The Issue is not the Election Law!

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Sun 7 August / Aug 2016. 06:56 PM
  • Fahed Khitan

Most runners for the upcoming elections are facing a multitude of difficulties forming electoral lists, and many of them blame the law and the new elections system for that. Even before we try it, many bet this is going to be a one-time thing.

Is there an issue really in the election system itself? Or is it in the reality of our political party life in Jordan?

Over the course of the years, underway of democratic transformation, many election modules have been adopted. But the one particular design that stood steadfast in practice was the “Single-Vote” system, followed by an even worse structure, the small-circuit system, which broke the unity of voters and isolated residents of the single governorate.

With time, in spite of the widespread boycott on elections, particularly in light of the single-vote law, by a vast basis of political and social forces, boycotting became a dominant culture; not many could overcome it, or adapt with the new formula, comprising an advancement from how it was before.

The closed national list, we recall, applied in the last elections, also faced similar challenges. It caused disparities among members of the single party on the order of nominated names on the list, and gave rise to the phenom of “stuffing lists”.

Nominees for the upcoming elections, most of them at least, were either members of the recently dissolved House of Representative, or unlucky members of previous formation with past running experiences for Parliament, more than once.

They all operated within the Single-Vote framework. And most of them are used to running in small circuits, only to find themselves now running in a much vaster pool in larger circuits, which requires engaging a vaster audience and building alliances with other runners.

The Single-Vote system had relieved them of all that for a long while; all they needed to do was move around a narrower circuit and direct his audience to vote for one nominee; him.

Even parties, save for the Islamic Action Front, face trouble adapting with a fairer new law, compared to the Single-Vote system. Due to these parties lacking of active and effective organisational basis, as well as the tension among them, they are unable to communicate among themselves and building electoral alliances.

Electoral systems derived from the proportional representation principal, presume the existence of an active political dynamic in Jordan. But in Jordan’s case, the existence of 50 political parties is just as good none. Even for non-party currents, those two are still entangled in the Single-Vote ropes, that they cannot even put their own people together within a single circuit, let alone the Kingdom.

Would adopting the closed electoral list per governorate system have made it better than it is now?

Absolutely not. Further disparities would arise among runners in the same lists, and many, in the tails of these lists, will be viewed as mere stuffing in lists with more prominent symbols whom are guaranteed to succeed.

The challenges candidates face in formulating coalitions and lists are nothing but mere residues of the Single-Vote and narrow circuit cultures. The moment the first round is overcome in the 20th of next month, these complications will become part of the past, just like the Single-Vote system itself.

As for voters, they for the first time, in almost one quarter of a century, have the chance to vote for the greater good, instead of narrow, impotent calculations short of inducing any change.

Yes, there is a temporary problem; but it is an issue in the Country’s political reality and environment, not an issue with the election law itself.

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