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Jordan’s Urgent Need for Electoral Law Reform: Overcoming Unjustified Phobia

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Eng. Saleem Al Batayneh

The political landscape in Jordan has undergone a seismic shift, with significant indicators pointing to a new era. It is no exaggeration to say that the absence of transparency and public discourse has played a crucial role in marginalizing the legislative process in the country. Good intentions should be the guiding principle in legislation, as without it, fear takes hold. The urgent and hasty push to amend the electoral law, particularly during this critical time, raises questions about the true motives behind these actions.

It is disconcerting to witness a peculiar obsession within certain decision-making circles in Jordan: a rush to judge outcomes without properly analyzing the underlying causes. Every situation requires a thorough examination of events and their potential implications. This does not mean disregarding the public’s legitimate queries regarding the need for swift changes to the electoral law. The history of electoral laws in Jordan from 1993 to the present day resembles a constantly changing recipe, with various actors adding their preferred ingredients to the mix.

The subject of political rivalry and its demonization is a complex and multifaceted issue. It operates within its own framework and employs specific tools and strategies. Political exclusion is a deeply divisive practice that weakens the state, undermines its institutions, and robs the people of purpose and aspirations.

A robust political system necessitates a strong parliamentary opposition capable of providing checks and balances and channeling public discontent within the confines of the law and respect for institutions. The weakness of the opposition opens the door for dissent to emerge outside of the parliamentary arena, granting the street and social media a prominent role in voicing grievances and expressing popular anger towards unpopular government measures.

Unfortunately, words and descriptions lose their meaning when they are used contrary to their essence. One of the fundamental principles of political action is understanding power dynamics in politics, legislation, and maneuvering.
The official media’s role in distorting reality and manipulating the truth cannot be denied. For years, we have witnessed a recurring deviation from the truth. The balance of power in the House of Representatives is built upon two pillars: the government and the opposition. The opposition plays a crucial role in constructing a robust parliamentary system.

Unfounded phobias, baseless fears, speculative assessments lacking a true understanding of reality—these factors all contribute to the current situation. It begs the question: Has the future of the relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood or the Islamic Action Front and the Jordanian state become more contingent on regional circumstances than local conditions, despite the group’s historical role as a loyal opposition and an integral component of the state?
Why this fear? Is there any rational justification for this unwarranted phobia? Do we seek to strip the upcoming House of Representatives, the first under the modernized political system in Jordan, of its political nature and opposition voices?

It is imperative that we address these concerns and engage in a genuine and open dialogue. Jordan’s democratic progress relies on a fair and inclusive electoral law that fosters a thriving political environment, where opposition forces can play their vital role in shaping the nation’s future. Let us move beyond baseless fears and work towards a more democratic and prosperous Jordan for all its citizens.

Eng. Al Batayneh was a member of the Jordanian Parliament.