January 23rd is rapidly approaching, and many have wondered what will happen when this magical day arrives.
King Abdullah gave an interview with Al-Rai and the Jordan Times in which he placed great emphasis on the upcoming parliamentary elections on January 23rd. He talked about the elections as though they were a major step in the reform process and that everything would magically change after they were held.
King Abdullah promised that “The future of reform is in the hands of the Jordanian voters as they go to the polls early next year” in his interview with Jordan Times and Al-Rai. He said this of Jordanian voters: “They are the ones who will decide the composition of the coming parliament and government. What we seek to establish is a process whereby voters hold deputies and the government emerging from the coming House accountable, based on their platforms and the solutions they suggest to the various challenges.”
He said this of the electoral law: “We have the Elections Law that was developed to a certain level at this stage of reform and was enacted through constitutional channels. However, it will be open for debate, development and change by future parliaments.” He has said previously that the new Prime Minister will be chosen by parliament after the elections. He claims that the elections will be a step on the way to having a true parliamentary government.
What does all this really mean? The answer is nothing, or if something does happen it is only going to be symbolic. If King Abdullah were serious about reform he would have implemented it five years ago, but nothing has changed. The regime has done nothing substantive that actually limited the power of the monarchy. Yes many changes in the government have been made, four to be exact in two years. What Jordan needs is a visionary. Someone who is willing to go against the regime and implement real change for the people. King Abdullah track record proves that he’s not ready for reform nor does he know how to implement true reform.
Reform is complicated, hard, and will surely not happen overnight. However, one must start the reform process somewhere for anything to really change. We are not expecting to wake up tomorrow to a newly reformed country, what is expected however, is incremental steps taken by the King to show the people that he does care. These small steps cannot be in the form of false promises, interview opportunities and democratization papers but rather real steps that are beneficial to the citizens, not just the elite.
At this point, all reform is on hold until the magical day arrives, January 23, 2013. In the words of King Abdullah “despite the difficult situation we are in, I am optimistic about the future. God willing, we will overcome this crisis.”