wrong and it promotes division rather than national unity which is an essential element to all Jordanians servivor

At 6:11 PM, Blogger Mohanned said...

I understand what you say..But let me ask you this: Do you think that people will vote based on merits?

If you want to get to that point, you should start by schools when kids are 4 years old, you should teach them democracy and meritocracy, until then zay ma begool 7abebna kahalf:

Kollo thra6 3l bala6.. And all we hear now is just because the bla6 is cold and we got nfa7' so the voice of the thra6 gets louders, nothing more nothing less..

At 9:55 PM, Blogger Masalha1 said...

I somewhat agree with you however let me ask you a question:
If names like Eshbailat, Tojan, Melha just to name afew if any of those people were allowed to run in your district would you vote for any of them ?
those people had an outstanding performance and they can run based on merits and if we don't re elct people like that to represent us then the problem is in us the people.
bottom line unless we the people change our mentality and start electing the wright people we will never get out of this vicious circle like Khalaf nicely put it.
And yes maybe it will take a generation or two but we have to start some where sometime.

At 2:55 AM, Blogger Mohanned said...

Ya 3azizi if there is no push from the top nothing will ever happen, they had a new electoral law when they made the national agenda, but as we all know the agenda and the people behind it left the country, just like most the professors and the talent are leaving jordan everyday!

Do they care? I don't think so, as long as their pockets are getting full, jordan and its people can go to hell! The education of our youth is between the hands of tougan and the IAF, and our children are not getting any quality education, universities became more like illitracy fighting centers; the quality of graduates is worse than we think. R&D in jordan is zero, what else? The list can go for miles, but do they care? No, do we care? Yes, whose fault is it? Our's, Period.

Happy eid y'all:)

At 6:08 AM, Blogger Product Person said...

Ah yes, quotas - the fast past to mediocrity and bloated bureaucracies.

Hey Khalaf, drop me some email. I spent much of my life in Washington, D.C. watching much the same - to not -so-good effect.

Well that and I'll be in Jordan next month on a JTB sponsored press tour, so getting your perspective would be useful for my reporting.

dean at blogjordan dot com ... if it's worth your time, ignore said comment if it isn't

At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that people don't vote on merit is only half the problem. Do voters know the candidates and their merits?
We have no political debates, not enough media coverage and no profiling of candidates.
اذا ما بعرف المرشحين بصوت للي بعرفه او بيقربلي على الاقل خرى بتعرفه احسن من الي بتعرفهوش


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