Election Law and Parliamentary Government

By Marwan Muasher

تم نشره في Tue 18 October / Oct 2016. 12:00 AM
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Now that the elections are over, we can smoothly conduct and open evaluation of the results of the new elections law, stand it against justifications and explanations by the State for its ratification, particularly in regards to the step away from the “Single Vote” system, closer to one that basis on the election of active parliamentary blocs. Accordingly, numerous statesmen had been going on about the formation of parliamentary governments by blocs under the dome, based on clear, measurable, and accountable agendas and programmes.

However, just a quick look into the results would suffice to conclude that the law falls short in attaining target objectives. 101 electoral lists have made it into parliament; a median of one and a third seat per list, while only one list had been capable of scoring for seats, which is the “Watan” list in Kerak, and only due to the large number of allocated seats, including those for Christians and women.

Evidently, this would mean that the new law has not varied much from the old Single Vote system, even though it has expanded its constituency circuits. How so? Well, most circuits have an allocated sum of no more than 7 seats, with a general distribution of 3 or 4 seats per circuit, except for Balqa and Kerak. This means that the vast majority of the candidate lists could not, even if they do score 30 per cent of the ballots cast in their circuit, get more than one or two candidates into parliament. Even the Islamic Action Front (IAF), which took part in the elections under the National Coalition for Reform in several circuits, could not get more than 15 candidates under the dome, including allied Christian and Circassian candidates, comprising all in all no more than 12 per cent of parliament.

Additionally, only two electoral lists competed with an ideological edge; the IAF and the “Ma’an” list. The rest took it off on a tribal provincial basis. This, just as well, means that we have not rid ourselves of the “Single Vote”, neither have we even begun our real journey towards the allowance of the formation of blocs that would compete and succeed into parliament based on their agendas and programmes, in order for them to form governments in accordance. More so, the deletion of the Nation List in the new law has actually contributed, majorly, to the hindrance in the attainment of promise; and most probably, it was deliberate. Subsequently, there needs to be a serious reconsideration on the removal of the Nation List partiality in the Elections Law.

The results of these elections show clearly that the goal was not attained, and will not be so within the standing frameworks of the current law in the near future. Therefore, all the fuss made over pushing the elections forward was futile, and was unconvincing to the public, save for members of the last parliament, which by the way does not have the trust of the majority of Jordanians.

The swiftness in the formation of the new government, without waiting for the House of Representatives to deliberate with on the formation of Government, shows crystal clear the lack of intention to establish parliamentary government. Since 1952, the request for Motion to Confidence from Parliament has become more or less a Constitutional custom, and is to the State proof of Parliamentary government. Hence, it is no surprise today that we have this massive gap in trust, which is widening, between the public and State institutions. Notably, this gap must not be dismissed, particularly in light of standing, suffocating economic conditions.

Even the call to review the election law has lost all value; the citizen is no longer convinced that the State is serious in its claims to include the people in the decision making process through credible houses of parliament, nor in the monitory and legislative roles of Parliament.

It is sad, the place we are in today; wisdom dictates a thorough revaluation of policies, and a more convincing approach towards the public. Not a single bloc within the state is working in that direction.