Elections Law amendments

Debates about amendments to the Elections Law are lengthy; they don’t have to be

Fahad Al-Khitan (Photo: JNews)
The Kingdom has prestigious national dialogue experiments over the Elections Law “that we want”, and the archives of the government and the Lower House are full of proposals and draft laws. Over the past 30 years, Jordan has tested countless forms of elections systems, but the public keep calling for changing the elections law after every election. اضافة اعلان

These experiments should never leave our minds as we are heading today toward a new round of dialogue to amend the Elections Law. The Political Parties Law is included in the discussions, but it is not receiving the same attention due to the fact that there are no substantial disputes over it.

The Lower House is planning to launch a dialogue over the Elections Law and so far has not yet identified the shape and mechanism of the debate and might task the mission to one of its committees or form a special committee to lead the dialogue. 

Lawmakers’ dialogue will look like hearings, with the aim of summarizing the proposals of political parties and stakeholders before referring them to the government for opinions on wording amendments to the law.

The government has jurisdiction over this mission, and it is expected, in coming days, to take practical steps towards supervising a disciplined dialogue that eventually leads to reaching a consensus.

Regardless of the mechanism that the government might adopt, it does not have go through prolonged dialogue sessions or the formation of committees. Ideas and suggestions are abundantly available on news and social media outlets that will be full of various views on the law. 

Royal Directives to the government are clear and detailed, and His Majesty King Abdullah went over these directives during his latest interview with the Jordan News Agency, Petra, which referred to general principles needed in the Elections Law. 

According to speculations, official discussions will focus on a formula for an electoral system that resembles the one applied to the 2013 parliamentary elections, which included a national list and a one-vote system. 

The difference will be in the form of the list, where many prefer the closed national list, under which voters will be given two votes — one for the national list and another for an individual candidate within the electoral constituency. This system stipulates that the share of the list is not less than one third of the Lower House’s seats. 

It seems that there will be no changes to the distribution of electoral constituencies, with serious considerations to reduce the number of seats at the Lower Chamber from 130 to 120.

The suggested amendments preserve Circassian, Christian, and women’s quotas through constituency seats, and any other gains made by these groups through the national list are considered extra gains.

The government should not waste time on endless dialogue, and it is a good idea to have a specific timeframe set for the public debate before the government presents a comprehensive suggestion for public discussions and refers it to the Lower House to go on with deliberations, providing that all these steps would be concluded before the end of the year.