Ongoing political dialogue has no compass, politicians say

Political dialoge 1 (2)
(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Political party leaders and other stakeholders have described the ongoing national political dialogue as “aimless and halfhearted”, as they stressed the necessity for political change.اضافة اعلان

Earlier this month, the Lower House, government, and Senate launched a national dialogue to revisit laws governing political life in Jordan as per His Majesty’s instructions. However, the entire endeavor is lacking direction and objectives, according to critics.

“This is not the way to conduct a national dialogue; in fact, this should come as part of a clear roadmap with a clear timeframe, and thus, we cannot expect this to have any real value in reality without it being a project for the state itself,” said Amer Al-Sabaileh, an independent political analyst.

The latest parliamentary elections, held in August last year, provided an indication of the urgency and public dissatisfaction with the political process in the Kingdom, the interviewees agreed, as only 29 percent of eligible voters took to the polls.

Secretary General of Stronger Jordan party Rula Hroub, also a former MP, believes that the last polls caused Jordan a great deal of “embarrassment”.

“The electoral law proved to be lacking in the 2016 elections, and yet decision makers decided to carry on with the same formula and the results were catastrophic,” she said.

Hroub believes that the electoral process has deteriorated since 2012. Successful practices were snubbed for “failing ones”, pointing to a paradigm of shrinking political participation among Jordanians.

“I personally submitted and participated in three previous rounds of discussions of the elections law, sent suggested amendments, and engaged in dialogues but we see that none was taken into account. In 2012, 57 percent of Jordanians engaged in the elections, then we changed the law and saw 36 percent engaging in 2016 and in the last elections in 2020, it was 29 percent,” Hroub added.

While Hroub remains “frustrated,” others saw that the political dynamic in Jordan remains “unstable” dubbing the ongoing political process as “a pebble stew”, or “blinding ash”.

“This is not a political dialogue, this is procrastination without a clear frame or background. It is clear that there is no central decision to reach a goal and the state apparatus didn’t discuss this among itself,” said Jamil Nemri, secretary general of Social Democratic Party and former lawmaker.

According to Nemri, many similar dialogues have taken place over the years; recommendations and suggestions have already been proposed but there were not applied.

“This dialogue is the most frigid, and inadequate, in comparison to previous rounds of dialogue. What is needed today is not to launch a dialogue but to launch a program for political reform and discussions can take place over the details.” Nemri added.

Senior members of political parties agreed that political reform is not only urgent but crucial to the stability of the Kingdom, as the public is growing wary of “shenanigans” and outraged by the current political and economic scene.

“These reasons push towards ditching the same methods and entering a real reform, and if that does not happen we would be taking a gamble with unknown consequences because of the same methods that got us to rock-bottom”, added Nemri.

Abdulmawla Akayleh from the Islamist-leaning National Congress Party (Zamzam) told Jordan News that “we should first discuss constitutional amendments that would remove the distortions in political life. This is not a dialogue but an act to send messages to the international community that has been reading in media that Jordan is becoming more autocratic.”

Akayleh criticized the actors standing behind this “dialogue”, stating that these are “not the ones entrusted to support a democratic process.”

“The fluctuations of the political process cannot be trusted. It seems that the only purpose behind this is a narrative intended as a message to external actors. There is no will for reform,” Akyaleh added.

Secretary General of the Islamic Action Front Murad Adayleh, believes that the state has adopted measures that deprioritized democracy and political inclusion in favor of security.

“For the past years, the state has been living off the security option and this resulted in many confrontations with syndicates, parties, or the general freedoms sphere in the Kingdom. It is unprecedented that professional syndicates’ elections are crippled,” said Adayleh.

The veteran politician sees that the circumstances today are different and reflect an imminent threat to stability.

“In the past, such dialogues were meant as a distraction, but today, the state is in a tougher situation and in a state of identity loss. The last elections was scandalous, recent crises in March and April, and other issues which started surfacing reflect deep issues that cannot be dealt with using the same tools and mentality,” Adayleh added.

All the politicians interviewed stressed the need for swift action to achieve real and solid political reform. Interested parties see that political reform is the entry point for reform across the board.

“The current circumstances do not tolerate delays, procrastination, or appeasement of external powers. A clear direction must be adopted. After the recent crises, and the current economic situation, pressure is felt and reform is now a must,” added Nemri.

State actors must find solutions to the “deep issues and find a formula inclusive of citizens,” according to Adayleh.

Defining the factors of successful reform, Hroub listed “a strong Parliament, effective oversight tools, and the elimination of randomness” in the decision-making process.

As he opened a new discussion session on Sunday, Senate President Faisal Al-Fayez, urged “positive engagement from all ... so that the dialogue would be systematic and fruitful,” according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.

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