Elections: Do We Succeed in Retaining Public Governance?

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Sun 11 September / Sep 2016. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

As soon as the Eid holiday concludes, we would enter the final decisive elections week, which usually sees exceptional and intense candidate-electorate engagement, to aggregate more votes and get the indecisive lot to decide.

It remains difficult to tell; the participation rates in these elections, that is.  However, in spite of the general negative public sentiment among so many, there seems to be a rising inclination to participate, indicating a tangible progress in this regard, compared to the earlier phases of the campaigning period.

Nonetheless, the doubting masses, whom have lost their confidence in the many Houses of Representatives, need a strong motivational message to entice their participation the eve of the polls, break the stillness, and provide strong arguments to support the benefits of participation, in order to reignite hope in the political process in Jordan, once more.

Most unfortunately, the elections in Jordan are more or less confined to the conservative traditions that do not encourage competition among rivals, unlike any elections in any democracy around the world.

For example, no survey or media instrument could poll constituencies on their inclination and go public with the results of their survey. Why? Because no one is going to be happy, save for those who come out ahead of their rivals; the rest will probably raise hell on the polls, maybe even go beyond that.

Therefore, polling and public opinion survey parties prefer to keep it all down low, and suffice with providing results to official entities interested in uncovering constituency directions beforehand, and employ the services.

Notably, most candidates, particularly in the primary circuits with strong political colours, seek through their personal relations to obtain the results of these polls and surveys, to tweak their campaigns accordingly. And the reason most discrete candidates give for being so cold on surveys in the circuits is that surveying parties are biased and not objective, and that their results are directed to influence constituency inclinations.

In my opinion, these alibies are invalid, by evidence of the previously undisclosed opinion surveys that came in relatively identical to the results of the polls themselves. And there are centres and researches in Jordan with the expertise and credibility to lead in these fields. Even in advanced states, the margin of error in surveys does not destroy their credibility as measures of pacing public opinion.

But to say that surveys are intended to influence people’s choices, is just absurd; it is a desperate argument that entails insult to constituents. For if that were true, why does the US Republican candidate Donald Trump not object the results of surveys that indicate he is falling behind his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton? And why doesn’t the French President Francois Holland object the polls that show his popularity has fallen so steeply recently, and that his chances of making it as President for the second round are slim to none?

The main reason why our candidates refuse and object surveys, is because our candidates, as well as activists in the public sphere, do not believe that an elections is won in the polls, by open and free competition to aggregate constituency. Instead, they resort to other enablers; the preferences of public parties, and purchasing votes.

Previous experiments have deepened this conviction, so deep that it has become a near fixed conviction among a vast segment of people, who no longer believe in there being something such as “credible and transparent elections”, deserving of public opinion surveys, so long as the outcomes of these elections are already predetermined.

There is much hope that the upcoming elections would break this Taboo and retain public governance once again.