King’s name to revisit political reforms triggers cautious optimism in Jordan

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Feb 10, 2021

A name by King Abdullah to “revisit” legal guidelines regulating political life within the kingdom has triggered a way of optimism and hope that long-delayed reforms may lastly happen almost a decade after Jordanians took to the streets demanding real reforms in what was known as Jordan’s Arab Spring

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In an interview with the Jordan News Agency printed Jan. 30 to mark the king’s 59th birthday, Abdullah was requested about his aspirations as the dominion oberserves its centennial. He responded by underlining his perception that Jordan ought to proceed “development to promote political participation and increase the participation of political parties and youth in parliament; we must revisit laws regulating political life, such as the election, political parties, and local administration laws, and continue political development efforts.” 

He went on to say that “our goal for many years has been to reach a platform-based political party scene that reflects the ideology and leanings of Jordanians, and carries forward their concerns and national causes, and works towards achieving their aspirations by conveying their voices and bringing their representatives to parliament.”

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At the middle of those reforms is the election regulation and the political events regulation, however critics see a necessity for a full overview of the dominion’s political scene, particularly after 2011 when some reforms had been launched solely to be rolled again two years later.  

The king had alluded to political reforms in his letters of designation to earlier governments, together with the 4-month-old authorities of Bisher al-Khasawneh. Calls for the necessity to interact in a complete overview of political and administrative legal guidelines had elevated following November’s legislative elections, whose end result was disappointing for political events.

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More than 35 political events contested the elections beneath an open listing system however gained solely 12 out of 130 seats allotted to the decrease home of parliament. The majority of seats went to impartial candidates counting on their tribal bases. The National Center for Human Rights issued a report Feb.1 claiming that “grave violations” had accompanied the current elections, which noticed voter turnout of solely 30%. The middle known as for an elections regulation that would offer outcomes extra consultant of the nation.

In a reversal of earlier statements that denied the necessity to overview the election regulation, the minister of political and parliamentary affairs, Musa al-Ma’aitah, informed an area information station Feb.1 that the election regulation has failed to ship what Jordanians had hoped for within the final two elections. He stated that the election regulation and different legal guidelines had solely cemented individualism and that the subsequent elections have to be held beneath a brand new regulation that strengthens political events.

But as some activists and political events assist the necessity to overview such legal guidelines, others are demanding a extra complete approach that features suspending the Defense Law, which was activated in March 2020 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and which gave the federal government wide-ranging powers with little or no oversight. Also, activists are demanding that circumstances associated to freedom of expression which are seen as violations of the Cybercrimes Law be tried by civil courts and never the State Security Court, which often handles terror-related circumstances. Others go so far as calling for a constitutional monarchy beneath which the powers of the monarch are checked.

The head of the Center for the Freedom of Journalists in Amman, Nidal Mansour, is just not optimistic in regards to the authorities’s willingness to hold out actual political reforms. In a Feb. 7 article in Al-Ghad each day he stated, “The clear problem is with public trust in the sincerity of governments to embrace reforms.” He added, “For decades these governments have been talking about democracy while political life is regressing and for years laws have been amended only to make matters worse.”

“The reality is that the ruling political class does not want deep-rooted reforms that would change the rules of the political game and all they do is to claim that Jordanian society is not ready to embrace a new system of government,” Mansour stated. As a primary step he known as for an election regulation that solely permits political events and closed get together lists to contest elections beneath a proportional system.

Earlier, Mansour informed Al-Monitor he believes the “political reforms file in Jordan may witness a real revival under Joe Biden’s administration, which has stressed that democracy and human rights will take priority in his foreign policy approach.”

Marwan Muasher, a former deputy prime minister and now vp for research on the Carnegie Endowment, seems to agree, saying the king’s feedback had been made with Biden in thoughts. Speaking at a discussion board held by the Center for the Freedom of Journalists in Amman on Feb.1, Muasher stated that whereas Biden is acquainted with Arab points and is a good friend of Jordan, that doesn’t imply he agrees with its insurance policies. “He is going to want to see political reform in Jordan,” Muasher said.

Hassan Barrari Ajarmeh, a political scientist at the University of Jordan and a critic of successive governments’ handling of political reforms, said he believes it all rests with the king. “The state talks about reforms but does not mean it since the ruling class is not democratically elected. It serves its own interests and not that of the people and real reforms will put many in jail for corruption,” he informed Al-Monitor.

“Whether we like it or not the solution is in the hands of the king; he alone can launch a white coup that allows the people to rule themselves and produce an elected class. He has always talked about reforms so what is stopping him from putting them into action?” he said.  


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