Friday, November 02, 2007

Thoughts on the elections

There have been a lot of complaints on the level of discourse of the elections, and the quality of the candidates. Much of the complaints stem from the lack of participation of political parties (except for the IAF), with people blaming the “one vote” voting law for this situation.

Now the current law is pretty stupid, allowing people to win by receiving less than 5% of the vote. But, despite protestations to the contrary, this is not why there is little intelligent discourse related to this election. The reason is that there is little intelligent discourse period.

I have been complaining almost since I started writing this blog over two years ago that there is no alternative to the Islamists or the government that they oppose. Neither the leftists nor the centrists could not get their act together, organizationally or ideologically during the last few years. The only serious effort to discuss real political/economic/social alternatives to the currently prevailing paradigms was offered by Nahid Hattar. But despite his best efforts, his cries have fallen on indifferent ears. This is our loss, not his.

So, what does this mean? Well, it may mean two things. Either that people are fundamentally happy with the way things are going or that they are too frustrated or cynical to believe that anything can change. If asked, people will say they are cynical, but do they really want change to begin with?

I find it hard to believe that the 1000+ candidates running for parliament do not contain any candidates that can inspire people’s imagination. Not one of the 1000! Why is that? Is it truly because they are all mediocre thinkers and/or orators? All of them? Or, is it as I suspect that people really are not interested in fundamentally changing the status quo, and politicians understand this.

It is hard to tell. I will get angry comments on this post, but I really don’t see any real anger out there. Feigned frustration, yes, but true anger is not out there. If it were, one of the 1000 candidates would be tapping in on it right now.



At 9:03 PM, Blogger Mohanned said...

Maybe you are right..People in rural areas tend to vote not for political reasons. But who is to blame? is it the people or is it the education system that produced this kind of mentality?
Maybe the election laws need to be changed, maybe they should add more requirments, right? Or lets say maybe any candidate should pass a test to measure their knowledge!

I don't know, but if we want a solution we can find it, but there is forces holding jordan back!

At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice perspective. I would say that a better Jordan is delivered by better Jordanians in the first place. A progressive or a damaging governmental agenda is not enough to deliver prosperity or drag on new problems, the people reap what they had planted.

At 10:12 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Mohanned: It is not only rural people. For the most part most people couldn't care less if there is a parliament or not.

Ahmad: I agree. This negative attitude is not helpful. The question is how to make politics truly relevant?

At 10:23 PM, Blogger Masalha1 said...

Mohanned I agree with you to an extent, the deteriorating education system is part of the problem and it has some effect on the mentality of the people, but don't you think banning the political parties from 1957 to 1989 will eventually has its toll on people way of political thinking? it takes years of hard work for any political party to build its grass roots and the parties ( Dakkakeen ) we see today are every thing but political.
Governments worked hard for decades to prevent people from participating in any parties and if you do you loose your freedom, school teachers, university professors were banned from talking politics, even in mosques prominent speakers were not allowed to give the friday khutba.
Education is a life time process it starts at home and it never ends and if our parents failed to educate us politically we should not fail our children.

At 1:32 AM, Blogger Mohanned said...

And the reason is:
La behesho wala bennesho! And for this we need to set high standards for people running for the parliment, and I was dead serious about the test, which should include both oral(Live Debates) and written aspects..

Outsourcing is the soloution :)
Outsource the government and the parliment..

At 11:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Politics revolve around economics. Since we have major economical disorders at the moment - and we always had problems -, political life shall remain rendered to fragile structure. The new economic model we in Jordan are following is going forward though some obstacles we are facing now, were not predicted or even were underestimated, such as regional competition to our new industries of Textiles and IT fields, Real Estate and continuous IPOs sucked the country dry, and Petrol rocket prices. However, the new model will create new standards, new people classes, all people will be driven by work forces and shall have value added to sustain a living rather than governmental charities that ran the country. Interests will change accordingly, pressure occurs and a change happen.

At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

busing his majesty's soldiers to polling stations with prefilled ballots during the municipal elections precludes the need for putting any effort into making this joke of a Jordanians democracy work. so not only will you be fighting the system to make our democracy work, you will be going against the White house who seemes to have learned their lesson from the palestine and iraq elections.

if you want to be free, you have to get your freedom from the americans.

At 9:31 PM, Blogger Habchawi said...

If this is the case I wonder how Mauritanians were able to get a free democratic gov. don't the majority of the people live in rural areas, they barely have an education system to start with actually more than half of the people can't even read/write and still they are more "enlightened electorate" than most Jordanian who were educated or lived in western countries. I agree with Khalf it seems that only few interested in changing the status quo. Real estate, business’ opportunities and cell phones occupy more time than the hottest political issue.

At 10:03 PM, Blogger Mohanned said...

Habchawi, where etteh? Ya zemah fagdanak;)

Ya garabah,Just give people the chance, zaba6 ganoon el ente7'ab, 3allem el nas mlee7, a36ee 7orreyet e3lam o shoof, etha ma zab6at bnerja3 lal 3orfi o 7'el9at fakkat!

At 10:56 PM, Blogger Masalha1 said...

