Jordan Needs Real Reform, Not a Royal Paper

Jordan Times has announced that there will be a royal discussion paper released soon about the democratization process in Jordan. According to the article:

As Jordan moves closer to parliamentary elections, His Majesty King Abdullah will release a series of discussion papers outlining his vision on the Kingdom’s comprehensive reform process, a Royal Court statement said on Wednesday.

The first paper is to appear soon, focusing on His Majesty’s vision on the nation’s course towards democratisation.

In other words, a Royal Paper will be released outlining King Abdullah’s “vision on the nation’s course towards democratization” shortly before an election that much of the opposition has chosen to boycott due to an electoral law that did not adequately reform the process for electing MPs. Furthermore, any future reforms (if they could indeed be called that) would be made by the parliament elected in this election, which is likely to consist largely of government loyalists and members of nationalist and leftist parties that have – for whatever reason – chosen to participate in the hopes of winning a few seats.

As I have mentioned before, MPs who are elected from districts with smaller populations are unlikely to support electoral reform that would equalize the size of the districts – and remember, under the electoral law, 123 out of 150 MPs will be chosen from districts (including 15 district seats that are reserved for women). Furthermore, for the 27 list seats, there are a total of 61 parties, and with the much of the opposition boycotting it is easy to see these seats being distributed widely among smaller parties, many of which do not have coherent political ideologies or true membership bases. Also, there are issues with the way that party lists are structured, as it is a closed list system with voters required to choose the from the lists, many of which have been set up through bargaining, rather than being able to select candidates on the list, which only benefits those who made backroom deals to secure a high position on their party’s list. Such a parliament is not going to produce real reform.

For the regime to be even talking about putting out a paper on democratization at this stage shows their true intent – by focusing on the new parliament, which is elected in an unfair way they will be able to stall on implementing real reform for a bit longer.

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