Mr. Anonymous:
United States is a super power and it would do any thing to protect the American interest, but did that stop the Venezuelan people from electing chavez? or the Iranian from electing Nejad, or the Turkish, and the list goes on, the point is its easy to believe in conspiricy and blame the Americans for every thing miserable that happens to us.
americans paid millions of lives as a price for their freedom so did the people of south Africa and South America, when last time we fought for our freedom ? what arab country you know had such a fight ?
we want freedom, democracy at no price.
"Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will".

At 11:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

masalhah, please spare us the bull lecture about conspiricy theory. we are getting tired of the shallow man's defense.

if you know anything about the history of vinezuela or south america in general you would know that not until the fall of the soviets did the south americans manage to get their democracies up and running. fact is there not not one serious threat to US interests in south america. Chaves is an annoyance to the americans. but he is not threatin oil suplies and he is not funding revolutionaries or threating israel's interest.

and it took an international sancations with the US onboard to bring aparthied south african to its keens.

and turky has always been in america's back pocket. it's a nato country. so why should the US bother?

and Iran's time is up in case you have not noticed.

So please people. spare us a show of your shallowness before you lecture us about US role in aborting freedoms and supporting bloody despots.

fact is, royal despots survive because they protect america's interest all the way to betraying the most cherished arab causes and to protecting and dealing with enemies who pose existential threat to arab civilization.

At 3:22 AM, Blogger FadiMalian said...

Like your posts as usual khalaf.

Mohannad: having a test will make it probably an aristocracy but not democracy. Anyway, that might be better than the useless system we have now and we try to claim it as democracy while it is the furthest from that.

Personal opinion; freedom on every level is a pre requisite for democracy or a partial democracy that we try to achieve or claim. That is freedom of belief to start with, freedom of speech and expression, freedom to organize, freedom of media and other form of mass expression, etc. The problem is people do not believe in freedom themselves, not only the government. Just watch when someone goes against the belief of the majority and you understand. Whether it is in religion, Palestine, or agreed on traditions. So basically people deserve no better than what they are. The minority that believes otherwise is either silent out of fear or hopelessness, or already outside Jordan enjoying the room of freedom somewhere else. Few are or were in prison out of foolishness an not allowed to run in the election anymore.

At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shavez claimed interest in Syrian Benefit, and visited Iran to give support. Venezuela is benefiting from Oil increases, and just as Russia will defend the current market prices for their own good.
as for Turkey, it reached a limit where Turkey needs repayment for all previous giving they did: Join the EU, close the Armenian Files, and consider the Cypriot case. Once The US face Turkey with no replies to that, Turkey will switch its roles. The US has its interests, but this running the whole world theory from CIA Pentagon offices is a cliché for all unresolved problems, get over it.
Electing Hammas was the biggest mistake of Palestinians, and having IAF in Jordan will be no better, these people are in for benefits and their word is not to be taken as granted...
People have to work to reach an elected Parliament capable of judging the government, develop the constitution and end the temporary regulations, develop the political life and support NGOs.

At 4:34 PM, Blogger Mohanned said...

How will it become aristocracy? We can test them on decision making, politics, economics and maybe the IQ, then we force them to have a public debate.

But as I said, i agree with khalaf to an extent, but it is not olny the fault of the people, because those people are a product of the system; some will tell me it is the family, but, also the family is just another product of the system. It is a loop!

At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it could be a loop in the view of some, but the matter of the fact is that it is a status quo that is advancing somewhere in line with worldwide conservative ideologies. So we are part of an international cycle, which we did not create ourselves because we neither have the know-how nor the power to do so. Today's world seems to be governed by corporate companies selling easy-to-absorb idealogies for the average consumer. Think of it that way and you will not be surprised by people's reluctance to be involved in domestic politics. How can you educate people on their political and social rights while the utmost to which an average person aspires is to buy the latest version of Nokia mobile and while a fraud who cheats unsuspecting shareholders is considered by people (the very people who never cease to preach values) as a smart man?! Whether happy or not with the status quo, right now people are indifferent.

At 7:16 AM, Blogger Masalha1 said...

If you want to believe that the white house runs the planet earth, thats your opinion, but if thats the case how do you explain united states abandon the Shah of Iran when he was the united states cop in the region for so many years? or their ruthless dictator of chili Pinochet which he was very close and supported by Henrry Kessinger? who is more of a threat to Israel Saddam or Nejad of Iran?
Some things don't make sense in politics, but it all comes down to interest and you can't blame united states trying to protect its interest, so in the same logic Arab political systems fought all political reforms to protect their interest and yes the entire western world look the other way when it comes to freedom, human rights violations in the Arab world, but what do you expect them to do? its your battle to fight, your problem to solve they love these systems why would they fight to change them? so you can just give up and stick your head in the sand and wait for uncle Sam to rescue you, and that will never happen, its not in their INTEREST, or you can try to do something about it, at least try.

At 5:11 AM, Blogger FadiMalian said...

Mohanned: any selection based on money , IQ, or whatever is not a democracy. Who will put your exam and grade it!! what is the passing grade? democracy means people choose, if people are stupid and choose stupids then that is fair.


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